CF Reviews

Excruciatingly Honest Opinions About Health and Fitness Products.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why I refused to review Diet Girl's book (plus, a giveaway)

[The scene: In the palatial Cranky Fitness Headquarters (C.F.H.), Merry sits writing a letter.]

Dear Diet Girl,

Thank you for letting me read your memoir, The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl.

However, I don't want to review it.

I think I would rather pitch it as a movie proposal.

I see this story as a saga. Nicole Kidman could play the lead, with Hugh Jackman as the romantic hero. (Or Gerard Butler might work, since the hero is Scottish.)

I can see the movie poster:

Thrills! Travel to exotic locations!
Chills! The Aussies encounter the Scottish winter!
Suspense! Will Diet Girl be deported forever?
Death-defying feats! See how she masters complicated maneuvers such as kick boxing and weight lifting!
Weight Loss! The woman lost an amazing 175 pounds!
A romance that spanned three continents and four weddings!!!

Sorry, but I need to stop writing this letter for a moment. Crabby's over there waving a claw at me. I think she's trying to get a word in edgewise. (Seems appropriate. How else would a crab get a word in? )

Crabby: Merry? You can put down that pen now. Look who's coming through the door, it's the Amazing Diet Girl herself, Shauna Reid! So we can ask her questions and tell her in virtual-person what we thought about her awesome book.

Merry: She's here? [Hides the autographed copy of Pasta Queen's book.] Shauna! How lovely to see you!

Shauna: Howdy ladies! Thanks for having me over.

Crabby: It's our pleasure! Oddly enough, we don't get many visitors at Cranky Fitness headquarters. [Hurriedly brushing away cobwebs and dust bunnies].

Merry: So, Shauna, thank you for letting us read The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl. Even though I don't want to review it, I have a question. Well, several questions, really.

Shauna: Fire away!

Merry: Especially in the beginning, when you weighed over 300 pounds, you suffered from fat girl panic attacks that threatened to stop you. By the end of the story, the panic attacks were noticeably fewer. Did they drop off with the pounds or was there some shift in your attitude that discouraged them?

Shauna: The Fat Girl Freakouts got less frequent as I got less freaked out about being fat. I started out with really rubbish self-esteem - I was almost apologetic for just existing, like how dare I take up so much space! My confidence grew somewhat as I started to lose weight, but what really helped along the way was, for lack of a better phrase, doing stuff. Things that most people wouldn't see as particularly radical, like trying a weights class at the gym and training for a 5K race. It was a revelation after so many years of being a hermit and convincing myself I was "too fat" to try. I started to feel less defined by the size of my butt and less worried about what people thought of me.

Merry: I loved your description of 'Vampire Exercise' -- walking by yourself at night rather than during the day when people could see you. How did you go from that mindset to walking into a gym?

Shauna: I just applied the same Vampire Method to the gym - I always went the hour before it closed - that way I avoided the Hot People Peak Hour with all the nubile supermodel types! Eventually I got bored with the cardio machines and wanted to try group classes but they were earlier. So I'd arrive really early and hide up the back row so no one could look at me wobbling around. So at first I think it was more about finding crafty ways to work around my fears as opposed to tackling them directly :)

Merry: I was impressed that you didn't wait to start living until you'd gotten stick thin. A lot of people think that no one will look at them until they're skinny. You went out and fell in love anyway! Um... does Gareth have any brothers?

Shauna: He does! He's single too. Come on over, baby!
The whole falling in love thing was a real shock. I admit that I was convinced that no one would look at me until I was svelte - which is probably why it took me months to notice that Gareth was interested. I wish I'd taken off my fat goggles years earlier and believed I was worthy of some good lovin' - who knows how much action I missed out on over the years!? :)

Merry: Hmmmn... I wonder if mortgaging the C.F.H. would afford me a ticket to Scotland... oh, sorry. My mind was wandering for minute. Anyway. Comfort food. It sounds like chocolate and you had a very special bond. Has this changed? What do you do nowadays when you feel down?

Shauna: I still eat the chocolate! I know you're supposed to Phone A Friend or Take A Bubble Bath when you're down but sometimes only chocolate will do. I've learned to eat smaller portions of the good stuff and savor the hell out of 'em. I eat my wee ration as slowly and quietly as possible - Gareth knows not to interrupt me if I am having a Chocolate Moment. If I scoff it down quickly I'll inevitably want more, so I try really hard to eat mindfully.

Crabby: Well, Merry may have decided not to review the book, but I can't help gushing a bit. I'd give it two enthusiastic Claws Up! I thought it was dramatic, moving, inspiring, and funny as hell. It was fast-paced and was almost like a novel, in that it had a great "plot"-- all the more fascinating because it was all true. I agree with Merry, it would make a great movie.

But part of what made it so gripping was that it was a messy, complicated journey. It's one thing to disclose this stuff on an anonymous blog, but was it scary at all to think about "going public" with your name on the cover of a book? And is it strange to have your private thoughts about, say, the size of your undergarments, read by people all over the world? Or friends and neighbors and co-workers?

