Sunday, October 21, 2007

'Half Of Me' Blogger Loses 200 Pounds On Low-Carb South Beach Diet

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Jennette Fulda went on South Beach, dropped a cool 200 pounds!

Something rather strange happens when you become a blogger. You kinda get so caught up in your own blog, working on your stuff, writing about this and that and everything else, and responding to your readers that you forget there's a big universe full of people JUST LIKE YOU out there on the Internet doing the exact same thing in their own little world. The bad part of becoming so self-absorbed in what you are doing is that you miss out on some rather extraordinary people who have achieved some rather amazing accomplishments.

Take blogger Jennette Fulda from the "Half Of Me" blog, for example.

I discovered this superb blog a few months ago and I've been hooked ever since! THIS is a blogger who has poured out her life story sharing with the entire planet about her stunning weight loss success journey from over 370 pounds down to her current weight of 180 and falling. CLICK HERE to see her progress pictures from the very beginning until now (you can even have some fun spinning Jennette round and round--you'll get dizzy watching them all spinning at the same time!).

Since I too lost nearly 200 pounds on a low-carb diet, I thought it would be interesting to interview Jennette about her South Beach Diet weight loss success story that is still in progress. And it will always be in progress for those of us who have chosen this journey to travel down for the sake of our weight and health. But it's a choice that both Jennette and I happily take!

You'll enjoy Jennette's sometimes off-the-wall take on life and weight loss at her blog, so I recommend you read her "best of" blog posts or you can go through her entire archives to get a feel for her writing. But right now you can hear directly from the woman herself as she answers all the questions I had for her about her remarkable journey from almost 400 pounds into that adorable, cutie pie of woman she is today. Prepare to be inspired!

1. We are thrilled beyond imagination today to have the ever-popular, ever-talented, ever-everything--is your head big enough yet?--Jennette Fulda a.k.a. the "PastaQueen!" Like me, this beautiful woman has radically changed her life for the better through amazing weight loss success and even started a very highly successful blog about it called "Half Of Me" that you absolutely must check out if you've never read her stuff. It's GOOD!

The journey for you began on January 15, 2005 when you weighed in at a whopping 372 pounds on your 5'9" frame. People ask me this question about my own nearly 200-pound weight loss all the time--what made you after so many failed attempts to lose weight permanently finally do it for good this time? What was the spark, the impetus, the "aha" moment that told you this time would be different than before?

I thought my "aha" moment would be when I was wheeled into gallbladder surgery at only 23 years old. It was clear I was going to be watching many more hospital ceilings roll by if I didn't get my weight under control. My surgeon mentioned the possibility of weight-loss surgery, but I wanted to give a hard-core effort to really lose weight before I started to seriously consider that.

After my gallbladder was removed, I decided I was really going to lose weight this time, for real! I was really gung-ho...but three days after surgery my motivation died down a little and I never made any changes that lasted longer than a week. I finally got my ass in gear in mid-January over a year later, partly as a New Year's resolution and partly because that's how long it took to finish eating all the Christmas candy.

2. My low-carb readers will be especially interested in hearing that you did The South Beach Diet, although you're not a fan of necessarily promoting any specific diet plan since we are all different and must find our own path. I feel the same way that people should find the plan that works for them, follow that plan as prescribed by the author, and then keep doing that plan for the rest of their life. What led you to try a low-carb diet like South Beach and why do you feel this is a diet that "is as good a place as any" for people to begin with?

A year after my surgery my brother started the South Beach Diet and started walking around the house 80 pounds thinner. I always thought diets were stupid, unsustainable plans that would make you eat only grapefruit. However, my brother wasn't doing anything crazy and he was gently nudging me to at least consider reading the book if not go on the diet.

I was really scared to commit to any sort of diet because I was afraid of failing, especially if everyone knew about it. But I really needed to do something, so in January I read the book and started exercising and planning meals. After a month I felt like I could do this for the rest of my life and really believed I was going to lose the weight this time, for real.

South Beach was good for me because I was pretty incompetent when it came to food. The book explained a lot of basics that everyone else must have learned in health class the day I was absent. I didn't have any understanding of how my body reacted to carbohydrates or why some fats were good or bad. If you'd asked me what an Omega-3 was I would have guessed it was a secret government spaceship.

South Beach also didn't vilify foods. There were lists of foods to enjoy and others to avoid, but they were never banned for life. It was still okay to have cake on my birthday as long as I got back on plan the next day. And it didn't make me count calories or fats or carbs, which seemed really complicated and overwhelming to me at the time. I was willing to think more about my food, but I didn't want to only be thinking about my food.

Essentially, it didn't make my life miserable and it was sustainable for life.

