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Finding Self After Losing Weight

She lived the large life as an overweight child who became an overweight adult -- always wondering what would it be like to be thin.

Author Frances Kuffel once weighed 338 pounds, but in one year she shed 173 pounds. And, suddenly she found herself in the world of the thin.

Kuffel chronicles her transformation in her new book "Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self."

From a very young age, she tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm , she was obsessed with food.

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"There is nothing in my childhood that I don't associate with food," Kuffel says. "I think of John Kennedy's assassination and I think I was sick in bed eating doughnuts at 6 years old. It's that pervasive."

And being fat defined her. "I thought because Frances sounded like fat, that's why I was named Frances. I wanted to be named Kathy or Junior. As a very young child, I thought junior was a great name."

As she grew up and became an adult, Kuffel got to a point when she hit the scales at almost 230 pounds, while living in Manhattan working as a literary agent. It was at that point that something interesting happened.

She says, "A friend got very drunk one night and took me to task at great length. And in a series of weeks, other incidents followed with his inventory of me. And one night I was walking across my living room and brooding about it and thinking, 'Why should I care what he thinks? He's nothing but an alcoholic.' And it was as though the ceiling spoke back. And it said 'And you would be.... addicted to food.'"

So she decided to go to a 12-step program. She says, "I just never wanted to be at anyone's mercy like that again, ever."

In a remarkable year, she dropped from a size 32 to a size 10. And she puts it, she landed on another planet.

She says, " When you're dieting, it's easy. There's always good news on the scale. I wasn't keeping track of the sizes very assiduously. All of a sudden, my mother takes me shopping and I'm in a size 10. One of the girls I had gone to high school with, made a comment, 'Gee, I'm not a size 10.' And suddenly, I've become one of the people that I've envied and watched and thought, 'Oh, they have a great life' for all these years."

But that was only the beginning for Kuffel. Other things had to be taken care of. She explains, "Everything from how to walk to how to think, to how to feel - I am still working on how to feel - to how to dress, how to talk to people, how to present myself. It was a very difficult transition. That's really what most of the book is about."

So while being thin is an admirable goal, it's not a panacea to her problems, she says and she advises those aspiring to do what she has done to persevere.

She says, "It's absolutely possible to do it. If I can do it, they can do it. And I would say that failure is part and parcel of what we do, because we gain and lose weight. It's going to be a life-long battle. Don't think you're over it. And come back swinging every time you fail."

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