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Lüc Carl loves rock ‘n’ roll, and so do I, so I can sympathize with his desire to keep rockin’ even as he decides to get in shape. Like I said to Justine when I proposed reading this book with the book club, I think writers and bartenders share a lot of similarities. For instance, both groups tend to be:
- Night owls
- Slowly farming our asses while we’re doing our jobs
- In love with AC/DC
Oh, wait, maybe that last one’s just me. Feel free to insert your favorite hard rockers here.
As Carl notes, we’re creatures of habit and we like things that are bad for us, perhaps because we don’t entirely realize they’re bad for us. I totally understand where he’s coming from when he said he’s from the Midwest, which is all about eating meat and potatoes and cheese, and figuring vegetables are weird because they come from a can. That was certainly my childhood experience, and it’s taken a long time to make peace with vegetables since they were always mushy or served in particularly unappetizing ways. I mean, slathering Velveeta on fuzzy, overcooked string beans that still have strings in them is not going to make them taste any better, am I right?
So it seems like Carl is trying to say that part of reforming your diet is knowledge, but the other part is awareness about the things you put in your mouth and why. You have to understand why you make the choices that you do, and part of that is admitting that maybe, just maybe, your current lifestyle is unsustainable.
As he says on page 111: “Next to Rock ‘N’ Roll, my hot rod Ginger, and a blonde with a big fat ass, I love beer more than anything in the world.” (Personally, I think he should’ve opened the book with this line, although his “Dear Asshole” disclaimer was also pretty funny.) But is beer the thing that’s keeping you fat? And if it is, shouldn’t you cut it out of your diet, like all those preachy books say you should?
But how do you give up beer?! (My personal favorite is actually wine, though I do enjoy an ice-cold Chelada on a hot summer day. What about you?)
What I love the most about this book is Carl’s decidedly non-preachy attitude. He doesn’t give up beer (at least not at first), and he’ll be damned if some diet guru tries to tell him he’ll be forever fat if he can’t stop drinking. I like that he experiments with the prevailing wisdom, cutting out different items that he knows are bad (ketchup, soft drinks, greasy fried food) and then starts messing around to see if other things help or hinder his overall weight loss.
The everyman approach works well here, because you can model your own success after Carl’s. Hey, if a die-hard party animal can do it, so can you, right? He doesn’t want to give up his lifestyle, to become someone he’s not. But little by little he begins to see exactly what he’s giving up by partying professionally, night after night: he has no energy, he’s overweight, his woman leaves him, and he generally feels like crap both mentally and physically.
Perhaps the most important things Carl has learned are on page 60, where he notes:
“1. Anything labeled ‘diet’ is terrible for you.
2. The FDA is full of shit.
3. The ‘experts’ are no help at all.”
The first is the one I latched onto the most. Have you ever had an argument with someone about whether “fat free” is good or bad? I have, and it’s ridiculous how much faith people have in this marketing propaganda. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating something with a ton of sugar to make up for its lack of tasty fat (which is what “fat free” really means) is what’s going to make you fat! I think Carl should’ve included a fourth point: “Sugar is the devil.” Pretty much anything processed or pre-made is going to be stuffed with sugar (and salt, and bad carbs), and therein lies the root of much of American fatness.
Okay, so Carl is tweaking his diet in Part One. Surely most of us have done the same, but have you ever put yourself to such lengths? Have you ever become a human guinea pig in the name of becoming the sexiest you alive? Care to share your results? Have you ever gone from party animal rock ‘n’ roller to wine-loving jazz aficionado? Gone from meat-eater to fourth-level vegan? Counted calories, joined a diet program, done something crazy to lose weight fast?
Testify! Let’s all get rid of this gross feeling that losing weight is a shameful secret, or that you need to barf up your dinner to stay slim. Lüc Carl, the consummate party animal, learned how to cook simple, healthy meals. What about you?
Laura Roberts is the editor of the rebellious literary magazine Black Heart, and a writing coach & manuscript consultant at WriteByNight. You can follow her on Twitter @originaloflaura, or check out her personal website.