Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Book Overview: Need Your Feedback

As many of you know, I’m writing a book (what blogger isn’t, right? LOL). The proposal is done and in my agent’s hands. Now all we need is a publisher.


And readers.


I can write until I’m blue in the face, but a book isn’t much of a book without readers. So I thought I’d share my book overview with you and ask, Does this sound like a book you’d read or recommend to someone ? As always, I appreciate your feedback.

I’ve been up and down the scale more than a stripper on a pole. There isn’t a weight between 128 and 296 that I haven’t seen once, twice or five times.

Weight evokes memories, same as the smell of apple pie or the ocean or an old boyfriend’s aftershave. Pick a weight, any weight, and I can tell you who I was dating or married to, how old my kids were, where I worked (or didn’t work), who my friends were, what kind of car I drove, where I went grocery shopping, how I wore my hair, where I went on vacation, who died, who hurt me, and what church I attended.

At 249 pounds, I checked into a mental health facility for a week in 1987; attended my oldest daughter’s high school graduation in 2001; and launched a weight-loss blog in 2005.

At 200 pounds, I tucked a blouse into a skirt after losing 49 pounds in 1987, but hid in a too-large, draping black dress when I married my fourth husband in 1998.

At 170 pounds, I started college in 1989; graduated from college in 1996; and walked my youngest daughter down the aisle in 2006.

At 150 pounds in 1977, a doctor called me fat; in 2007, a doctor called me thin.

The scale began chronicling my personal history the moment I was publically called “fat” by a group of boys in junior high. Until then, I thought I was the only one who noticed my awkward pre-adolescent body. Other people noticed too, because not long after being outed as fat, I was inducted into the “Pretty Face Club” by my grandmother, a few aunts, and the guy who said he’d date me if I dropped a few pounds.

My scale number lingered in the back of my mind like a gnat. Weight was intricately woven into my life, embedded in the everyday layers of doing and being. Weight was usually a subtle discomfort wrapped in reminders as simple as seeing my reflection in a storefront window or the facial reactions of friends and strangers when they saw me. Weight became a scapegoat and dieting a deflection from what was really wrong.

Weight gain was a mostly subconscious and passive activity that happened in the background during good times and bad. But there was always a scale number that triggered an increased sensitivity to the public’s (and subsequently my own) opinion of my body, and I altered my behavior as a result. When that trigger was pulled, whether I was slightly overweight or morbidly obese, I lived life afraid of being hurt and was more inclined to forgive people their transgressions in order to avoid confrontations about my weight.

When I weighed 230 pounds the first time, my kids and I left our home for a few days because my second husband had put his fist through a bedroom wall and a living room window, and threatened to stab my brother with a butcher knife. As I drove away, he screamed out the front door, “You fucking bitch!” and I remember thinking, Thank God he didn’t call me fat.

When being sensitive and forgiving wasn’t enough, when I sensed my approval rating slipping because of my weight, I consulted the scale like a Magic 8 Ball.

“Will I and other people like me better if I lose weight?” I’d ask. The answer was always “Yes.”

Unlike weight gain, which happened without much thought, I was an active, almost vicious participant in weight loss.

I always dieted alone. Whether it was the Tic Tac and Tab diet or Weight Watchers, I didn’t seek peer support, nor did I have a clear weight goal. In diet mode, my weight was like a centipede crawling up my leg. I couldn’t get it off fast enough. I raced through a diet and claimed “goal” when enough people said I looked OK. With everyone happy, I relaxed my original determination and returned to my old way of eating more and moving less. My dance up the scale started anew, and as I danced, I completely ignored the emotional issues that instigated the weight gain and loss in the first place.

It never occurred to me that in order to stay at a goal weight, I had to eat like a person at goal, exercise like a person at goal, and most of all think like a person at goal. I chose not to acknowledge that “dieting” got me nowhere, being thin didn’t solve my self-esteem issues, and that life – whether I was big or small – kept going whether I ate a donut or a carrot. Until I did the inside work, it didn’t matter what I looked like on the outside, but the outside was always easier to manipulate.

It was during my recent (and final) dance down the scale that I finally “got it.” I could no longer deny the emotional and physical weight of 300 pounds as I confronted the potential for an onslaught of weight-related diseases, namely diabetes and arteriosclerosis. I’d also isolated myself from friends and family, hiding in a job that kept me out of the spotlight and living in a house outside of town.