3. Now for a personal question: what's with the obsession of the word "ass" on your blog? Why not bedonkadonk or derriere or even butt? LOL! Is there anything particularly special about using the three-letter "a" word when describing your weight loss experiences? :)

ASS! I don't know. It's a word that is not so offensive that it scares people off completely, but it's still kind of dirty. My friend said a word isn't naughty if a Baptist preacher can say it, and since Mary rode to Bethlehem on an ass I figure it's fair game. ASS!

4. I LOVE your blog, Jennette, because your honesty about your past and even current struggles are things I can personally relate to as a former morbidly obese man. I try to do the same thing at my own blog as well so that people who are going through the process of shedding the pounds can feel a sense of understanding and compassion from someone who's actually been there, done that.

What gives you the most gratification and satisfaction in your blogging experience? Are there any particular stories or memories over these past couple of years that you'd like to share about how your blog has impacted the lives of other people?

I once got a comment from a woman who had spent several days secretly reading my blog at work. Afterwards she said she didn't feel like she wanted to die anymore. I was stunned that words typed into a text box could do that to someone. I felt a heightened sense of responsibility afterwards to remain honest and open about my experiences. Words have a lot of power.

I write a post about once a month where I try new fruits and vegetables and people have told me they've tried golden kiwi or mangoes because I wrote about them. It's funny to think I'm influencing the profits of the mango farmers of America in some small way. I learn a lot from my readers too. An entry might start about one topic and spin off onto something else, like how to cook radishes that sound really tasty or discussion of what a super-taster is.

I've had readers tell me that when they started reading my blog they weighed the same amount as me, but now I'm 20 or 30 or 40 pounds thinner than them. It's a reminder that if they had been working towards their weight-loss goals they could have made some noticeable progress by now. It kicks them back into gear and it's great knowing that I'm motivating people to make changes in their own lives that they were too scared to try until they saw someone else succeed.

Jennette will be releasing her debut book in May 2008

5. Your blogging and weight loss success have earned you a golden opportunity to publish your very own book about that experience entitled Half-Assed: A Weight-loss Memoir (there's that word again!) set to release in May 2008 from Seal Press. I will be EXTREMELY interested in reading your story and sharing it with my readers as soon as it is available. But give us a sneak peek at what we're gonna see in that book. I understand you really get into the emotional and psychological aspects of this amazing journey you have taken, right?

My memoir focuses on how I lost half my weight without losing my sense of humor. It recounts how I became morbidly obese, what it was like living large, and how I lost the weight but found my way. There are already a million books that tell you what to eat and how to exercise, but Half-Assed: A Weight-loss Memoir focuses on what the unusual experience of working half my ass off was like both mentally and physically. It's inspiring, honest, and all the laughing you'll do is good cardio!

There will be all new material that I have never blogged about and each chapter covers a specific theme or time of my life. It's a smoother, more polished, more organized than the blog which jumps topics from day to day. While the book is about my weight loss, ultimately it's about how I learned to take care of myself and become a part of the world instead of watching it pass me by.

And it's only $10.85 if you PRE-ORDER ON AMAZON today!

6. Exercise was and is a major part of your weight loss success and you give it proper credence along with the changes in your diet for helping you reach your goals. I remember the agony of walking on that treadmill at 3mph for 15 minutes when I first started losing weight and literally sweating like a dog and gasping for air wondering what the heck I was doing to myself.

But I trudged forward knowing this hard work would eventually pay off if I just stuck with it. What was it that kept you motivated and energized to exercise when all you really wanted to do was go crawl back in bed or plop down on the couch watching television eating bon-bons?

When people say they wish they were motivated to exercise, I think they're really saying they wish they wanted to exercise. It's a sad fact in life that you frequently have to do things you don't want to do, like go to work or pay taxes or clean up cat vomit. But you do those things because your need to get paid and you don't want the IRS to break down your door and regurgitated tuna smells really bad.

I didn't always like exercising, but I always liked the results, so I stuck with it. And strangely enough, I started to like it! Sometimes people assume athletes love working out 100% of the time, but that's not true. It's still hard and painful some days. My lungs still feel like they're on fire when I've run several miles, but after awhile I get that lovely runner's high. I also get a great sense of accomplishment that I ran a 5K when a couple years ago I could only run a dishwasher.

7. I'm curious, since you've lost over half of your starting weight (and you're STILL losing!), how many pounds did you lose before anyone noticed? For me, it wasn't until I lost 100 pounds and then stalled out for ten weeks in a row before people starting saying, "Hey, Jimmy, have you lost a little weight?" Um, yeah, you could say that! Like triple-digits already!

Those comments are what kept me motivated to keep it going despite my extended stall. Did you have any stalls along the way and what did you do to keep your head in the game when that happened? Did you change anything about your routine from the norm?

It's crazy isn't it? I had to lose about 70 pounds before a coworker down the hallway asked if I'd lost weight. My family said they noticed a change at around 30-40 pounds, but they knew I was losing weight so I think they were biased.

I did have some plateaus along the way. When they happened I tried to switch things up, either by trying new exercises like Pilates and weight-lifting or by trying new recipes. I searched online for advice and one site said you should eat whatever you wanted for a day to reset you body, which convinced me to go eat a Big Mac. That was nice, but I have no idea if it helped.

The best thing about plateaus is that they teach you to persevere. Too frequently people give up at the slightest bit of resistance, but if you keep fighting for what you want in a smart way you can eventually get there. The things you have to work for hardest for are often the most valuable.

8. Your goal weight is 160 pounds and you are only 25 or so pounds away from making it there. Have you noticed it gets more and more difficult to take off those last few pounds than it did the first 200? By the way, I LOVED the original subtitle of your book--"The Last 200 Pounds Are The Hardest." Too funny! What are you doing differently, if anything, now from when you first started your weight loss journey at nearly 400 pounds almost three years ago?

I'd heard everyone say the last 20 pounds were the hardest and they do not lie. I've been in a plateau for the last several months. All of the bad things about being obese have disappeared from my life, so I haven't been pushing as hard to lose weight as I did before.

I've started to make some progress again in the last couple weeks because I started tracking my food, which I had vowed never to do for fear of becoming compulsive about it. However, it's been very enlightening to discover how many calories are in that tuna melt casserole. I should never have had the third piece!

It may very well take another three years to get to goal, but I'm going to get there and do a touchdown dance when I do.

9. I have to ask this question since you've lost a whole buncha weight like I did. Do you have any loose, hanging skin? I'm sure you get just as many questions about this issue as I do and I've blogged quite extensively about it myself. You look at those contestants on NBC's weight loss reality show "The Biggest Loser" and you know they're gonna have some skin issues after their weight loss--especially the really big people like you and I were.

If you do have the loose skin, then how do you deal with the mental challenge it presents you now and do you plan to have surgery or implore some other strategy for taking care of it?

So many people ask me about my skin that you'd think I was the spokeswoman for Neutrogena. I eventually wrote a post where I fleshed out the state of my skin and included a link to it on my "Contact Me" page so people could get the information faster.

I have some loose skin as I expected, but it's not as bad as images I've seen online or on TV shows like Dr. 90210. I'm lucky because I'm young, I don't tan, and I've never smoked, so my skin is still very elastic. However, it was stretched out to a large size for a long time, so I suspect it will never snap back completely.

I've considered plastic surgery, but at this point in my life I don't think it's worth the pain or money. I'm so proud of what I've accomplished that what extra skin I have is like my battle scars. I wouldn't rule out the idea of plastic surgery one day, but for now I just wear tights with my skirts to hide my sagging thighs. I used to really hate my underarm flab, but since I started lifting weights I no longer fear tank tops because I love my biceps!

10. THANKS so much for spending a few moments with us here at the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog, Jennette. Obviously, I'm a big fan of yours and I'm so very proud of what you have been able to accomplish with your life. it warms my heart to see someone with so much obvious talent and dedication as you getting the appreciation and accolades you so appropriately deserve. Keep fighting the good fight, PastaQueen!

We need a few more people like you on the front lines of helping those who feel like they are trapped inside the body of a fat person with no way out to give them hope, inspiration, and a living example that it CAN be done. Is there anything else you'd like to share with my readers to encourage them in their own personal journey to better health?

Don't give up. Everything works out in the end. If it hasn't worked out, it's not the end. And don't take weight loss failures personally. Your size is a reflection of how your body is responding to your environment, not your worth as a person or a moral judgment of your character.

You just have to tweak your diet and exercise until you find out what works for you. There is no failure, just feedback. Listen to your body's feedback, educate yourself about nutrition and exercise, and keep trying! Eventually you'll get there! You have the rest of your life to figure it out.

Read more from Jennette Fulda at her "Half Of Me" blog and place your order for her book Half-Assed: A Weight-loss Memoir today. You can e-mail your comments and reactions about this interview to Jennette directly at If her inbox is anything like mine, then she probably doesn't get hardly ANY e-mails at all. HA! Even still, I KNOW she'd love to hear from you, so show your appreciation to her today. :)

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Blogger Jake Silver said...

I frequently read "Half of Me" and I will be very very tempted to buy the book.

10/22/2007 6:52 PM  
Blogger Darleen said...

Thank you for this interview Jimmy. She is a great inspiration and many good statements in just this short interview. I loved some of the things she said. I bet her book is going to be good.

10/22/2007 6:58 PM  

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