The Elephant in the Room
One Fat Man's Quest to Get Smaller in A Growing AmericaBook - 2019
"Inspirational...I loved this book. I found myself sneak-reading it from the moment it came in the door. As with a sack of White Castle burgers, I hated to reach the end....[Tomlinson] writes exceedingly well." --Dwight Garner, The New York Times
The government definition of obesity is a body mass index of 30 or more. My BMI is 60.7. My shirts are size XXXXXXL, which the big-and-tall stores shorten to 6X. I'm 6-foot-1, or 73 inches tall. My waist is 60 inches around. I'm nearly a sphere.
Those are the numbers. This is how it feels...
So begins The Elephant in the Room , Tommy Tomlinson's remarkably intimate and insightful memoir of his life as a fat man. When he was almost fifty years old, Tomlinson weighed an astonishing--and dangerous--460 pounds, at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, unable to climb a flight of stairs without having to catch his breath, or travel on an airplane without buying two seats. Raised in a family that loved food, he had been aware of the problem for years, seeing doctors and trying diets from the time he was a preteen. But nothing worked, and every time he tried to make a change, it didn't go the way he planned--in fact, he wasn't sure that he really wanted to change.
In The Elephant in the Room , Tomlinson chronicles his lifelong battle with weight in a voice that combines the urgency of Roxane Gay's Hunger with the intimacy of Rick Bragg's All Over but the Shoutin' . He also hits the road to meet other members of the plus-sized tribe in an attempt to understand how, as a nation, we got to this point. From buying a FitBit and setting exercise goals to contemplating the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, America's "capital of food porn," and modifying his own diet, Tomlinson brings us along on a candid and sometimes brutal look at the everyday experience of being constantly aware of your size. Over the course of the book, he confronts these issues head-on and chronicles the practical steps he has to take--big and small--to lose weight by the end.
Affecting and searingly honest, The Elephant in the Room is a powerful memoir that will resonate with anyone who has grappled with addiction, shame, or self-consciousness. It is also a literary triumph that will stay with readers long after the last page.
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