A Heart to Heart with the author of Half Assed

Jennette Fulda, who recently published her weight loss memoir Half Assed. The minute we landed on her blog Half of Me, respect and admiration poured out of our fingertips and the rest of the workday was lost to her extensive archives.

Jennette has put her two-year weight loss journey out there for all to see, to show the good, the bad, the frustrated and the elated. (And she showed a rotating 360-degree view of it because she happens to be a savvy web technician as well as an extraordinary writer.)

Jennette recently chatted with us about the ups, the downs and the static middle of the road parts of weight loss. Interestingly, her biggest struggle was learning to cook, but now she’s got a recipe for stuffed chicken that’ll make 10 minutes in the kitchen taste like at least 30.

Chapter 2 of Jennette’s weight loss is maintaining, which she has done successfully for a year. She said maintaining is almost more difficult than losing because you don’t get the thrill of seeing that you’ve lost a pound in a week, but by keeping it interesting and bringing in new activities, she’s staying motivated to stay the same.

Jennette’s real life commitment to weight loss and her day-by-day attitude makes the process of shedding extra pounds seem possible. She’ll be the first to tell you trying to lose it in a day just won’t work, but losing it doesn’t mean being perfect. It means being aware.

The process of losing weight is a slow one that requires dedication for, well, basically the rest of your life. It forces you to choose between effortless indulgence or disciplined sacrifice, but, as Jennette knows, the lasting benefits to your health and your body far outweigh the instant gratification of that Honey Bun.

Jennette recently went on the Today Show to talk about her weight loss journey and her new book. She once again offered up that 360-degree view of weight loss, and in doing so, paints an accurate picture of a real woman’s weight loss experience.

To learn more about Jennette’s weight loss story, order a SIGNED copy of Half Assed from her website.

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Real women, real secrets for staying in shape

Real women on the street share their secrets and practical tricks for staying in shape.

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Becoming a runner, one block at a time

Amy started running her sophomore year in college, inspired by her father, who was a life-long marathoner. Even though the compulsion to run may have been in her DNA, the ability wasn’t. Her body type wasn’t what you’d expect of long-distance runners and she didn’t have supernatural stamina.

For Amy, running is less about the speed and more about the distance, the discipline and the goal. That is why she chose the Long Beach Marathon for her first marathon, because it was a nice flat path down the beach.

“I just wanted to get it done and cross the finish line—that was my main goal,” she said. “I didn’t care at all about my time. I didn’t care if I walked the whole thing. I just wanted to get it done.”

After experiencing her first marathon, she learned that the only way to prepare yourself, is to put in the mileage. There are no shortcuts when it comes to being a marathoner.

Since bringing running into her life, Amy said she’s seen dramatic improvements in her health, both her physical health and her emotional well being.

“When I first started, I probably lost 20 pounds within the first couple of months,” she said. “I haven’t had a cold or gotten sick in what feels like years. Running is one way you can take care of your body. Physically it has kept me strong and my cardiovascular system is strong, but emotionally it also has all kinds of benefits.”

If you’re curious about what it’s like to run a marathon, here’s one woman’s mile by mile breakdown of her first marathon experience:

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How a trainer helped me get fit… FINALLY

“People around me said—you can’t audition looking like that.”

When Traci got cast in the role of the ‘best friend’ at her first NYC audition, she took an honest look at herself.

“Regardless of my talent, regardless of whether I was the best fit for the role, I knew that it had something to do with, or I felt, that it had something to do with my weight,” Traci said.

“And that sort of propelled me into thinking about my weight and looking at myself realistically saying, what am I doing? Why am I here?”

Traci began working out with a trainer, who gave her the tools, taught her how to eat for weight loss and exercise properly. More than anything, Donna taught Traci to believe that what she wanted for herself was possible.

“My two-day-a-week workout turned into three, then four, then turned into me cutting back on certain foods like bread, rice and sugar,” she said. “I started eating tons of fruit and vegetables, and I noticed that I felt better. I came out of that depression-like state I had when I first went to New York. Within five months, my body was completely transformed.”

Traci had been overweight her whole life. She wasn’t used to being thin, and her body resisted every pound she lost. It took her about 7 months of commitment and discipline to shed 20 pounds.

Finally being able to experience what losing weight felt like, understand how to do it was a huge learning experience for Traci.

“I learned how to eat and how to keep challenging myself in new ways,” she said. “I learned how to express myself in new ways, both physically and emotionally.

“Working with Donna allowed me to stand in a different way, walk into a bar in a different way and order from a menu in a different way. I finally feel comfortable and confident with myself.”

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Understanding My Food Issues

Micaela could remember going to a dietitian as early as 5-years-old. “My eating really got out of control, because it was when my mom was diagnosed with Lupus. And so it was a really fearful time for me, and I found a way to sort of numb out with food.”

“I can remember my mom bringing in like, Tab and skim milk and diet anything, and things being really restrictive. I was the only child and my mom was trying to teach me how to live healthily.”

