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The Skinny: What every skinny woman knows about dieting (and won't tell you!) Hardcover – March 16, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; English Language edition (March 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044050855X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440508557
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,917,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Ever wonder how skinny women stay skinny?  (Hint: it's not their metabolism.)

Forget diet books.  You've read them.  You've tried them.  You've lost five pounds . . . and gained back six.  It's time you learned the truth about weight loss from those who know--the skinny women who have successfully (and secretly) dropped pounds and stayed slim.

Do skinny women skip breakfast? Taint half their portions with salt, pepper--or Clorox--to make sure they don't eat it? You bet they do.  You'll get the inside story on the dieting tricks, shortcuts, and closely guarded secrets of women who stay a perfect size 6 . . . forever.  From using depression to lose weight (God makes you miserable for a reason) to the calories you unintentionally consume in cough syrup . . . or by licking a stamp, everything you really need to know about losing weight is right here in the first anti-diet diet book.  So put on a pair of tight jeans (you'll find out why), say no to bagels, sprinkle sweetener and cinnamon on just about anything, and start reading.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

One night over dinner, we were discussing the expansion of NATO, Kantian epistemology, and the likelihood that the universe is composed of tiny superstrings that stretch across ten dimensions. No, actually, we were not. We were busy contemplating the bread basket, trying to decide which had more calories--the corn bread or the sourdough. In other words, we were talking about a subject we know by heart: dieting.

That night, we stopped mid-calorie-count to consider the subject. We computed that over the last twenty years, we had lost a combined total of roughly 23,000 pounds, gained roughly 23,001. We had spent 40-60 percent of our waking hours and 60-80 percent of our sleeping hours consumed by thoughts about our weight. We had been Low-Fat/High-Carbohydrate; High-Fat/Low-Protein; High-Everything; Low-Everything. One us had even been on the All-Artificial-Baco-Bit Diet (by the way, it didn't work). We realized that we could recite calorie counts the way many men could recite batting averages (and they say women don't like math!). We couldn't recall the plots of most movies we'd seen, but we could definitely recall whether we'd eaten popcorn while we watched and whether it was buttered or not. We knew which pair of pants to wear if we were five pounds up or five pounds down. We could stay up all night comparing artificial sweeteners.

We were diet geniuses.

And so are most women. It was a pity, we thought, that all this knowledge wasn't in the public domain. We resolved not to write a "diet" book touting our Revolutionary Plan ("Only eat foods beginning with letters in the first half of the alphabet and only on days of the month that are divisible by three!"). Instead, we wanted to compile the folklore and wisdom of women who care about their weight. We decided to talk to as many people as possible, starting with experts. Then, we would move on to those who really know something about losing weight: people Who've Done It. We held a series of lunches--we dubbed them The Skinny Lunches--with our friends and their friends and their friends to trade secrets, tips, and strategies we'd all picked up in the field.

We weren't looking for magic (though it would have been nice). After all, weighing less is basically a function of eating less and exercising more (as the diet books say); but that is not so easy to achieve (as the diet books forget to mention). Over the years, we had developed our own methods to psyche ourselves into losing weight, or at least not gaining. We perfected the "Make It Look Big" technique of preparing a small amount of food to make it look bulkier. We brush our teeth soon after dinner to prevent late-night snacking. When traveling, we call ahead to the hotel and request a room without a minibar. We hoped to collect many more tricks like these.

We wanted to find out what really works, not what diet books tell you works. Those books, written by doctors, nutritionists, biochemists, and diet gurus seemed full of scientific theories that contradicted each other. Protein was the key to weight loss one day, glucose the next day, brown fat after that. We were also bored by magazine diets that rehashed the obvious: "Take the stairs instead of the elevator." "Drink eight glasses of water a day." "Try to cut back on fats." We already knew not to consume lard. We were seeking answers to more advanced questions. Tight jeans or loose jeans? Breakfast or not? Should you weigh yourself? How many pounds can you lose by breaking up with a boyfriend?

The Skinny Lunches were the tastiest part of our research. Of course, organizing a meal to talk about not eating presents challenges, especially in our hometown, New York City--the Eating Capital of the Country. It would have been cruel to hold the Skinny Lunches over a marbled sirloin at Peter Luger's Steak House or anywhere within sight of The Little Pie Company. But fortunately, New York's excess of restaurants includes some that have low-caloric dishes on the menu: The Four Seasons with its spa cuisine, Orso with its lean tuna and grilled vegetables, and Coco Pazzo with its cod poached in broth.

