Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weight Loss Memoir Review: 703 How I Lost More Than A Quarter Ton And Gained A Life

In order to inspire me throughout my weight loss journey, I've been reading a lot of different weight loss memoirs. One of the favorites that I recently picked up is Nancy Makin's 703: How I Lost More Than A Quarter Ton And Gained A Life.

While I believe that anyone who loses weight and manages to keep it off deserves applause, Makin lost a staggering 500 pounds (plus a bit more when she had the excess skin removed). In her deeply personal memoir, she not only shares how she lost the weight, but how she got to become 703 pounds in the first place.

Even without the weight loss angle, Makin has a fascinating life story. As one of seven (!) girls (as an only child, I can't even comprehend this), she grew up with a very religious mother and passive father. Eventually, the mother took the family to Quebec, where they lived in a Catholic-style cult. Makin and her sisters were separated from their parents and forced to live a life of prayer, labor, isolation -- and were more or less starved -- while being governed by nuns who constantly called the children "evil." It was during this time that Makin began to sneak food and question her beliefs. Though her mother decided to have the family leave after a few months, Makin was actually sent back to the order a few years later as a teen -- but in a much more rebellious state of mind.

Makin's experience there, plus a failed marriage, affected her life and self-esteem and she eventually grew to be 703 pounds. She was basically bedridden and trapped in her home and couldn't even attend her son's wedding. However, after her sister gave her a computer, Makin made friends online -- and finally found something to be passionate about outside of food. It was then that she found the esteem and strength to lose weight. In the course of this, she also became a self-made businesswoman, running her own house cleaning business.

Makin's story is suspenseful and inspiring and I very much enjoyed her narrative. She never whines or blames anyone else but herself for her weight gain. She simply lays out the facts of her life as she recalls how she got from one point to another. I also admire her for forgiving her mother -- and even forging a decent relationship with her -- as an adult. She's a role model, not just because she lost so much weight, but because she's TOUGH. I mean, at one point in the story, she broke her ankle -- and didn't even bother to see a doctor. She just kept going about her job and didn't find out until years later that it was broken! Given my current situation, I can't even begin to imagine how she tolerated the pain.

Even if you're not trying to lose weight, this memoir makes a great read. But for someone like me who is, it reinforced why I want to be thinner -- not so that my life can be better, but so that I can enjoy the life I already have even more.

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