I'm very glad to be part of Jennette Fulda's viritual book tour. Jennette is the author of "Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir" and she blogs at Pasta Queen.
"Half-Assed" chronicles Jennette's weight issues and subsequent loss - more than 200 pounds - with a combination of humor and thoughtful, sometimes stark, insight. I said, "Aha! Yes! That's exactly how it feels!" many times over while reading it.
In our Q&A, Jennette and I focus on what happens after the loss, after the book, in the ominous world of maintenance.
We'd like your insights, too. If you're still losing weight, what are your expectations of maintenance? If you're maintaining, what has been your biggest surprise about the realities of maintenance? By leaving a comment, you'll be entered to win a free copy of "Half-Assed" (US and Canadian readers only...sorry about that). I'll draw a random winner on Wednesday, Jan. 28.
If you haven't read "Half-Assed" (and you don't win the free copy), you can pick up a copy online at Amazon or other book stores.
(Personal note to Jennette: Thanks for writing your book and for all the insight you've given me this last year through your blog and your guest post at Refuse to Regain. You're one smart and funny chick! )
OK, enough of the warm fuzzies...on to the Q&A.
Lynn: While losing weight and posting your weight on your blog, you wrote that "…public failure was not an option." Do you take the same approach with maintenance?
Jennette: After posting my weight online for several years I decided I needed to move that number back into the private section of my life because it was starting to drive me crazy. During maintenance, small fluctuations in weight are normal. Some weeks I'm up a couple pounds, other weeks I'm down a couple pounds. Yet, I felt like I had to justify every small gain and loss to my readers with excuses like, "It's my period this week!" It was getting silly, so I decided to stop my public weigh-ins, but I still weigh myself privately every day. I post enough photos on my blog that it's obvious if I've gained or lost weight. I've been pretty open about the fact that I've put on 25 pounds after a period of depression in the fall of 2008.
Lynn: How is maintenance different/same as weight loss?
Jennette: It's the same because you have to keep doing everything you did to lose weight, but it's different because you don't get the reward of seeing the number on the scale go down or the joy of fitting into a smaller size of jeans. If anything, you sometimes go up on the scale or your pants start to feel tighter.
It's also important to keep things interesting. Anything gets boring if you do it too much, so I try to preserve that sense of enthusiasm I had for healthy living that I did at the beginning. If I let myself get into a rut, I have to remember to try new activities or foods that will keep life interesting. For example, I recently I signed up for a race up 37 floors of a skyscraper as a new way to challenge myself.
Lynn: You've experienced chronic pain this last year that has taken you down a completely different emotional and physical path than weight loss. You've regained a few of those lost pounds. How have you recovered from the gain, both emotionally and physically?
Jennette: The weight gain I experienced was a physical manifestation of my emotional problems, so the first thing I had to do was deal with my depression. I got some anti-depressants, made efforts to be social and not to isolate myself, and kept a regular sleep schedule. All these things helped lift me up. I'm also still pursuing treatment for my headache, which helps my spirits because at least I'm doing something about my pain even if I haven't found a cure. Doing all these things lessened my desire to overeat because I reduced my triggers.
These days, I'm simply focused on maintaining my weight, which I've done for several months. One of my doctors emphasized that regular exercise helps alleviate pain slightly, so I'm trying to take his advice even if I don't always feel like working out when my head hurts. I need to focus my energy on my medical problem and my job. Eventually I hope to focus on weight loss again, but there are other things that need my attention right now and I can only split my focus so much.
Lynn: Do you find wisdom in your own wisdom? Do you go back and reread sections of your book or blog?
Jennette: I have not reread the blog or book recently, but I did read the blog 3 times while writing the book. I also read the book so many times while writing, revising and editing it that I think I could recite it from memory. People frequently email me and tell me how inspirational and motivating they find my story. That more than anything reminds me that I've done this before and can do it again.
Lynn: I loved the imagery of you and your body in "couples counseling," and also that in maintenance, you're on "permanent probation." Are you and your body still working out issues, and are you friends with your probation officer?
Jennette: The first few years were the happy, giddy dating years. Now we've settled into the more comfortable, couple's period of our relationship where I have to work harder to keep things interesting. However, I'm not looking for any divorce lawyers yet :)
Lynn: Another quote I like and would like you to expound on in light of maintenance/gain/chronic pain: "I've heard it said that people need to love themselves no matter what, but I think you have to earn your own love through the things you do for yourself. I had to shape myself into someone worth loving, someone worthy of my own respect."
Jennette: Yeah, it's important to treat yourself well. It's sad how some people will say awful things about themselves that they would never say to anyone else or how they'll treat themselves more poorly than they'd treat others. I still try to treat myself well and I think I'm a lovable person :)
Lynn: At the end of your book you were Jennette 2.0. What upgrade number are you at now?
Jennette: Oh, I think we're still at Jennette 2.0, but I'm working on a patch to fix some recently discovered operating system errors :)
Lynn: Do you still feel "proud and powerful?"
Jennette: Yeah, I do. I'm a believer that your weight is not the ultimate determiner of your self-esteem. So no matter how that fluctuates, I still feel pretty proud of what I've accomplished and believe I have the power to do whatever I want in life if I work hard enough for it.