Sharee Samuels’ 130,000-plus fans know why the popular blogger wears black when she works out — it’s a funeral for her fat. That is the name of her Tumbler blog and her new book, set for release July 5. “A Funeral for My Fat: My Journey to Lay 100 Pounds to Rest” is a combined memoir and self-help workbook that details how Samuels lost half her body weight, changing from an unhappy, 256-pound high school senior to a self-confident, fit young woman who was featured on the cover of People magazine’s January 2014 “Half Their Size” issue.
This is not a diet plan. Samuels does not tell her readers what to eat or how to exercise, rather she lists the steps readers need to take to create their own paths and take responsibility for their own behaviors. Most chapters end with worksheets that act as stepping stones, guiding readers to create a workable plan for lifelong health and fitness.
While Samuels does not prescribe set meal plans, she does emphasize the importance of clean eating, eliminating overly processed foods and sugary drinks. She includes extensive shopping lists and meal suggestions at the end of the book to illustrate healthy eating. She devotes an entire chapter to blasting away the myth that to lose weight, one needs to reduce daily consumption to 1,200 calories. This way of eating is not sustainable and can destroy a body’s metabolism, according to Samuels.
In her opening chapters, Samuels describes the start of her journey with a harsh honesty. She does not hesitate to criticize the mindset of her overweight self. She describes her former eating habits as immature and her lack of self-love as mean and destructive. She had to change how she thought about herself, she writes, before she could change what she didn’t like about herself.
These ideas form the core of her philosophy. When striving to reach any goal, it is important, she stresses, to be kind to yourself, but recognize you alone can control your behavior, and from behavior comes results, positive and negative. This self-love and tough-love responsibility is supported by inspiration. She encourages readers to surround themselves with positive messages and images and avoid paralyzing self-doubt by planning a route to success.
What is remarkable about Samuels’ story is the tenacity with which she stuck to her plan even when thrown into circumstances that would have caused many to give up. She lost her weight while in college, but did not use the stress of homework and tests as an excuse to reach for comfort foods and skip workouts.
She spent her junior year of undergraduate work studying abroad in Scotland. She could not find her regular foods in Edinburgh grocery stores, and Zumba classes did not exist. She figured it out and returned home 32 pounds lighter. Readers can take from this story a lesson in the importance of adapting to life’s variables without giving up on goals.
Samuels’ writing is not elegant, but it doesn’t need to be. Her voice has a powerful authenticity. She befriends her readers with empathy and honesty. The lessons of “A Funeral for My Fat” will well serve not only those who want to lose weight but anyone embarking on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth.