Posted by: Hil | September 14, 2008

Sunday Book Review: The Skinny


Up to a point, eating to lose or maintain weight is a matter of common sense:  eat better, eat less, exercise more.  Yet the devil is in the details, and figuring out how to apply those simple principles can be extremely difficult.  I recently stumbled across a cute, positive, common-sense book on the subject of weight loss and maintenance and I thought I would give it a bit of a shout out here.  The book is The Skinny:  How to fit into your little black dress forever, written by Melissa Clark and Robin Aronson.  (This is not to be confused with Skinny Bitch, which I can’t stand.)

The Skinny’s basic argument is this: you can eat anything you want and maintain your weight, but you can’t eat as much of anything as you want.  They advise always eating a small portion of the thing that you want most, even if it is rich or unhealthy.  Then round out your plate with lots of vegetables, lean protein, and some whole grains and fruit.  If this sounds like very common sense advice, it is.  And it doesn’t get too much more complicated than that.  The bulk of the book is spent discussing how to apply these simple ideas.  Topics addressed include eating out, brown bagging lunches, distinguishing between different types of hunger, and keeping produce fresh for as long as possible.

One of the great strengths of the The Skinny is its dual authorship.  Melissa is a food writer who eats out every night, but manages to stay a size 2.  Robin is a health writer and mother of twins.  In sections, the book takes the form of a conversation between the two women, each explaining how they handle the situation being discussed.  Often, the answers are different.  This really serves to highlight their assertion that weight management is a personalized process.  There is no one-size-fits-all.

Another aspect of this book that I really appreciated was their discussion of goal weight, which the authors call “Happy Skinny.”  They define Happy Skinny as the state where you feel good in your skin and feel good about what and how you are eating.  Happy Skinny varies from person to person, but it is a stable weight that you do not have to obsess about or deprive yourself to maintain.  Melissa’s Happy Skinny is a size 2 while Robin’s is a size 8.  Honestly, the chapter on Happy Skinny was one of the best things I have ever read about determining a goal weight.  So few people point out that a goal weight is only healthy and realistic if a healthy and realistic lifestyle allows you to maintain it.  And if a healthy and realistic lifestyle leads you to a particular weight, that matters a lot more than what any chart says.

For the average reader of this blog, The Skinny won’t tell you anything you don’t know already.  But if you’re looking for a cute, positive, fun read with some inventive recipes and tips on how to apply basic weight-management ideas to everyday life, this definitely fits the bill.



  1. That sounds like a cute book with a really good outlook. I’ll keep my eye out for it 🙂

  2. sounds like a good book; i’ll def have to look for it next time i’m out. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the book recommendation. Sounds like a fun and sensible book.

  4. sounds very interesting – will be looking for that on amazon! i love book reviews 🙂

  5. Thanks for the review, sounds like an interesting read.

  6. Thanks Hil! I too have read this book, and totally agree with you. It’s funny bc most of us in the blog world already live by those rules, so none of it is news to us!

  7. Yes, we might know it already, but fun reminders are good! I’ve been meaning to check this out, thanks for the review 🙂

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