If you watch her on MSNBC's Morning Joe, you know Mika Brzezinski is a strong proponent of a healthy diet.
Among Brzezinski's bully pulpit statements: that soda is "killing us." Now she's come out with a new book, Obsessed: America's Food Addiction — and My Own, that reveals her self-destructive, overwhelming preoccupation with food.
Brzezinski, 46, also describes, in one cringe-inducing scene, confronting her friend Diane Smith about her obesity. "You are fat," Brzezinski tells her, bluntly. The book follows Smith as she attempts to lose 75 pounds and, maybe even more daunting, chronicles Brzezinski's fight to gain 10.
AARP spoke with Brzezinski by phone — while she was out jogging — about the book and how she's still coming to terms with her obsession.
Q: You wrote that people have been less sensitive to your pain because you look so good on the outside. Do you hope that this book helps explain how hard it's been?
A: I'm not looking for sympathy, that's for sure. I guess what I was hoping is that overall it gives everybody, fat or thin, a greater understanding of the common battle that we all face. Women with disorders, like me, have very similar problems, fears and obsessions as women who are obese. Let me just tell you, skinny does not mean healthy.
Q: In the book you describe how you told Diane that she needs to lose weight. Should we all speak so frankly about the "f" word?
A: I think that the true meaning of friendship is the truth. And women are so often not truthful to each other. We claim to be so close; I think it's B.S.! If you can't tell your friend who is 250 pounds and [who] 10 years before was 150 — if you can't tell her along the way that you're noticing a problem, what kind of a friend are you? That's the issue I had to face with myself. Do I love this woman like a sister? Is she really a friend? Why can I not tell her this?
Q: Do you have any advice for people who might have a Diane in their lives they'd like to confront, but are unsure if they can be so bold?
A: Do whatever gets the conversation going, whatever gets the person to the doctor, or to realize where they are. I mean, Diane was really heavy, but still had no idea how heavy she was until I used the word obese. A lot of people who are skinny might stop and judge her, like, "How can she not know that?" You'd be surprised, the lies you can tell yourself. Anybody with an eating disorder lies to herself every day.