FGvW Reviews: Down Size, Part 1

Disclaimer:  Back in July 2013, Professor Ted Spiker sent me an email asking to interview me in connection with a book that he was working on.  He has come across FatGirlvsWorld and wanted to chat about some of my experiences.  Our email correspondence went on for a little bit.  In January 2014, he showed me the first draft of how he was going to weave my words into his book.  It wasn't until Dacia showed sent me a tweet that I realized that the book had been published (and that many of my friends had also been interviewed (**waves to Dacia and Tina**).  My review is not sponsored (i.e, I purchased my own copy of the book and was not compensated for my time/thoughts) and as always, unfiltered.

I have read many weight loss/health gain books over the years.  Most of them suck for a variety of reasons.  Some latch on to a fad diet or philosophy.  Some only scrape the surface of what it means to really change your life and your body.  Some offer no new insights, but rather just repackage truisms, slogans, and dogmatic beliefs about how to operate our bodies.  Some are so stuck in their own story that they don't realize they may be an exception, a bore, or even a bit loco in the coco. 

But this wasn't it.  I said to Prof. Spiker last night that, "I don't think I have ever dog-eared a weight loss book as much as I have Down Size. Gonna have to digest this one." And I totally meant it! Not only was it a page turner because it was funny and genuine, but it gave me lots to think about in regards to my own journey and where I am right now.

The book is divided into three parts, and so I'm going to do my review in three parts because there's a lot to go through. However, lots of the chapters are interrelated (such as 1. Foundation and 5. Inspection) Up first? 

Part 1:  Up Size:
Getting Stuck

1. Foundation
2. Temptation
3. Frustration
4. Humiliation

As a rule, I kinda hate snooty, didactic weight loss/health gain books -- the ones that start to the tune of "I am a doctor! Do what I tell you to do!" or "I did it! Do exactly what I did!" or even worse -- "I have no business writing this book. I have no experience or expertise. but weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry, so here's a book."

Down Size is none of these.  Ted Spiker has been in the trenches with us (underneath a pile of tacos, perhaps) and knows that if weight loss were an easy thing, we'd all be doing it.  But it's complex and confusing. It's not a straight line.  The book weave humor, anecdote, and science into a narrative that shows how to tune out the extraneous and how to tune in to the important stuff that happens along the way.

1. Foundation — Spiker discusses how physiology (biology) and psychology are expressed in our bodies both in the past and in the present.  This is our foundation. "[F]oundation isn't about blame." That's a heavy concept for a lot of people (myself included).  This is one of those "Do Not Pass Go; Do Not Collect $200" moments:  In order to make any lasting change in our life, we have to investigate how we arrived at the person we currently are, we have to go beyond the fact that we are overweight and figure out why that is. It's more than just having the knowledge.  As a health/fitness writer, Spiker had access to all kinds of knowledge and resources, but there was a gap between the knowledge and the application. Our bodies are magnificent machines that prefer a degree of homeostasis.  When we gain (excessive) weight, there's a disruption either in our physiology/biology or our psychology (or you're pregnant).  Being able to pinpoint that reason is like finding a key to unlocking the doors that have kept us from who we want to be.

2. Temptation — **puts down the potato chips to write this** Remember how I said above that weight loss/health gain isn't a straight line? In this chapter, Spiker talks about all the gravitational forces that pull us away from that line, and more importantly, how to develop strategies to right ourselves.  In this clip from the Dr. Oz Show, he talks about one of his strategies:  If/Then.  Spiker shows that it's not about willpower, but more about creating strategies for upholding the goals you have.

3. Frustration (where my head/heart/body is currently).  Spiker quotes his friend, Doug Newburg with a variation on the old adage about the definition of insanity, "If it's not working, then why do you keep doing the same thing?" When we're frustrated (i.e., stressed) we often revert to what we know. In the case of people who are overweight/obese, "what we know" is often what got us to where we are in the first place. But if we're frustrated by not getting results, we have to change the process and the beliefs that conveyed us to where we stand. Often this means we need to take a step back, re-assess, and re-calibrate. In my world, that usually means going back to what makes me happy -- or rather, what relieves the judgment and frustration.

4. Humiliation — Spiker points out that "[s]hame is internal; humiliation exposes you to the world."  writes "and that when we experience humiliation, we have two choices: "crumple or push on."  In other words, humiliation is outside force trying to divorce us from our sense of place in the world as well as our sense of self. Spiker asks us to examine how we respond in those moments all the while sharing some of his humiliating moments.

Up next?

Part 2:  Down Size:
Getting Going

5. Inspection
6. Motivation
7. Nutrition
8. Perspiration

Highs & Lows

Getting down to 188 lbs was awesome.  It was the culmination of a lot of work and dedication.  I was exercising on a regular basis, watching what I ate and logging about 85% of my weekly meals.  I was cooking for myself and enjoying trying new recipes.

And then I (1) got complacent and took a "break" (yeah, y'all know how that goes) (gained 5lbs) and (2) got injured (I hope y'all do not know how that goes) (see below).  I haven't had any consistent effort in the gym since hurting my back in February.  I went to the gym twice last week and spent the long weekend either in bed or walking around in pain.

FGvW would say "don't worry; focus on what you can do."  Robby, however, is all whiny and depressed. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd feel a loss of self, of identity without being able to work out and be strong.  I also feel like I have nothing new to say and/or that everything I do say is either "I'm injured" or "I'm depressed."

So yeah, you see two paragraphs up where I say I went to the gym? Well I made the mistake of jumping on a scale after a weekend of...shall we say.... indulging...

not happy at all

I can't use the same equation that I used over the past few years to lose the weight.  My back dictates what I can and can't do as well as what I should and shouldn't do. 

I know that I should watch what I eat, eliminate junk from my diet (including alcohol), and do what I can, when I can.  But right now I'm kinda stuck in a loop of feeling sorry for myself (for good reason!) and feeling unsure about my future prognosis. This makes ice cream look especially delicious.