Someone who has inspired a lot of people through her weight loss success is Jennette.
She is the author behind the blog "Half of me" where she writes about her way to a thinner life.
I caught up with Jennette and asked her a few questions.
What made you decide to lose weight?
No single thing made me fat and no single thing made me decide to lose weight. I had to have my removed at age 23. I was so morbidly obese that my knees hurt when I climbed the stairs. They didn't stock large enough pants at the plus-sized stores for me. My belly was rubbing up against the steering wheel in my car.
I'd always known I needed to lose weight but I never did, just like some people stay in dead-end jobs or bad relationships even though they know they should make a change. My brother lost about 80 pounds and he helped spur me to finally get my ass in gear too.
The beginning is usually the worst, how was it for you?
I transitioned slowly, starting to exercise the first week and changing my diet the next week. I've heard it takes 30 days to develop new habits, which sounds about right. I really hated having to learn how to cook, especially since standing in the kitchen made my feet hurt.
But I started to feel significantly better almost right away. I was less moody, didn't feel the need to take a nap in the afternoon, and I could concentrate easier. I lost a lot of weight at first too, so all those positive factors motivated me to stick with it.
To decide to lose weight is one thing, what diet to choose is another. How did you know what direction to take in order to lose weight?
My brother had lost 80 pounds following the South Beach Diet and I knew he wasn't doing anything crazy, like eating only purple foods on Friday. I decided to read the book and try it out too. I figured if I didn't lose weight it probably wouldn't make me any fatter either.
I also read a lot of health and diet blogs and web sites and compared information from lots of different sources. Some common tips and ideas showed up in all those sources. Most importantly I found something that sounded like I could do it for the rest of my life without making me miserable.
Did your family support you or did they think it was just another attempt that would fail?
My family was pretty awesome. My brother was encouraging without being a nag. It was great that we could chat about different aspects of the diet with each other without annoy other people about it. My mom kept a section of the kitchen counter clean so I had room to cook. She hid her ice cream under the frozen okra so I wouldn't be tempted by it when I opened the fridge door. She also bought me flowers after some of my weight milestones. Not to mention she ponied up the cash to buy me a treadmill.
Did you find it easier to buy clothes after you lost weight?
Oh yeah. I was ecstatic when I lost enough weight to find jeans in my size. As I've gotten even smaller I can easily find clothes at Goodwill and thrift stores, which typically don't stock many stylish plus-sized clothes.
Your blog is very successful, why did you start blogging about your weight loss?
I don't entirely remember why I started pastaqueen.com, but I think I needed a place to work out all my fat issues. A lot of my life had been spent trying not to think about my obesity. Blogging requires active thinking on a regular basis, so it helped me work out many of my feelings and ideas about obesity and how society treats the obese.
I've always enjoyed writing, so it seemed like a good hobby too. Losing half my body weight seemed like something worth documenting.
How has it helped you?
It provides accountability. When you shout out your weight loss intentions across miles of fiber optic cable, it's a lot more embarrassing if you quit. My readers keep me honest and on track.
It also provides a lot of support. My readers are always there to egg me on without actually throwing eggs at me. They are a great resource of knowledge themselves, providing me with information and recipes I wouldn't have found otherwise.
What is your best breakfast?
Usually I eat oatmeal in the mornings. The cinnamon roll and baked apple flavors are my favorites. Quick, easy, tasty.
What exercise do you do? Do you go to the gym?
I started out just walking because it was all my body could handle. Now I've moved onto running either on my treadmill or on the nature trail near my apartment. I also do a Pilates DVD at home and recently started lifting weights too. I'm trying to keep things interesting so I don't get bored, so I also signed up for a kickboxing aerobics class through a community education program. I'm too much of a cheapskate to join a gym. When I started I would have been too scared of being the sweaty, fat lady to have gone anyway, which was dumb of me. Everyone has a right to go to the gym no matter what their size.
Is there anything special that has helped you or motivated you more?
Not wanting to die an early death was a good motivator. My obesity was really extreme, so my potential for health problems was much more significant than someone who just wants to look better in a bathing suit. The surgeon who removed my gallbladder said I was taking at least 7 years off my life at my fattest weight.
I also felt like my obesity was isolating me from other people. I didn't want to be an object of pity or disgust.
Do you think that your life is limited because you diet?
No. The word "diet" is confusing because it means different things to different people. If you mean it as a temporary state where you restrict foods and deprive yourself, I am definitely NOT on a diet. If you mean it as a lifelong approach to eating with general rules and guidelines for your best food choices, but also allowing indulgences from time to time, I AM on a diet.
I don't see my life as limited because if I really, really want something, I eat it. I just have to work it into my eating for the day or go run an extra mile to burn it off. I enjoy everything that I eat, otherwise I wouldn't eat it. If I'm hungry, I eat. Hunger is a form of pain and I'm not going to live my life in pain.
And what about treats? How do you give yourself a treat? Chocolate or clothes?
I've found a lot of treats that are lower calorie but still delicious. Sugar-free, fat-free pudding tastes a lot better than it sounds like it could. I love no-sugar-added fudgsicles. There are some holiday foods that I adore and always indulge in, like pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and Cadbury Creme eggs during Easter. So while I enjoy desserts and sweet foods on a regular basis, I usually only eat high-calorie "bad" treats on special occasions.
Once you kick refined sugar and white flour out of your diet, you don't crave them anymore. I don't find myself thinking about candy bars in the vending machine in the afternoon. But if I really, really want a certain food, I just go eat it. It's better than obsessing over it, which usually leads you to pig out later. .
Anything that has frustrated you throughout your diet?
I have to keep pushing myself in my exercise. Your body is highly adaptable, so it becomes more efficient at completing an exercise the more you do it. I have to remember to keep running farther distances or lifting heavier weights or else my weight loss will stall.
I am also very frustrated by our eating culture in general. Whenever I go out to eat I feel like I'm playing a game of "Where's Waldo?" when I try to find a healthy item on the menu. Restaurants serve portions bigger than my head, which makes me more likely to overeat. Whenever I go to events, be it funerals or weddings or birthdays, the foods are typically high in fat and carbs, fried or slathered in mayonnaise. It's like the world is trying to make me fat again if I dare step out of my kitchen.
Do you think you will ever weigh that much again?
I would have to seriously stop caring to get back to 372 pounds. Maybe if everyone I loved died or if I lost my job and become depressed I wouldn't give a damn and let myself regain the weight. Right now I enjoy feeling fit and healthy so much that it's hard to believe I would give it up for any other reason. But I could see myself gaining 20 or 30 pounds as I age and my metabolism slows down or if I ever have a baby.
And finally; Your best advice to those who wants to lose weight?
Pave the path of least resistance. I think many people become fat because it was the easiest thing to do. They have jobs where they sit all day or they are too tired to cook so they eat out of a drive-through line. They're just going with the flow, so try to make the flow more healthy.
Get rid of all the junk food in your house so you don't have to fight with yourself to not eat some cookies. If you don't like to cook at night, cook all your meals for the week on the weekend so you can just zap them in the microwave. Find some exercise that is convenient and fun to do and not something you despise and will try talking yourself out of. Shape you environment so it is making it easier for you to lose weight, not harder.
There will still be some days when you have to force yourself exercise or push yourself past the ice cream aisle in the grocer store, but the less battles you have to fight each day the less you will be defeated. And even if you are defeated, keep trying! Everyone falls down. The difference between winners and losers is that winners get back up again.
Thanks Jennette for the interview!
Be sure to check out her blog and feel free to leave a comment either here or there.