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The Big Skinny: How I Changed My Fattitude Paperback – December 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A middle-aged cartoonist who has dealt with her own overeating and weight fluctuations since adolescence coaches readers in the simple but sturdy method she adopted to lose extra pounds, keep them off, and feel better emotionally and physically. Using herself as the model for learning calorie counting, accessible exercising, low-fat cooking, and the important social skills needed to turn down ruinously rich foods graciously in the office and at parties, Lay provides clear-eyed guidance free of touting memberships in commercial weight-loss programs, self-pity, and problems with sustainability. She draws her world with realism, showing how her body looked first as it burgeoned and then during times of severe fluctuation, depicting expressions on acquaintances’ faces as she discusses—and wisely chooses not to discuss—her reasons for saying “no thank you” to calorie-loaded offerings, and guiding readers through simple exercise regimens. She supplements the story with calorie charts and some ingredient-simple recipes. As weight-loss self-help and well-formed sequential-art narrative, The Big Skinny demonstrates that direct and simple can be satisfying approaches that yield admirable results. --Francisca Goldsmith

Review

“[Lay’s] wicked sense of humor brings laughs to her dieting struggles...The Big Skinny is a first.”—Publishers Weekly, cover story“As weight-loss self-help and well-formed sequential-art narrative, The Big Skinny demonstrates that direct and simple can be satisfying approaches that yield admirable results.”—Booklist“It’s one thing to read about a weight loss journey; it’s another thing altogether to see it. Read Carol Lay’s The Big Skinny. You’ll carry in your head the pictures of the sepia junk-food and the Carmen Miranda whole-food bodies every time you think about eating. Ms. Lay brings a potent, funny, step-by-brutally-honest-step to the canon of weight loss sagas.”—Frances Kuffel, author of Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding Myself"The Big Skinny is the ultimate anti-diet book. With wit and artistic talent Lay delivers rational reasons why diets never last and offers healthy solutions to the all-too-common problem of obesity."—Stephanie Klein, author of Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp"Exploding with courage, kindness, and hilarity, The Big Skinny just might reveal a new law of physics: an ever-expanding mind can equal a shrinking waistline."—Marian Henley, author of The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story"The Big Skinny is wonderfully appealing and always entertaining. Carol Lay really gets to the heart of things."—Kim Deitch, author of The Boulevard of Broken Dreams“The world’s first graphic memoir-cum-diet book…[Lay’s] plainspoken commitment to the hard work of weight loss and ending the self-delusion that is, for her, at the heart of “fattitude” is refreshing amid a raft of newfangled diet fads that promise effortless, overnight results.”—Salon.com “The conversational tone and comfortable, engaging humor make the whole book read like a conversation with a dear friend… It’s fun and funny, it’s intelligent and helpful, and it’s tremendously well drawn… The Big Skinny [is] a rewarding experience for those who need its expertise and even for those of us who just love great comics.” —Newsarama “Lay uses imaginative story lines to show it ain’t easy… [she] looks weight in the eye with a sense of humor but that doesn’t discount the poignant struggle.” —seriouseats.com “A lively graphic memoir about one California cartoonist’s battle against the bulge—and how she emerged victorious.” —People “You can go to any bookstore and find a book by some bleach-toothed yahoo trying to sell you their faddy diet that can make you lose tons of weight in two weeks (provided you live on a diet of only grapefruit and sacrifice your firstborn child to Satan)…this is not practical, and will more than likely not produce good results… Lay advises to simply watch what you eat and exercise regularly, which is what any doctor or dietitian will tell you… Seeing [serving sizes] illustrated makes everything so much clearer than reading a description.”—spill.com "More like your favorite comic strip than another diet book, The Big Skinny offers a big serving of helpful, hilarious advice ... Her sharp wit and unflinching honesty ... just might inspire you to lose those extra 10 pounds and keep them off for good."—Parade Magazine “The great Carol Lay’s turn at graphic autobiography results in a diet and nutrition book… She employs her sharp eye and sharper pen to recount the metamorphosis in an entertaining, enlightening and heartfelt story.” —Miami Herald "A charming graphic memoir. After failing with diets, Lay finds a solution - it's simpler than you think."—OK Magazine “This book doubles as a personal story and a guide to weight loss, complete with recipes, sample daily menus, tips, calorie charts, and more…As entertaining, approachable, and practical a guide to weight loss as any, and Lay’s personal story keeps it lively.”—A.V. Club, The Onion “Meeting with author-artist Carol Lay in the flesh is wonderfully disconcerting. So closely does she resemble the cartoon version of herself in her whimsical cartoon memoir about dieting, The Big Skinny: How I Changed My Fattitude—tall, brunette, with black horn-rimmed glasses and, yes, a slender figure—that shaking Lay’s hand becomes an almost metaphysical experience.… [Lay’s] wicked sense of humor brings laughs to her dieting struggles.… The Big Skinny is a first.”—Publishers Weekly, cover story “As weight-loss self-help and well-formed sequential-art narrative, The Big Skinny demonstrates that direct and simple can be satisfying approaches that yield admirable results.”—Booklist “Appealing on every level. It's wonderfully written and illustrated. It's funny and easy-to-read… It's honest, revealing and refreshing… But here's the real deal; it also makes her diet a lot more reasonable than anything else I've almost ever seen; this offered with the proviso that I generally avoid such books because they might give me cooties. The Big Skinny may or may not change your life, but it will certainly liven up your perception of diet books— and yourself. Pretty much step one, right there. You may or may not lose weight, but you certainly won't feel as if you've lost time.” —The Agony Column "Bravo to cartoonist Carol Lay ... she has a real sense of humor about it that makes her 100 percent amiable. You can’t help but love her whether she’s failing or succeeding." —Bookgasm.com “Wonderfully clear, crisp, and colorful…The Big Skinny is a fine effort, well drawn and charmingly presented. And if you know someone making a New Year’s resolution (or you are), it might be a perfect gift… to them or to you.” —Comics Waiting Room "Cartoonist Lay’s hilarious graphic memoir reveals how she finally purged the excess pounds and found her sleek, chic self. Tartly poking fun at yo-yo diets and food obsessions ... Lay promotes a you-can-do-it brand of exercise and healthy eating with wit and sass.” —DAME Magazine

