By: Jennifer Joyner
Publisher: Globe Pequot Press
Copyright Date: 2010
Number of Pages: 189 (Nook Edition)
Reason for Reading: I’m writing a couple’s memoirs, plus I am avidly and personally interested in the subject matter
And because I’m walking first thing in the morning, I will set the tone for the rest of the day. I will eat well because I won’t want to mess up what I’ve done. I rip open the Hershey’s bar. But maybe you should start now. You don’t need that candy. Throw it away. Prove to yourself that you know you are worth it. The little voice is annoying me now, and I push it deep inside my subconscious. No, I have to eat this now, I tell myself. If I don’t, I’ll feel deprived all day tomorrow, and that will mess me up. Go ahead and get it over with and then make a fresh start.
I lie in bed and eat the Hershey’s bar, and then the Reese’s cups. I stuff the wrappers between the two mattresses, vowing to get rid of them the next morning. My tears are long gone. I’m back to feeling nothing. The back-and-forth has stopped, at least for now, and I’m ready to let sleep come and get me. Take me away. Take me to thin, pretty, happy Jennifer. I miss her. So much.
I fall asleep.
The beast smiles.
What I liked: I can identify so much with Joyner. While I never got quite as large as she did, I was damned close, and while I seldom ate the quantities of food at one sitting that she describes, I ate enough to virtually put myself into a food coma. I remember once when I was staying up all night baking rolls for a friend’s party the next day. While the rolls were going in and out of the oven, I ate my way through an entire loaf of Texas toast smeared with butter and garlic, until I lay on the couch like a beached whale, so sick and wishing I could throw up, wondering why I did that to myself, and wondering if I would ever be “normal.”
What I did not like: There was nothing, for me, not to like. Joyner is brutally honest as she describes binges, how she was feeling and what she was thinking, the interactions with her family and friends. I’ve been there. I am there, with the exception that I had lap band surgery instead of gastric bypass. Like Joyner, I toyed with the idea of it long before I actually had the surgery, and like Joyner, I felt vaguely guilty over “taking the easy way out.” I’d see the magazine stories in People about all these people who lost weight the good old-fashioned way, watching what they eat and exercising, and wondering why that wasn’t working so well for me. Joyner points out clearly and distinctly that anyone who thinks having weight loss surgery is taking the easy way out is full of it. It’s just as hard as anything else, and, as Joyner’s sister-in-law gently tells her when Joyner says she just needs to find a way to do it on her own, doing it on her own has never worked.
If you’re a binge-eater, you will recognize yourself in the pages of this book. If you have other eating disorders, you will recognize perhaps not the binge eating episodes Joyner shares, but you will recognize the feelings of complete self-loathing. If you have never had any eating disorders of any kind, you will understand how some people deal with things, and you will find compassion for them as a result of reading this open and gut-wrenching memoir.