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Diary of an Exercise Addict.



GPP Life

Peach Friedman was a middle-class American college student when a series of events took an emotional toll on her. She found herself living back at home, massively restricting her diet and obsessively working off calories at the gym. It is difficult to find new territory within the genre of memoirs about eating disorders, but this story of descent into exercise bulimia and the long, slow road to recovery is fresh and full of insights about health, beauty, family and growing up.

Friedman is also a poet, and she brings something special to this book--not through her use of language, which is clear but not lyrical, but in the thoughtful way she tells her story. There is something about Friedman's introspection that is literary, not self-indulgent, and her narrative is always charming and never whiny. Her insight into her own illness is exceptionally convincing and it is believable that she could recognize, understand and analyze her own symptoms and behaviour while still being completely unable to control them.

It is disturbing that Friedman is applauded for her rapid weight gain as she begins to recover, since her behaviour remains far from healthy. She binges and continues her obsessive exercise regime, highlighting one of the many complex aspects of eating disorders-namely, that families and health professionals are often pleased to have the patient look and act normal (eating and maintaining a normal weight) even if they are still harming themself.

Even Friedman herself cannot explain all the causes of her exercise bulimia. But she suspects it may be difficult for smart, artistic, middle-class girls to grow up when they are so sheltered and cared for, and also that she was susceptible to this disease because of her own privilege. Diary of an Exercise Addictis one of the few eating disorder memoirs that consider questions of class as well as gender, and this makes it an intelligent and profound book.


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Author:Rothstein, Kris
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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