Still, there was the problem of diplomacy. Lest anyone interpret our invitation to a Skinny Lunch as a message that we considered her overweight, we overcompensated with abundant praise: "You know, you're very trim.... I bet you're the trimmest person I know.... I've actually always wondered how you stay so trim.... Of course, you're probably one of those people who is naturally trim, right? Oh, gee, it just occurs to me that I'm writing a book about trimness.  By any chance, are you free for lunch Thursday at one o'clock?"

To our surprise and delight, nearly every woman we approached felt she had a lot to say about the topic of weight. "I'd love to come," was the typical response, "but of course, I'll be the fattest one there." In fact, the only people who seemed to be offended were those we had regarded as too nonchalant about their bodies to participate in a Skinny Lunch. "I can't believe you don't think I'm neurotic enough to attend!" one friend complained to us, running through all the oddball diets she had tried in her youth.

The lunches were enlightening and a lot of fun, and not only for those involved. Toward the end of one lunch, a woman at the next table stopped by before leaving the restaurant to tell us how much she had enjoyed eavesdropping on our conversation. Waiters typically lingered after serving our food, listening in on, for instance, our theories about why dogs always choose Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream over steak (this preference was a "fact," according to one woman, whose father had experimentally proven it in his kitchen). We collected all sorts of advice, ranging from the sensible--"If you are dieting and have kids in the house, buy cookies you don't like."--to the, well, inspired--"Put ice in your water because cold water burns more calories than lukewarm water."

Not everyone at our lunches considered herself a dieter, at least in the cottage-cheese-and-half-a-grapefruit sense of the word. But just about every woman had devised over the years a particular system of eating and exercise to maintain some control over her weight. For some, the rules are rigid ("Never eat before three-thirty in the afternoon."); others are kinder to themselves ("No alcohol, except beer doesn't count as liquor and, on special occasions, neither does wine."); and still other women had rules so relaxed they hardly qualified as rules ("I make sure I never deprive myself of anything.").

So what works? We concluded that losing weight is a very individualized enterprise. The women we heard from at the Skinny Lunches, in buffet lines, on the StairMaster beside us at the gym, and long ago during late-night talks in our dorm rooms had all gathered bits and pieces from many conventional diets and cobbled them together to form something personal. The one-size-fits-all-diets found in diet books do not work for everyone in the world, we were told again and again. What really works is a more mix-and-match approach. The methods and motivations of the women we talked to were various, and often, so were their goals. In the following pages, you will find their insights and recommendations, along with quite a few of our own that we have picked up on the road to losing our 23,000 pounds.


The Skinny On--Creed
We Believe That Women Who Diet Know More Than the Doctors Who Study Them

Come up with any theory about how to lose weight and there is already a diet book to prove it--and still another to disprove it. The more diet literature we read, the more we become convinced that doctors and nutritionists as a group know very little, though they express it with absolute certainty. Year after year, one fad replaces another until there are no fads left and they have to repeat the cycle. Hence, The Royal Canadian Air Force Diet goes away and comes back reincarnated as the Stillman Diet which then returns years later as the Diabetes Solution Diet. In 1972, millions of Americans read Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution and ate hamburgers, eggs, and cream. In 1997, even more Americans read Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution and returned to hamburgers, eggs, and cream. But a version of those diets had already been promoted in 1863 by a Mr. William Banting, undertaker for the English royal family, whose Banting's Letter on Corpulence encouraged a diet with little or no carbohydrates.

On the other hand, there are the women who have been out in the field, doing research, as it were. These are the women who travel to third world countries to drop a quick 8 pounds. (See The Skinny on Travel.) The women who steer their dates to expensive restaurants because there, the food tends to be less fattening. (See The Skinny on Eating Out.) The women who deal with sudden urges to overeat by painting their fingernails so they can't put food into their mouths. The women who swallow hard-boiled eggs whole to fill themselves up. (See The Skinny on Oddball Tips.) The women who know how to look skinny in a photo even if they are fat. (See The Skinny on How to Look Skinny in a Photo [If You're Not Skinny].) These are the women who have the answers.

We Believe That Your Values Are Not Our Business

We're not going to lecture you. Unlike other writers of diet books, we don't pretend to be your physician, your therapist, your shaman, or your mother. We won't tell you that in order to lose weight, you positively must transform your lifestyle, raise your self-esteem, keep a food journal, heal your soul, or find God. We are not going to push sensible eating down your throat. We're not going to force you to exercise. We won't even discuss your health. Most of our tips are quite healthy, but we will let you in on a few that are not. For instance,...