After high school Micaela found her weight beginning to become more of an issue. “When I went to college, my diet got a lot worse because I could eat whatever I wanted—I wasn’t living with my mom anymore.”

By the time she graduated from college, Micaela was 40 lbs overweight, partying heavily, smoking and eating unhealthily. At the age of 23, she couldn’t run two city blocks with her boyfriend. “I was unhealthy and was using unhealthy behaviors to avoid dealing with my feelings. At that point, I realized I was very depressed.”

Micaela used partying and unhealthy behaviors to stuff down her feelings instead of dealing with them. It wasn’t until she was able to address the depression that she was able to then deal with the eating.

“And a lot of my story is binging and not throwing up. It hasn’t been really diagnosed yet, binge eating disorder, but it’s not considered a medical condition yet, but it’s definitely an eating disorder, where you binge. Things are fine for a while and then you do crazy things where you eat everything in sight and can’t really stop.”

She was at the point where she’d made changes and started working out, but her eating was still completely out of control.

Sometimes Micaela is afraid that she’ll wake up and be the same person she was 50 pounds ago. “Because it’s so challenging, there’s this fear that I’m going to get sick of doing it and quit. But then I realize that the reason I stick to it is that I feel better. I sleep better. I have more energy than ever. And I feel good about myself. That’s my motivation to keep making healthy choices for the rest of my life.”

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How I lost 40lbs by… walking around!

Leigh struggled with her weight for all of her adult life. She tried diet shakes, counting calories, cleansing fasts… nothing worked.

Finally she realized it wasn’t her intake that mattered as much as it was her outlook.

She decided to concentrate on a lifestyle overhaul and began pairing healthy eating habits with simple exercise routines.

Knowing that big changes come by taking small steps, she first started taking her dogs for walks every day. The two labradors loved running around outside, and keeping up with them proved to be a great workout for Leigh.

Gradually fitness started becoming a priority for her and she headed to a gym to strength train.

“After the first day I could barely move,” she said. “But I just kept doing it. I lifted weights and did lunges and did free weights. I did all the things that you’re kind of intimidated to try, especially at a gym with sweaty guys everywhere, but the free weights were necessary for me to get in shape.”

When it came to cardio, Leigh also had to work her way up.

“My first experience on the treadmill I walked extremely slow, but at the time I thought it was pretty fast,” she said. “I then just bumped it up a little more every day, go a minute longer or a little faster each time.”

The rewards of taking it slow and adopting a long-term healthy lifestyle paid off in more ways than Leigh initially expected. She thought she’d be healthier, but she didn’t realize how much being fit would put her back in touch with her body. Her husband began to mark her progress by their hugs, noting that he could touch his wrists, then his elbows, when they embraced. Eventually she had to buy new clothes, shoes, and even have her ring resized.

Here are some tips that have helped Leigh transition and find a healthy balance for staying in shape.

Leigh began this journey by taking leisurely strolls with her dogs, but now, she feels no matter what path life leads her down, she’ll be able to keep up.

“My husband and I were going on a trip my mom happened to be in the the same airport at the same time, but she had about five minutes before she had to get back on the plane and she was in the other terminal,” she said. “We wanted to see each other because I wasn’t gonna see her for a few months, so I just took off running in my little sweats and tennis shoes. My husband couldn’t believe it because he didn’t think that he would ever see the day that I would just take off running. It was great to meet that way. She was really happy to see me running down the terminal.”

For more inspiration, read about how this mom of three transforms herself into a triathlete.

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How Yoga Saved My Sanity

Eka walked into a yoga studio for the first time, attempting to better understand her boss. She hoped that by learning some down dogs and what all the different warriors were, she’d at least find some common ground. After just one class, she realized she’d discovered a new way of life.

“I literally could not touch my toes,” she said. “The first class I went to I was scared out of my mind because there were all these people twisting like pretzels and scratching their heads with their toes, and I am just looking around going, ‘Okay, I can’t touch my toes.’ That is what scares a lot of people away from yoga; they think they need to do all of that and weigh 90 pounds, but you can do yoga at any stage of life.”

With every class she went to, Eka started to feel stronger and more clear-headed. She felt her posture change and realized that she was overall more confident than she had ever been in her life. Eventually she started coming to her mat more than she was going into work.

It wasn’t just being able to contort her body in new and different ways that made Eka crave yoga. By being with her breath and meditating into each pose, she discovered a way to identify and release tension in her body.

“It is the breath that is the conveyor of everything,” she said. “It is a continuous wheel of becoming aware in the present moment and how you react in the present moment. I think that is a mirror for life. The yoga mat is often seen as a mirror of life outside the studio. How you react on your mat is often how you react when you leave the studio doors.”

Eka now teaches yoga to other weary souls looking for some peace in the chaos of life. Since you probably can’t commit to a two-hour yoga session seven days a week, Eka’s offering a few minute-long poses that you can do at your desk or on your living room floor. Take a deep breath and get going.

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