Having kept a diary on and off for 30 years, I turned to journaling as a way to untangle the knots that got me to 300 pounds and its fallout. After losing 50 pounds, I launched a blog and wrote about my weight loss. More importantly, I posted progress photos and made my scale number public. It was like telling those boys from junior high to shut up, or letting my grandmother, my aunts, the boy who wouldn’t date me, and everyone else who launched an opinion about my weight know that I quit the Pretty Face Club. From then on I would not allow my weight to measure my worth. The scale was no longer my biographer.

When I was on Oprah in November 2007 after losing 167 pounds, Oprah asked me a question that was not on the script, but my answer flowed like I’d rehearsed it a thousand times.

“Can you even now look in the mirror and recognize yourself?” she asked.

“I feel like the person I am on the inside is the person I am on the outside. I feel like I match now,” I replied.

I didn’t mean that because I was standing on Oprah’s stage wearing designer “7” jeans and a Betsy Johnson belt that I had all the answers or reached enlightenment. I meant I finally figured out how to be a person who screws up, cries for no reason, gets angry at silly things, and has moments of doubt and moments of shame while at the same time be a person who pays attention to her body’s needs and who treats it with respect. I could finally acknowledge that I was kind-hearted and friendly, a good mother, sister and daughter, and my own best friend even with a body that, underneath the designer clothes, was far from perfect. I do everything I can to care for both my outside self and inside self, with both parts getting equal attention.

This final trip down the scale was a long, emotional road, but worth every second for all that I’ve learned and forgiven. In writing this book, I got to know the woman I was at every weight. I examined her intentions and compromises, her weaknesses and strengths, and in doing so, came to appreciate who she was. I no longer pity her or feel sorry for her or judge her harshly because the path she walked and the decisions she made helped me become the woman I love today.

Pick a weight, any weight, and I can tell you who I loved and how I lived. My former self, at any number, survived the best way she knew how. She endured loss, left an abusive relationship, went to college and worked full time, and raised two strong daughters. Most of all, that 300-pound woman initiated the final dance down the scale. She’s the one who finally “got it.” She lives inside me, stronger and wiser than I gave her credit for. She has my full respect.

56 comments:

  1. Yes I would read and buy a second copy to give.SM

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  2. Lynn, as another person who has endured a life-long weight struggle and also writing a book (like you said--aren't we all?) I am rendered speechless by how you captured the essence of a life held captive by obesity. You said it so well--for all of us--and I understand the meaning of every word.

    I especially understand how a particular weight triggers a clear memory of a time in your life. I once sat in a hotel room in Boston(waiting for my husband to finish a seminar), and to pass the time, I took a notebook and wrote down dates, weights, and correlating events. I covered my entire life in a few hours.

    Not only would I buy your book and read it, but I would advise everyone I know to do the same.

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  3. Lyn - We love you. I would read (and buy) anything you wrote! I have lost 65 pounds reading your blog and have 40 pounds more to go. Keep writing! Your singing my song.
    Cathie

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  4. I would read it and buy copies for all my friends.

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  5. I would buy it, read it and spread the word! You have a natural skill for writing Lynn :)

    P.S. And yes, I have thought about writing a book ;)about WL and my adoption story.

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  6. The part where you relate your memories to whatever weight you were at the time really resonates with me. I recognize myself in that. And I suspect a lot of people will, too. I really REALLY hope you write this book. I can't wait to read it!

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  7. I would definitely read that book. In fact, I'd probably dog-ear it.

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  8. It has the perfect balance of humour, emotion, the past, the present, and the future. It works!

    Congrats on getting an agent. It's tough work.

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  9. I wait with baited breath till I have a copy in my hands Lynn. I've loved your writing since the first post I read. So yes I would buy a copy and another and another for everyone I think it could help.

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  10. I would definitely read it...rings very true to me and hits very close to home.

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  11. I am so moved by this - and it's only your overview! Yes I would read it!
    It's personal (but not overly intrusively detailed) and it rings so true (and not just because *we* know that it is).
    And it's not a diet book. It's a book that is going to change our thinking not what we have for breakfast for two weeks.
    It will find an audience with a huge spectrum of readers - what you write about realtes to people of all different weights.
    I sincerely hope your overview is accepted by a publisher - I think this book will be amazing.
    xxxCate

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  12. This sounds like a "must read" book to me.

