Friday, February 6, 2009

The Big Skinny

The Big Skinny How I Changed My Fattitude is a new autobiographical graphic novel memoir by Carol Lay (195 pages full color, published by Villard Books). Cartoonist Carol Lay, at age 50, had an epiphany that after spending most of her life struggling with a weight problem (most of her life she was 30 pounds overweight), she needed to make lifestyle changes so she carefully monitored her calorie intake and started exercising regularly which of course is essential to maintaining your ideal weight, not going on and off diets.

In The Big Skinny, Carol Lay shows how she changed her eating habits, how she counts calories almost obsessively, and how she incorporates working out into her day. She makes allowances for when she goes on trips, for special occasions, for holidays, and for days when you just feel out of whack, but she stresses the importance of getting back into a routine of carefully watching your calorie intake and the importance of regular exercise. The Big Skinny is filled with examples of how anyone can adopt smart eating into their lives, there's a section at the end of the book with some easy to make meal ideas / recipes and a good different foods calorie breakdown chart, and this is all done in the entertaining visual narrative cartooning style that Carol Lay has.

Carol Lay thoroughly chronicles the impact our eating choices have and gets into how difficult it is to make the lifestyle changes that are required for smart eating to work (such as watching portions when going to restaurants and doing some kind of varied regular workouts every week) which makes The Big Skinny a great springboard for all of us who aren't eating smart (and that does include most of us).

While I know that a lot of people have bigger problems adopting better eating practices and sticking with exercise routines than I do, over the last few months I've fallen off the wagon and am not eating as smart as I could be or working out as I should. I'm a vegan (no dairy or eggs, in addition to not eating meat and fish), but just being a vegan doesn't automatically make one healthy. I have a big sweet tooth and it has become easier to find junk food that doesn't have dairy or eggs in them and for whatever reason lately I've been not listening to my inner voice that says to resist temptation. I'm a lazy cook and don't think much about what I'm going to eat, instead just making something out of a box or can (as long as the ingredients aren't animal in origin) that'll fill me up, not thinking much about whether I'm getting the nutrients I should have that'll properly fuel me. I like starchy foods, carbohydrates, and other sugary foods so those are the foods I'll consume mostly and eating too much of those kinds of foods in addition to my increased fondness for beer, has contributed to my waist / abs being what I want them to be. I still workout five times a week, which now consists of an hour on our indoor exercise bike and doing push-ups and one hundred crunches a day, but I know I need to vary my workout more than I do because even though cardiovascular work outs are good, I know that I should also be doing some weight and resistance workouts.

I've shared the above to illustrate that even people who look like they're in shape or healthy, such as myself, aren't totally and could use some fine-tuning with regards to eating and working out. So for me The Big Skinny was a wake-up book and I'm going to re-commit myself and start actually planning what I eat (and how much, because I do like to eat!), resist temptation for sweets better than I am currently, and try to vary my workouts and not just do them on auto pilot (which is better than not doing a workout at all, but your body needs to be challenged). I've found that the best way to make this work is to make these changes into routines so that you find yourself doing them on a regular basis instead of thinking of other things you could be doing (or eating) instead.


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