Before you buy this book please be forewarned that it is not an expertly written guidebook to safe weight loss. In fact, you could probably find more information on any of the weight loss plans mentioned by checking their websites or reading the book jacket. So I Need to Lose 15 Pounds is a cute Japanese manga cartoon book that will have you laughing hysterically at coffee enemas and hot yoga. Shiho Torii is a Japanese manga illustrator and author who was approached by a publisher to research and keep a running blog for five months on her attempts to lose 15 pounds using as many plans as possible. Her blog ended up being the most widely read blog among young women in Japan, and this book ended up as a very funny look at the universal topic of weight loss.
Month One is devoted to renewal and cleansing, starting with a visit to the gym, the Reset Diet, ginger tea, colon cleansing enemas, and geranium baths. In Month Two she has her first plateau in the midst of the BOOCS diet, DNA diet, shiho-style stress removing diet, and the balance ball. Month Three is natural - macrobiotics, raw foods, hot yoga, and walking. Month Four is full of gadgets - the NASA developmental equipment, spa wraps and treatments, and correction of her pelvic position. Finally in Month Five Torii looks into hot baths, massages, qiqong and taichi.
The good: Torii does in fact lose the weight and discovers a few truths along the way, such as the fact that enemas do not act the same way on every body and the joys of the stability balance ball for exercising. She pokes holes in the weight loss by sweating rituals (body wraps, saunas, etc.) as you only lose water, she shows the folly of home enemas and other cleansing programs, and at the end of the five months does the best with anything that focuses on portion control, eating healthy, and exercising. She also survives her plateaus and makes you feel like you could too.
The bad: Some of the programs are downright dangerous and really should not be undertaken without medical supervision. And some of her information, such as the fact that sitting in a hot bath burns more calories than sitting on the couch, is just plain wrong! But my biggest complaint is length; the book is simply too short to really offer much useful information. Just a few more pages (or a few less diets) would have allowed Torii to cover the ones she chose in greater depth.
So I Need to Lose 15 Pounds is cute, hysterically funny in places, and the manga is well drawn. I would have liked to see a bit more information and fact checking before the book went to print, especially since manga appeals to a younger audience and it is important to give young women correct information about weight loss and health. But all in all this book manages to bridge any cultural divides and shows the commonality of weight loss experiences and body image issues among women around the world.