Secrets of a Former Fat Girl
Hudson Street Press
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". . . not another diet book."
Secrets of a Former Fat Girl: One woman’s journey from former fat to forever thin.
With size two jeans and a healthy dose of conceit, which provokes thoughts of slow torture and mutilation, Lisa Delaney begins the tale of how she became a Former Fat Girl, a phrase used continuously throughout the book like a Pied Piper’s tune or mantra.
Secrets of a Former Fat Girl is not another diet book, although there are a few tips sprinkled here and there along the way. This is one woman’s journey—how she went from breaking chairs when she sat down to winning ten medals for marathons and how it changed her life. If you are looking for calorie counts, diet plans, and food exchanges, look somewhere else; you will not find them here.
What you will find is a moving, funny, sometimes sad, and memorable story about how Delaney found a way to turn her addiction to food to an addiction to running and exercise. Secrets is a long, involved autobiographical 12-step program pared down to seven secrets and a host of informational inserts.
Delaney tells her story with wit and honesty without sparing herself or coddling the reader. She vacillates between cheerleading and insistent coach to hammer home her message. Offering old hints in a new way, Delaney tells what worked for her—and—what didn’t and how she managed to drop several dress sizes at the beginning of her journey without giving up food by joining an aerobics class that eventually led to a quarter-mile running track after dark where she became a runner.
Gray-tinted tip sheets summarize pertinent helpful information but are awkwardly placed throughout the book, breaking up paragraphs and the flow of the story. I skipped over them with the intention of going back, but I forgot. They would have been more useful and less likely to be skipped if they had been strategically placed instead at the end of sections or the end of chapters.
There is nothing really new or revolutionary, and Delaney doesn’t offer much in the way of actual dietary information, other than cutting calories, increasing exercise, and eating right. What she does offer is hope and a map of her journey. Secrets of a Former Fat Girl is more about the psychology of what kept her fat and how she changed her attitude and her life. In that regard, the book succeeds. However, the book also shows that she substituted one addiction for another and remains addicted, which, in a sense, is what all programs designed to change negative addictive behavior to positive addictive behavior teach.
While Delaney shows that it is possible to lose weight and change your psychological and physical life, there is no guarantee her program will work for someone who is older or has been overweight longer. As the body ages, it becomes more efficient at holding onto fat and turning even the healthiest food into fat. Delaney lost weight in her twenties and has maintained her weight loss into her forties. There is a vast difference in a twenty-something body and a forty- or fifty-something body and its ability to adapt.
That being said, Delaney’s book is well worth the read for her witty and charming style even when she leans too heavily on repetitious phrases and overbearing cheerleading.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell