In a crowded session at last year’s BlogHer conference in Chicago, I sat next to Jennette Fulda, the famous PastaQueen. I couldn’t focus on the panelists or the bizarre audience questions ("I’ve been blogging for a whole month. Why don’t I have any readers? Where is my money?") as I was too busy marveling at how surreal the moment was. Just a few years earlier, the two of us would have taken up twice as much space.
I stole a sideways glance and noticed she had her legs crossed, too. Did she do that without thinking now? Or did she still feel a flutter of awe that such a simple movement was now possible?
I had a million questions for Jennette. Because how often do you meet another person who has lost half their body weight? Who also blogged and wrote a book about the process? Who also is a Scorpio? (hehe)
Jennette’s book Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir has just hit the shelves. It’s an cracking read, beautifully written and brimming with Jennette’s trademark wit. I developed a sore neck from nodding, relating so much to her experiences. But I also appreciated the differences – Jennette has an incredibly calm, level-headed and rational approach to life that I only wish I could relate to 🙂
Dietgirl is today’s stop on Jennette’s Blog Tour, so I finally got ask her a few nosy questions. Read on for the answers.
Congratulations on the publication of Half-Assed. Now that you’re an author, have you been able to engage in any traditional Author Activities like book stalking? Done any strategic rearranging of copies on the shelves? 🙂
I’ve delegated all book rearranging duties to my mother, who is currently making rounds at all the local bookstores, setting books face out on the shelves. I myself didn’t get my ass to a bookstore to see "Half-Assed" on the shelves until I did a signing in my hometown.
The book explores how you started out motivated by weight loss, but came to focus more on living a healthy lifestyle. Could you tell us how this mindset shift came about?
Busting through numbers on the scale and leaving fractions and decimals in my wake every week was really fun. But eventually I knew I’d reach a point where I’d have to stop losing weight and simply start maintaining it. If I was going to keep the weight off, I needed something else to motivate me besides numbers on the scale. So I started to concentrate on non-scale goals, like running a half-marathon or learning to play tennis. Once I could stand in the kitchen for longer than 5 minutes without my feet hurting, I started trying new recipes. It happened gradually, but the more and more I lived a healthy lifestyle the more I found that I enjoyed it.
You write about walking on the treadmill at 3 miles an hour when you first started on your lard-busting mission. And now three years later you’ve just finished running your first half-marathon! Could you tell us how you got into running and what it’s brought to your life?
Well, you’ve got to walk before you run. My main form of exercise during my first year of weight loss was simply walking. I walked on a treadmill, going farther and faster each month. I didn’t run at first because I feared that I’d injure myself. I’d hurt my knee by just walking up the stairs, so running probably would have landed me in the hospital. Frankly, I was surprised the treadmill was able to handle my size without burning out the motor.
Once I’d lost over a hundred pounds, I stood on the machine and thought, "I bet I could run." I listened to my body and was able to run for a minute. I started interspersing walking and running, lengthening my run times, until one day I ran an entire mile! I was so psyched. I’d never run an entire mile in my life, even when I was a kid.
I enjoy running because it’s idiot proof. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a decent sports bra and you can go for a run. I also like that you only compete with yourself, trying to beat you own personal records. Running can be very peaceful too since it gives me time to think and meditate. And I also know if Godzilla ever attacks my city, I know I’ll have a good chance of outrunning his rampage.
Now that you’ve blitzed the half-marathon, do you have any new fitness goals in mind?
I’d really like to get back to the gym. The bad thing about training for a half-marathon is that it didn’t leave me much time for anything else. I haven’t been lifting-weights or doing Pilates as much as I’d like to. And I miss taking my kickboxing aerobics class and trying new things.
I’m mulling the idea of taking some sort of martial arts class, but I haven’t seriously looked into anything yet. I think I watched too much "Xena" or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as a kid, because kicking ass looks like a lot of fun. But no matter what, I think it’s very important to keep setting new goals. If I get bored, I’ll probably gain the weight back again.
You’ve mentioned music in your blog entries a few times over the years and I always thought you had great taste. What are your top five kick-ass tunes for a training run?
Doves – The Cedar Room
This is a good warm up song. It starts out really slow and builds up.
Ryan Adams – So Alive
I allude to this song at the end of Chapter 17 in my book. It starts out fast with no lead in, so it’s great for running and when Ryan Adams sings that he feels "So Alive" I have to agree with him.
Rascal vs. Bryan Adams – Run to You
Totally cheesy techno version of an 80’s song, but it keeps me kicking up my heels near the end of a grueling run
Dancing DJ’s vs. Roxette – Fading Like a Flower
Another totally cheese techno song, but the beats keep me moving. Nice to pick you up at the end of a run when your energy is starting to fade…like a flower.
Rachael Yamagata – Worn Me Down
Great when, as Rachael says, your workout has "Worn me down, like a road."
In the book you talk about how you initially kept your blog a secret from your friends and family. What was the reasoning behind this, and how did it feel to come out of the blogging closet?
When I weighed almost 400 pounds, I was really ashamed of my weight. I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone because that made the problem real. If I ignored it, I could pretend it didn’t exist. I started blogging without using my full name, so I was able to start thinking about my problems and working through my issues in an environment I felt comfortable in. Sure, I was spilling my thoughts to the whole Internet, but no one was really reading the blog at that time, so it felt safe. It was like taking a shower in a glass house in the middle of a forest. Hypothetically anyone could walk by and see me naked, but how many people actually will?
I didn’t come out of the blogging closet on my own. I was outed! My dad somehow found the blog and told relatives and eventually the news trickled down through the whole family. I learned that he’d read it when I visited him at my aunt’s funeral and it was only the solemnity of the occasion that prevented me from suddenly screaming. I couldn’t remember if I’d written anything about him. I was also worried what my family would think of what I’d written. I’d shared things on my blog that I’d never shared in real life. Ultimately however, they were all really proud of me and what I’d achieved. I didn’t have anything to worry about. Now my mom reads my blog every day and loves reading the comments people leave.
One of the things I enjoyed about Half-Assed is how you capture the exhilarating feeling of the world becoming larger as your body gets smaller. How has your outlook on life changed over the past three years?
I’m far more optimistic. I guess when you do something "impossible" like lose half your weight a lot of other impossible things start to seem possible. I also feel a lot less fear. I used to be so shy I wouldn’t even make eye contact with clerks at stores. I was afraid everyone was judging me because of my size. Now I can go into grocery stores and ask stock boys where the sundried tomatoes are without even averting eye contact!
Congratulations on your book Jennette and thanks for including Dietgirl on your tour! To find out more about Half-Assed and get your copy, visit the official Half-Assed Book website.