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January 13, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Books | January 13, 2009 |

Jen Lancaster has been through some trying and often scary times. From losing her job and her home to dodging bill collectors and begging for temp positions after being a VP she has done it all. But nothing and I mean nothing is as scary to a woman as stepping on a scale, looking at the numbers on it, and finally making a firm commitment to lose weight. And that is exactly what Jen did in her third book, Such a Pretty Fat.

Jen is what I would call delusionally confident. When she looks in the mirror all she sees is great hair, a beautiful smile, perfect skin. It never occurs to her that her hair is attached to a bowling-ball sized head, or that her perfect skin is stretched to max capacity. Even after she splits a pair of pants while bending over and knocks a strangers wine glass off a table at a resturaunt with her ass, she still labors under the fantasy that she still looks the way she did back in her VP or even sorority days. And not until she has to go on a book tour and has a panic attack about not fitting into an airplane seat does she decided that changes need to be made.

This is normally when I would put the book down and move onto something else. Weight loss is an issue near and dear to me, but reading about other people’s weight loss is about as appealing as giving up chocolate cake for carrot sticks. I hate all the motivational inspirational rah rah bullshit that inevitibly accompanies everyone’s weight loss story. As anyone who has ever tried to lose a signifigant amount of weight can attest to: Weight Loss is a Bitch.

But Jen takes a realistic approach to her weight loss. She realizes that crazy surgeries are not her thing, but neither is self-control. She opts for Jenny Craig because they tell you what to eat and when to eat and take all of the guess work out of it. Things move along well enough at first and then the proverbial wall is hit. She wants to learn to eat like a human, not live out of boxes. And through a series of unfortunate events moves from JC to Weight Watchers. We’ll just say that her opinion of WW is that it is one step up from a cult and leave it at that.

She also starts working out, telling her gym owner that she wants the meanest surliest personal trainer they have to work with her. And when she gets a voicemail from her new trainer Barbie to confirm her first session with her she almost has a stroke.

Jen Lancaster is nothing if not brutally honest. And she approached telling this story with an honesty that I appreciated. She tells you all of the nasty little secrets about her weight loss. Her cheating on her diet and looking for any excuse to not go to the gym. She talks about her inability to climb a flight of stairs without getting winded. And how it doesn’t matter what she wears it is always too small and never fits right.

It was refreshing to hear someone say what plays through my head on most days, which is: You don’t need to be a genius to lose weight. You just have to use some common sense. You know that salads and grilled chicken are better for you then stuffed shells and au gratin potatoes. But the stuffed shells taste way better. You know what you should eat and not eat and that sitting and watching sports on TV is not the equivalent of actually participating in them. But Goddamn, if you want to sit and watch TV instead of going to the gym and you opt for cookies instead of cucumber slices it is OK. You aren’t a failure, you are a human.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. Details are here and the growing number of participants and their blogs are here. And check here for more of BeeGeek’s reviews.

Cannonball Read / BeeGeek

Books | January 13, 2009 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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