Shauna: I'm glad you enjoyed it, cheers! I was a wee bit nervous about going public and committing my looniest moments to print - there's no Undo button with a book! But by the time it was finally published in the UK in January 2008, it was almost two years after I'd started writing. And another year has passed now it's out in the USA, so the distance helps. I can almost look back at the Me in the book like a bemusing fictional character: Wow, that Shauna Reid sure was a nutter! It's also a great ice breaker - people who were previously distant acquaintances come up to me at parties and say, "Dude, I totally eat Nutella straight from the jar too."
I also know how much I left out of the book - it could have been so much worse!

Merry: I think the book was pretty good as it was! But Crabby has a good point. You write frankly about body issues. How do you feel about your body now?

Shauna: I'm cool with it. I admire its resilience - I've put it through hell and back and it's still hanging in there! I never had any illusions that I was hiding a supermodel body under my fat suit, so I've accepted my wobbly bits and focus on my best features. I spent far too many years glaring at my reflection in the mirror and thinking evil loathing thoughts... now my mind and body are finally a team.

Crabby: Do you feel any pressure to maintain a particular size or weight, now that you're a success story for others? Or do you feel it's your own damn business whatever you weigh?

Shauna: There were times last year when the book first came out in the UK and Ireland that I thought I would explode from the pressure to live up to the happy ending. I'd get lovely emails from people saying they looked up to me as a success story, and not-so-lovely emails from people saying I was DOOMED to regain the weight and mark their words, they would be waiting to laugh maniacally when I FAILED. Both kinds of email left me gnawing my fingernails with angst. But now I'm more chilled and as long as I'm happy with my weight, that's all I need to worry about. I'll just keep on doing what I've always done with the blog - share the ups and downs with honesty, and let people draw from it whatever they will. I try not to put any pressure on myself other than make sure I keep doing the Healthy Things as much as I can, for the sake of my sanity as much as my waistline!

Crabby: I've very much enjoyed checking in with your blog, The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl. It seems you manage to be funny about whatever subject you take on. Do you see the blog changing emphasis away from food, exercise and weight issues in the future as you get further from your own incredible weight loss journey? Or will it continue to be a major subject you blog about? (I'm guessing a lot of folks interested in weight loss will be joining you after the book comes out in the United States!)

Shauna: Dietgirl will always be the place for the lard-related thoughts! Even when I don't post as frequently, I still come crawling back because let's face it, it never ends. After eight years I still need a place to touch base and spew my thoughts. The writing is part of the maintenance just as much as my meal planning or exercise schedule. And I love the support and friendship you get from blogland. As for other topics, I've had a personal blog since 2000 called What's New Pussycat which is where I write about my non-fat passions - travel, music, sport, Scottish life and general bitching about what's on the telly. I started Dietgirl as a separate, anonymous blog because I didn't want to alienate WNP readers with my weight loss shenanigans. I'm totally out of the fat blogging closet now, so I just write wherever the mood takes me!

Crabby: What does the Mothership think about this whole book thing?

Shauna: I think The Mothership quite enjoys it. The mother-daughter relationship is never a straightforward one so I was worried about publishing some of our darkest moments. But she read all the drafts and encouraged me to be even more honest and open. She also gets some of the funniest lines so she's quite happy with how she was depicted! She's also a great saleswoman and is always moving my book to prominent shelves in Australian bookshops!

Merry: What's the big deal with kickboxing? I mean, it's not complicated. You simply find a box and give it a good kick. Why's that considered fun?

Shauna: It gets fun when you swap a box for a real live person! You wear these ridiculous padded shoes that all round and shiny, like you've raided Mickey Mouse's wardrobe, so you can't do any real harm. But that thwack thwack thwack sound when you land a kick is pure music, and any stress you felt before class just flies right out your toes! I never thought I would look forward to doing exercise but I am thoroughly addicted to kickboxing. Even though I'm quite rubbish at it.

Merry: Okay, time for the hard-hitting question. [Sets up the bright spotlight] Time to tell the truth. Who's better looking: Hugh Jackman or Gerard Butler?

Shauna: I'll have to stay loyal to my homeland and go with Australia's Hugh Jackman!

Merry: Excellent choice! I'll have my people call his people about doing the Diet Girl movie.

Crabby: Thank you, Shauna, for answering all our questions! And it was a pleasure to read your book. We hope some of our readers might be inspired to go out and pick up a copy... or to stay in and pick up a copy! Either way--it's a great book no matter how you get ahold of it.

Oh, and I think Merry had a lovely parting gift for you, she said something about baking a special chocolate cake just for the occasion...[voice trails off]

Merry: Um... gosh, I can't understand how that turned into a plate of crumbs... I could've sworn I had told that cat not to... hmmmn....
humorous pictures

Diet Girl Book Giveaway

Yes, we're giving away one copy of Diet Girl's fabulous book.

You have to be a USian, but I don't feel so bad about this. I mean, this book is already out in Canada, and the U.K., and Norway, for pete's sake.

Deadline: Please leave a comment and let us know what you think! Mr. Random Number Generator will pick a comment at Midnight 6:48 pm (PST) Monday, January 19th.

This contest is now closed.

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