Book Review: Confessions of a Carb Queen

I have been obsessed with weight loss memoirs these days. The truth is, I’ve always loved memoirs (Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris, James Frey–despite the controversy!). But weight loss memoirs are a whole other story: there’s something to be said about being able to maintain a sense of humor in the face of daily calorie deficits and butt kicking workouts.
My most recent read was Confessions of a Carb Queen by Susan Blech and Caroline Bock. Susan was a bodybuilder struggling to deal with her mother’s illness when she started bingeing, spending hundreds of dollars a week on fast food, making her rounds to multiple fast food places and scarfing thousands of calories from the driver’s seat of her car. Somehow, she managed to convince herself she was only a “little chubby” as she gained 300lbs in less than a decade.

By the time she got up to 468lbs, she decided she had to make a change, so she moved to Durham, North Caroline to participate in an outpatient weight loss program that consisted of daily weigh-ins, a very low sodium diet and a meal plan that largely consisted of fruits, veggies and grains with just one serving of fish weekly.

Susan had great results on the program. She lost most of the weight within two years and seems to be maintaining, even though she’d like to lose another 30-40lbs to get to her final goal weight. The book is interspersed with recipes and tips that are helpful, but unfortunately, make is straddle the line between diet advice and memoir and disrupts the pacing of the memoir.

I wouldn’t recommend using this book as a diet. There’s not enough information about the program to follow it. It seems like an extreme diet (not a healthy lifestyle change). The book’s value is in identifying how emotional triggers can result in unhealthy eating behaviors–how ongoing stress, family issues, looking to others for approval all can have a toxic impact on one’s emotional state and behavior.

There was one page in the book that I flagged immediately, as a reminder to myself. Susan titled one of those advice sections “Exercise is my Job.” She talks about needing to take the same amount of attention and dedication she has to her job and commit it to exercise, as well. Oh–and, by the way, if exercise is her job, she “needs a boss”, which is why she hires a trainer. When she starts thinking she can’t afford a trainer, she reminds herself that she often dropped at least that much money for food when she was bingeing.

Overall, decent (and very quick) read. The book is 346 pages, but it’s only as large as a 6″ by 6″ square. Susan also writes a blog (but it hasn’t been updated in several months), in case you’re interested.

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