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Book Review: "Body Clutter" - Marla Cilley & Leanne Ely

Love Your Body, Love Your Self

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Book Review:

Courtesy FlyLady.net

Picking up a book about lifestyle change and personal growth is a lot like walking into a gym, health club or fitness center. If you haven’t exercised in quite a while, it’s not only scary to make the commitment and put your money down, but there’s also the fear of being judged

Body Clutter is a book that makes no judgments. In fact, the title itself is a gentle euphemism that the co-authors employ throughout the book, avoiding the harsher-sounding words overweight, fat, and obese.

Kinder, Gentler Weight Loss

You’ll be hard-pressed to find any harshness in these pages, unless it’s co-authors Marla Cilley and Leanne Ely being tough on themselves for trying to write a book about weight loss and change when they’re smack dab in the middle of the struggle themselves. (It’s telling to note that Body Clutter avoids printing the typical author’s photo; in fact, the only images you’ll see are two small cartoon characters, each depicting their respective author as the narrative switches back and forth between them throughout the book.)

Crawling Out of the Web

Both women have developed a large following of active, devoted Netizens through their individual websites.

Cilley’s Flylady.net created a slow but steadily growing buzz about the quirky methods she used for turning chaos and disorganization into personal harmony, one BabyStep at a time.

Though Ely’s savingdinner.com may be less familiar, her media background includes appearances on QVC, HGTV and ABC Family; she focuses on bringing family together at dinnertime with home-cooked meals.

An online collaboration between the two resulted in Body Clutter, which simply and candidly helps women come to terms with body image, weight issues, and choosing health and happiness by caring for oneself.

Finally Loving Yourself

The book’s greatest strength may be its greatest weakness – it’s not for everyone. Flylady fans will embrace it most readily, as the book relies on fair amount of insider jargon developed on the website and in Cilley’s book, Sink Reflections. For those unfamiliar with it all, a glossary at the beginning of the book explains the importance of BabySteps, FLYing, Bless Your Heart, and Stinking Thinking.

Body Clutter may be most helpful to – and most appropriate for – women who might not otherwise read a self-help or weight loss book. Because, like the health club analogy earlier, it’s scary for women living with excess weight in the triple digits to even step on a scale or visit a doctor’s office. Like any addiction, it requires embracing a difficult truth - that you eat to fill a void that exists inside you, and that you have to acknowledge this pattern to break it.

Walking the Walk

And that’s where the book and its authors embrace a level of candor that says, “We’ve been there. We’ve done that.” Both reach back into their past to pull out personal stories of loss and despair, sharing the lasting impact of these situtations on their current lives, their sense of self, and their tendency to accumulate body clutter.

If that’s not enough, there are frank discussions about the challenges of personal hygiene, the physical discomforts associated with significant excess weight, and how using food to mask feelings only escalates the problem.

Back to Basics

Body Clutter also takes you, very simply, through the basics of nutrition and explains how to understand food labels. Because much of it is so down-to-earth, the seasoned dieter who’s read every book from low-carb to nutrition-dense foods may not appreciate the gentle tone and deliberate sensitivity. Yet there’s something to be said for a book that focuses NOT on how you will look after losing weight, but how you will Bless Yourself (another Flylady term) with improved health.

This is the type of book that may make some women go out and buy additional copies to give to friends and relatives. (That’s how I ended up with my copy.) The recipient may feel loved or embarrassed by the gift, but should know that - in either case - the gift-giver, like the authors, only had the best intentions at heart.

Body Clutter: Love Your Body, Love Yourself
by Marla Cilley and Leanne Ely

Paperback, 256 pp. ISBN 978-1416534624
Fireside / January 2007

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