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Jelly Belly

16 Apr

Author: Robert Kimmel

Published: 1982

Date Finished Reading: around  5th or 6th grade

A simple children’s story that never even reached Judy Blume level — this is one of the most influential books of my life. Eleven year old Ned was 4’8″, weighing 109 lbs and was forced into diet camp,  while my eleven year old self was also 4’10” weighing around 85 lbs who just happened to have a rusty 10-in-1 exercise machine at home. From 5th grade to sophomore year I steadily gained weight. Outwardly, I blamed it on the hotdogs and instant noodles I snack after school but deep inside I felt rotten because the truth was, I was just greedy.

Ok, what’s great about this book? The yummy description of food — Almond Joys, Hershey bars, egg bread, american cheese sandwiches, even. Same reason why I love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so much. But more importantly, as a preteen, it teaches you the value of responsibility. That everything that happens to you is mostly within your control — not your equally obese friends, not your loving, culinary-crazy grandma. I also love how it highlights the most important defense mechanism of all during this time, sublimation. In this case, you channel the energy harnessed within love for food to other productive, self-esteem boosting ways.

It took several years but the Jelly Belly weight program worked for me. I lost a staggering 32 lbs and entered junior year standing 5’6″ tall, weighing 108 lbs. Everything just fell into place — cheerleading stint, drama club, speech contest, etc.

I’d regretted losing the book a couple of years ago coz I wanted my own kids to read it but imagine my surprise when my bestfriend Anna handed me a package all the way from the US sent by my wonderful friend, Matt. I  screamed (mind you, in Gateway mall), when I held a copy of the book, nicely preserved/battered from a public school library. I’m slowly gaining weight again (damn you sedentary lifestyle and free catered food). I’m sure it’ll come in handy in the near-future.