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Customer Reviews

I, in turn, don't know exactly how to feel about this book.
Lauren
Getting depressed on purpose so that you will lose your appetite and not eat?
Jennifer
I threw the book out before I could even read the last few pages!
Marisa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book was obviously written tongue in cheek and everyone who has reveiwed this book previously needs to calm down. i am a size 2, 105 pounds and think this book is great. it does have some ridiculous ideas in it, but you wanted to know how skinny women stay skinny, thats why you bought the book. well, how we stay skinny isnt always "healthy" or god-forbid "american." this book wasnt written as a HEALTH book or a NUTRITION book, it was written as a good old fashioned DIET book. It is not warm and fuzzy to overweight people who want to hear they can eat the food pyramid and lose weight. this book, unfortunately is based on reality, like it or not.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book tells it like it is. If you aren't discerning enough to be able to tell that some things are bad for you then you are probably the type that is having trouble in other areas of your life and should seek professional help.
The one thing that this book is, it's FUNNY. I lost about 35 pounds by reading it A LOT. Why? I ate less and I worked out. I did not do anything drastic. It helped me see that I didn't have to "address my psychological food issues" or "keep food diaries" or any of that other distracting drivel. All I had to do was stop shoving a bunch of crap down the old piehole and get off the damn couch. It is funny, it is honest, and I could relate to it. Buy the book to laugh and realize that being fat is not a huge lifelong, crybaby deal. It's something everyone deals with. And just think, in the time you read this review you could have eaten like a million calories.... I stopped you from doing that. Unless, you were eating while you read the review.... in that case you should get the book.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By K. Jackson on February 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this not knowing whether to laugh or gasp. There are some tips in this book that range from the interesting (chewing gum as an appetite suppresant) to the odd (salting your food to the point where you wont eat it; chewing your food but not swallowing it) to the absolutely insane (Tylenol as a weight loss trick to speed up your metabolism, BLEACH on your food to prevent you from eating it). I wouldn't recommend this as a way to go, but if you want to at least expose yourself to some truly unconventional weight loss ideas, I guess this is the place to start. My sincerest suggestion to anyone who reads this is to be careful; this book screams of eating disorder potential.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer on January 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Have a borderline eating disorder? Want a full blown one? Want to start smoking to curb your appetite? How about fasting for a few days? Pure liquid diet? Abusing ephedra? Getting depressed on purpose so that you will lose your appetite and not eat? Swallow tape worms? If you find these ideas appealing then by all means, read this book. If you have EVER even considered the idea of starving yourself or bingeing and purging, then do not read this miserably, sickening, twisted, self-defeating book. Written by a bunch of sick women who are self-proclaimed gossipers, diet junkies, and bitter at the world, this book revolted me. I was expecting a "tongue in cheek" book that reflected how silly we women can be when it comes to weight obsession and our health. Instead, my ideas that we as women are our own worst enemies, was deeply confirmed. I am truly disgusted.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Heiko Jacobsen's wife. on August 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is good, I laughed, I was amused and entertained. This is satire, permeated with truth. As a forever 'wannabe' skinny and never actually 'wannado', at some point most of the ideas( not all, in truth) offered occurred to me, they are just thougths in the twilight of reality. That's what makes the writing so readable, that is why one can identify with its absurdity. I can't really entertain the idea that someone thinks this is a diet book. It is all about laughing at ourselves, and benevolently forgiving our occasional stupidity by making light of it.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I don't know if this book is supposed to be a joke or what, but I was a little scared to see that some people are taking the advice. This book contradicts basic health and sanity. If you want to live a life that revolves around a scale and can only make you unhappy, then read this book and make yourself some soup with ketchup. If, on the other hand, you DO want to be happy, read "Intuitive Eating" (look it up here). I came across this book a year ago while I was looking for something like "The Skinny" and it changed my life forever. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want - and at 105 lbs, I AM SKINNY!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These woman have looked fearlessly into the heart of total food craziness and are here to help. Wise, witty, good-humored good advice from people who have been there, lost that, and are willing to tell you the truth about it. The advice is completely honest (what to do about cellulite: keep your pants on) and thoroughly researched (from the lowest-calorie item at Baskin-Robbins to the real skinny on all kinds of "miracle" diets). And it is a total hoot to read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book as a joke to give to my mother. She and I, over the years, have tried, and tried again, every new diet under the sun. This book covers the multitudinous ways and lengths women will go to to lose weight (I say women because that is my frame of reference). Buy this book and read it with a grain of salt. Read it with a sense of humor about the subject matter. Unfortunately, the authors have really hit this one dead center. Most women I know will do anything to get skinny.
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