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  13. All I'm going to say is I hope I don't have to buy a copy.

    He he! Just kidding! I figured I'd just get a free one since I'm your daughter.

    Your writing is inspirational. Regardless if your agent sells it or not, you've got a winner there. Please don't stop writing.

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  14. Of course I want to read it! If it is anything close to your nuggets of sharing and wisdom on the blog, it will be a gem of a book!

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  15. Wow! I would definitely read this. In fact, I'm ready to read more now!! It hits so close to home. Struggling with being overweight and all the issues included can be a lonely battle. It is always so nice to know that we're not alone.

    Best of luck!

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  16. LOVED THIS - "I meant I finally figured out how to be a person who screws up, cries for no reason, gets angry at silly things, and has moments of doubt and moments of shame while at the same time be a person who pays attention to her body’s needs and who treats it with respect. "

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  17. Definitely look for a copy to have over here. I like the way you write already.

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  18. Count me in as someone who'd read your book. I love reading weight loss, memoirs, and I think yours would be exceptionally interesting, based on the overview. Hope this encourages you to keep going with it!

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  19. Patty from FaceBookJanuary 12, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    i'm in too... love your style of writing, your honesty and your wit... looking forward to continuing reading your blog, seing you on FB and buying your new book.. You go girl!! xo Patty

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  20. You were on Oprah? Oh. Em. Gee.

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  21. I'll order my copy now, thank you. You know, you lived and conquared the villian. I wish you all the best on your book. I hope it sells like crazy.

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  22. I would read anything you wrote. Napkin scribbles, doodles --- you are very inspiring not because of your weight loss alone --but because of your frankness and transparency.

    We've never met but I feel I know you.

    You're a great writer; can't wait to see the book!

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  23. I very much enjoy reading your blog Lynn and would certainly buy your book and would recommend to others. You capture attention and write with such wisdom. Good luck with the publisher and keep us posted!

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  24. Can't wait for it to be published!

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  25. I very much look forward to reading your book and think it will be excellent.

    But honestly, I worry about YOU in the process.

    I know you have had experience with multiple TV appearances and both sides of the interview/article journalism process.

    So I know you are not a newbie with all that will come with the publication process.

    But I have seen other bloggers get bounced around quite a bit, have a hard time maintaining in the midst of their 'weight loss' story.

    You have a huge advantage in the fact you have been maintaining for a while. I think the ones who start their publication process before they are really at goal and truly in maintenance are the ones who bounce.

    You had a pretty turned upside down year in 2010. And you seem to have done really well with it. But two years back to back would be a lot for anyone.

    Take care of yourself.

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  26. I was hooked from the first line, if that tells you anything. So many people deal with this issue, I think it's going to be hard NOT to read it; especially for those who need motivation and the knowledge that someone has done it successfully.
    Having said that, I agree with Vickie in that you should truly take care of you first. Having been through this circuit before I'm sure you've learned 'how to deal' and know what your limit is. As Vickie lovingly said, 'take care of yourself'.
    May I ask, is this an autobiography? A self-help book? A weight-loss success story? All three? It was hard for me to capture the essence of what I can look forward to reading (other than the fact that it is weight related).
    You totally rock, Lynn. So proud of you :)

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  27. Thank you, thank you so much for your responses. I'm really hoping this year is the year. While my story is not a weight-loss how-to, and it's not exactly autobiographical, I think it could resonate with a lot of people. And that's why I blog: to connect with people like me.

    As for the "aftermath." I'm familiar with the struggle some bloggers have had with post-publication stress. I've appreciated their honesty and forthrightness about their experiences and I hope I've learned from them. I won't know until I get there, I suppose. But I do so very much appreciate your concern.

    Of course I'll be in touch if I hear anything! Thank you so much for reading. I love you guys.

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  28. You have a gift of writing with such transparency that connects in such a personal way.
    So many people struggle with the same issues you have overcome, and they are looking for something real to show them that they CAN succeed too.
    A book that changes how a person thinks about losing weight, about really appreciating who they are BEFORE they lose weight, changes thinking to end the weight struggle.... your sharing has the ability to do that for everyone out there who has fought this battle.