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1 edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345504046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345504043
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Hartong on February 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like Carol Lay's cartoons. I've been enjoying them for years so, when "The Big Skinny" included a lot of personal information about Lay's childhood and her relationship with her mother, I wasn't all that surprised. Her cartoons are often autobiographical. Sometimes reading them is like sitting in on someone else's therapy sessions. Interesting -- and occasionally pretty weird.

I liked the idea of a cartoonized weight loss story from someone with Lay's snarky sense of humor. I like very much how well she explained calorie counting. The calorie totals she's got in the back of the book are useful and some of her recipes look really tasty.

BUT...

It turns out that Carol Lay wasn't actually fat when she began her weight loss program. She weighed about 160 pounds and, at 5'9" -- pretty much every responsible authority agrees -- she would have been, at worst, only slightly overweight. Now her weight averages 125 pounds. Even for a small-framed person, that's just plain skinny.

Her message of eating reasonable portions of healthy foods really gets lost when placed in the context of her, apparently very unhealthy, obsession with thinness. Instead, what comes across is a sad story of one woman's daily preoccupation with eating the small number of calories necessary to keep her (at 5'9"!) in a size 4. That's sick -- and it's not an example anyone should be following.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Wangsgard on January 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
I once ended a relationship with someone who was in a 12 step program. I did not have a problem with him being in a 12 step program. I did not have a problem with the fact he had been a substance abuser. There were other concerns that made me end the relationship that were much more serious, but it did bother me that he was obsessed with his sobriety. He could not seem to read, think, or talk about anything that did not have to do with his obsession.
Don't get me wrong. AA and other groups have saved countless lives, including his perhaps, but when you are so caught up in your abuse or recovery that you do not recall who is vice president, I don't think that's healthy either. I found Ms. Lay's book at a local bookstore and what intrigued bu the title-- I am working on losing weight. and I know attitude has everything to do with success. I am glad I chose to get the Big Skinny at the library before purchasing it, as I would not now buy it, and I can't recommend buying it to to others.

Ms. Lay has some good things to say, and the graphic novel is a unique way to present her message. I like how she urges us to look closely at labels and to avoid overly processed food. There is a ridiculous story about a friend who sprays a piece of toast to death with cooking spray, however. Not butter spray, cooking spray. Why would anyone do that? Lay lost credibility right there.
The reason for bringing up the ex in AA was that although I admire Lay's ability to keep her weight under control, she is still obsessed with food. Why can't she just eat health and not have to write down every bite she puts in her mouth? I want to master my food issues too-- but I don't think I will if it means I have to think about food all the time.
To sum up, The Big Skinny is just okay. Don't read it expecting to change your fatitude, unless you think trading one obsession for another is good.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lauren Magnussen on January 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A helpful and mildly humorous lark describing her attempts at losing weight, cartoonist Carol Lay gives copious amounts of information in this slim tome. Though it has more nutritional guides than narrative, the graphic novel speeds along briskly. The advice within is honest and direct, but it is nothing new. This is directed more towards an audience who has never tried to lose weight, and doesn't appeal much to anyone else. It is essentially a beginner's guide to calorie counting, more so than a memoir or health book - indeed, it treads a fine line between the two. Amusing, yes, but Lay doesn't cover ground in a way that is outstandingly unique...many have done this topic before her, and many with a more deft hand. The illustration format is a bit quirky and makes the reading light, but otherwise, this is hard to recommend outside of a specific demographic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nervous Girl on June 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be kind of a downer. Carol Lay keeps talking about what a "fattie" she was before she lost weight, but she was 160 pounds at 5'9.. which certainly isn't fat in my opinion. She also seemed kind of obsessed with weight loss for negative reasons.. it seemed to take up quite a lot of her life.

There was a pretty noticeable absence of real relationships in her story, and she didn't share very much about herself except for her fixation with calories. I was disappointed.

I do think this book would be helpful for someone who was just setting out on their weight loss journey and didn't know much about it, because there are a lot of good basic tips included.. but for someone looking to be inspired, I'd skip it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By MaryT on March 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
I borrowed this from a friend out of curiosity; I read some of Lay's "Good Girls" comics back in the day. Wow, what a disappointment. I thought I'd at least get some insight into Lay's ups and downs with weight loss, but all of it was glossed over in favor of pages upon pages of herself being obsessive over the size of a chicken breast and lecturing her housemate to do the same, and her dismissive attitude toward those oh-so-delusional (and OMFG so not attractive I'm sure) "friends" at parties who are fatty mcfatpants. Good for you and I'm glad you're happy, Ms. Lay, but you forgot to entertain me.
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