Outsmarting the Female Fat Cell—After Pregnancy
by Debra Waterhouse, M.P.H., R.D.

Hyperion, 2002. ISBN 0786865377.
Reviewed by Melanie Alberts
Posted on 08/18/2003

Nonfiction: Body Language

This slim volume is a practical, well documented guide for women, like me, who wish to lose those pesky extra pounds gained during pregnancy. Since the author wrote this book following the birth of her own child she has the necessary "experience" needed to relate to such women She writes with humor and a new found insight on how difficult it is to work as a stay-at-home mom, which may explain why the book has a redundant streak. However, my guess is that her message is so commonsensical and simple (eat smaller portions throughout the day, exercise, throw away your scales and relax so you don't "stress out your fat cells") that repeating it often not only pads out the book but convinces women that "there is nothing normal about denying your body nourishment and denying yourself eating pleasure."

Ms. Waterhouse describes herself as being an "anti-dieting nutritionist." She writes, "[B]eing obsessed about weight loss prevents weight loss" because "stressed-out" fat cells shut down fat release. Her book offers readers what she calls the "Postpartum Peace Plan" which essentially acknowledges that for the first year following the birth of a child, a woman should accept the fact that she will not lose much weight. For the first three months, postpartum women should focus on eating healthfully, enjoying their infant and relaxing. Ms. Waterhouse then expands the "Postpartum Peace Plan" over the following months to include such trimming activities as weightlifting, shopping and initiating sex. Other more creative tips include "volunteering to be a nude model" for art classes (why volunteer when you can get paid good money for it?), "moving to Samoa" (where fat women stand proud) and buying fashion magazines for "regular-sized women." She lists many stress-busters to help relax fat cells such as telling people "thank you" instead of writing notes. As I remember it, the stress of being a new mother was perhaps too overwhelming to really enjoy "a girl's night out." Perhaps if I read this book soon after my son's birth I would've been more serious about relaxing!

There are many passages on how to improve one's self-esteem and gain respect for one's body which I found to be inspiring. I especially enjoyed the chapter on "The Next Six Years" with its list of the health benefits gained from being pregnant. This is probably the only diet book on the market where the author states: "Carrying a few extra pounds doesn't kill you; in fact, the opposite may be true. It may help you live longer. A number of studies have investigated the lower death rates of normal weight and moderately overweight people, but they have received little or no media attention in this thin-obsessed country." Ms. Waterhouse's message is healthy and sane. I intend to donate my copy of her book to a pregnant friend who has always battled with weight gain. And I'll insist that she doesn't need to write me a thank you note.

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