    I look forward to hearing about your success in entering the publishing world!

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  29. Yes, I would buy it the first day it comes out.HF

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  30. *tear*

    Not so much from your proposal, but from all of the warm comments from your readers here. I'm proud to have been included in your process (I still have the emails of chapters you sent me) and am so so proud of you for sticking with this. I know it's been very difficult at times, but I'm feeling good things from 2011.

    Come on N - let's get 'er published!!

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  31. so, so moving.

    and something I'm living (and feeling), too.

    thank you so much for sharing.

    I'd be proud to buy a copy (and several to give to friends).

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  32. Bravo, I want to keep reading more! I am new to your blog, and reading this excerpt hit me right in the face. It could have been me talking. I too have started a blog to finally get this thing right. I look forward to reading more and more.

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  33. I would ABSOLUTELY without a doubt read your book and will be cheering you on in the process of trying to get it published.

    And can I tell you that this post made me cry! You have had to endure a lot and have so much to share.

    Ali

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  34. I would most definately buy your book. And I can't wait until it comes out. You are an awesome writer.

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  35. I will definitely buy your book when it's published!!

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  36. You had me at stripper pole, BRING IT ON!
    And for the record, I don't know if every blogger wants to write a book. I don't. But, I admire you guys who do.

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  37. Absolutely I would buy it. Even though I have cross over to the 'other side'.....the side of no longer dieting and beating myself up for STILL being above what is accepted by general society as the proper weight for my height (this after having removed nearly 100 pounds).

    Good Luck Lynn. Your words speak to so many of us. We may not all agree with everything you say but you bring humanity to what you write. You write with an honesty that shines through. The connection you have with people who have been on the same path is touching.

    Good luck finding that publisher!
    Sybil

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  38. This is fantastic. I would preorder a dozen copies in a heartbeat. It sounds authentic, heartfelt, honest... beautifully written!

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  39. Are you kidding? Of course I'd buy this book! In fact, where do I sign up? It looks exactly like something I'd buy and read and treasure. I can't wait until it's on Amazon.com. Keep us posted! :)

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  40. Yes I would read your book. Your blog and FB comments are helping me on my journey and I'm sure your book would be a good and helpful read.

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  41. When I read the post above this one, I said to myself, "Man, this women should write a book. She's funny, touching, and I can relate to her immediately.". Then I saw this post and read it. Let me start by saying, I don't read these types of books but I would read your's if it is as good as what I have read here. Good Luck!

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  42. I want to read the book now!!!! I can't wait

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  43. I would absolutely buy it. Let us know when it is out!

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  44. Lynn, like others, I have been inspired since I first read your blog. I even keep your picture on my fridge. You are an inspiration, and I can hardly wait to read your book. Come on publishers!!!!

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  45. Lynn, like others, I have been inspired since I first read your blog. I even keep your picture on my fridge. You are an inspiration, and I can hardly wait to read your book. Come on publishers!!!!

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  46. I would buy it and read it.
    You're an inspiration and I look forward to reading your blog every time you post.
    I've been a lurker for about a year.
    Thanks for writing!

    Lalie

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  47. Tell me when and where I can buy it and I'll get copies for everyone, fat or thin! You have expressed what I have been trying to understand for 15 years. Thank you for putting into words what has been in my head and heart.

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  48. I will buy it and stand in line to get it signed on your book tour. Can't wait!

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  49. Hi Lynn,

    I'm a bit behind on my blog commenting lately. But just wanted to let you know "yes" and "yes!" Your blog was the first one that I folllwed, my intro into the healthy living blogosphere, and the one that made me see the possibility. I sure hope your book is published, and soon!

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  50. Yes I would buy that in a heartbeat! Love your insight, especially that you give credit to the very strong 300 lb woman who made the important decision to work those numbers down!! Bravo :)

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  51. Lynn,
    I can't wait to read your book! Reading your overview has left me with so many emotions for the woman you were and are....and for the woman I was, am, and the one I am working toward...Thank you.

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  52. I hope your book is coming along and will be published soon. I can't wait to read it.

    I am a long time blog friend of Vickie (from Baby Steps V) and occasional reader of your blog. I started reading your blog again today, and can't stop. I just wanted to send some encouragement to you today. It's helpful to read about your journey, as I'm trying to figure out my own.

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