In her early 40s and topping 350 pounds, the motivational speaker Whitely (Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds, 2015, etc.) decided that she needed to do something about her weight.
Though proclaimed fit by her doctors and an avid hiker—she had made it up Kilimanjaro twice—the author felt uncomfortable in her body. “My weight defined me and had defined me for years, decades filled with agony and a healthy serving of self-loathing,” she writes. Dieting didn’t work, so she opted for weight loss surgery. Her memoir describes her life before and after the surgery and the stages of decision-making, which included convincing her marathon-running husband that surgery would be the right choice. Though happy about her choice, which allowed her to lose enough weight to be comfortable with exercising again, Whitely doesn't make the process sound unrealistically easy. While the physical adjustment to taking in tiny portions of food comes across as relatively simple, the psychological adjustment was obviously harder, requiring regular visits to a psychologist and constant communication with a support group. More of the memoir is devoted to life before surgery than after. The author raises concerns about her three children and the humiliation she thinks they feel about having a fat, binge-eating mother, as well as her fear that they will inherit her tendency to obesity. Written in brief, punchy chapters, the memoir doesn't stint on exploring the shame that Whitely continually fears regarding the judgment of others, whether she's worrying that a passer-by is silently criticizing her for allowing her daughter to eat a hot dog, embarrassed about using a seat-belt extension on an airplane, or hiring an au pair to do the active things with her kids that she can't do.
Those curious about the pros and cons of weight loss surgery will find some answers here, though Whitely makes it clear that her decision is a personal one and that others might take different paths.