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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.
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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