Welcome to another Throwback Thursday Review, this week I picked Stranger Here by Jen Larsen. I read this book last year as an attempt to branch out into some non-fiction books. I have been on my own weight loss journey and saw this book recommended on some site and decided to give it a go. I had a fairly strong reaction to it, as you will read in my review. Apparently I am more successful at losing weight than changing my reading habits because I still have trouble finding non-fiction books that interest me. I used to make the same pledge each year to read outside of my comfort zone; non-fiction, classics, different genres. This year I said screw it and have just decided to read what I like.
Read from May 4-8 2013
Before my review let me state that I do not read Ms. Larsen’s blog and I have no plans to start reading her blog. I am critiquing her book and journey based purely on the information she shares in her book. If there is actions she took that she did not mention, before you flame me(and all flames will be ignored and I will just think you are an ass), remember I have no way of knowing about them if they were not in her book. Also I seriously doubt that my opinion is going to affect Ms. Larsen’s feelings or book sales. There are many of you out there that seem to simply love this book and its author, I’m happy that you enjoyed this book and are so supportive of her. For me however…I found myself being very angry with her actions and the example she was setting for other people. I am still glad I read the book, and the third star of my rating was earned in that epilogue alone where she tells other to do as she says not as she has done! I am donating my copy of this book to the library where I work, and I will recommend it to my patrons as a cautionary tale of what not to do. I am not against W.L.S., for some it truly is a tool and the only option left to a healthier lifestyle.
Now a little bit about me, for context in reading why I am so critical. I once weighed over 400 pounds. I have been losing weight for the past three years and have recently reached the 200 pounds lost mark. I still have 40 pounds to go before I reach my goal weight and I hope to reach it this year, if I don’t that’s okay I KNOW I will get there eventually. I did not have any sort of surgery, I did not use any gimmicks, pills, powders, starvation or other crazy stupid unhealthy diet (example: cutting all carbs, or dairy or only eating cabbage). I lost my weight through learning to control my portions, count calories and then eliminating unhealthy food from my diet, learning to eat vegetables, cutting sodium and red meat. I changed my relationship with food and how I ate, then I added exercise so that my body would be healthy and not just thin.
This book made me angry because it seemed like Ms. Larsen just woke up one day and deciding that she had to have weight loss surgery to fix everything wrong in her life. The book makes it sound like she did not even try to lose her weight through life style changes, eating right and exercise. She had her mind set on surgery and that was going to be the only way. Of course by the sounds of it the weight loss industry that revolves around these surgeries fed this lie and stream rolled her and others into getting it done. It sounds as if these companies only care about making sure you are a candidate and are approved so they get get your $$$. They hand you a list of doctors to go see that of course are going to rubber stamp you and not actually question your motives or mentality. Do they even try to educate their patients about the non-surgical methods of losing weight and that IT IS POSSIBLE! DIETS DON’T ALWAYS FAIL! You need to have some willpower, and really that comes pretty quick once you start losing weight. You just have to want it bad enough to work for it. There is no quick fix, there is no easy way, even surgery is not an easy way as Ms. Larsen discovers, and losing weight is not going to automatically fix what is wrong in your life or head any more than say moving across the country. I was really disappointed that she couldn’t even bring herself to lose the 20 pounds the doctors recommended before surgery. They are going to be preforming an operation that is going to alter your life and body for ever, don’t you think you should listen to what they are telling you to do! She wanted the change but didn’t want to have to do any work for it. She did not earn her weight loss, if she had maybe it would have not messed with her mind as much. By earn, I mean make any changes at all in her diet or way of living, she continued to not exercise and continued to eat crap. I still eat crap too, but I do so in moderation, but on the whole I know that I want to reach my goal weight a hell of a lot more than I want that slice of pizza…and I really miss pizza. It wasn’t until she realized that the weight she lost was not going to fix all that was wrong in her life did she start to examine her eating habits and lack of exercise. I don’t think she ever gave up the drinking and smoking. It was then that I began to start to respect the author even a little, she had redeemed herself in my eyes.
Everyone who has a significant amount of weight to lose has to find their own way and this is Ms. Larsen’s journey. They also must choose it for themselves not for those around them. I do agree with her at the end Life is easier when you are thinner, it is a shame that our society puts thinness on such a high pedestal because we are ostracizing some pretty amazing people out there that don’t fit into into societies parameters of acceptance. While I don’t approve of her methods I am happy for her for her results. Everyone deserves to be happy and to have what they want, and I hope that she is finally at a place in her life. I hope she has changed her self-destructive behavior and continues to do well in life.
Like I said I am glad I read the book and am going to encourage others to read it as well. In the end it makes me really happy and thankful that I chose to lose weight the way I did, through determination and hard work. After I am done losing I am going to know how to keep it off, I will have my own set of tools and knowledge to help me stay healthy and active for the rest of my like. Sometimes W.L.S is not permanent, it is not a guarantee that you will keep the weight off forever. If you do not change your eating habits your relationship with food you can gain it all back despite having surgery. My way might have been slower, but it was healthier and a whole hell of a lot less expensive. I also have not had these side effects that she talks about throughout the second half of the book. Please if you are reading this book thinking about having one of these surgeries, please….please try my way first. Try changing your diet and exercising. I lost 200 pound, it can be done. If you succeed you saved yourself a ton of money and possible complications. Surgery is always an option, but once it is done it can’t be undone. If you do opt for surgery talk to many different doctors and doctors not on the list these clinics give you. Know all your options before hand and all the possible complications.
I’ve read one other book about a person’s personal weight loss journey, Half-Assed byJannette Fulda. If you wish to read my review of that book click on this link, click on the book’s title to visit its Goodread’s page.