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And what do you blog about?

When I was at the BlogHer convention this year one of the first stabs people made at small talk was to ask, “What do you blog about?” The first time I was asked this I replied without hesitation, “I’m a weight-loss blogger,” but immediately realized that coming from a mouth attached to a body wearing a size small t-shirt this sounded KRAZEE. Quickly I threw in, “I’ve lost 200 pounds!” in a desperate attempt to justify my blog’s purpose, as if I was screaming, “See! I had a legitimate medical reason to lose weight! I’m not some kooky thin girl that hates her body and thinks she needs to lose 50 pounds to become the emaciated cover girl for Anorexia Annual. Okay? Me not crazy! I’ll stop yelling at you now!”

However, sticking in that rider at the end wasn’t that much better because people kind of freak out when they learn how much weight I’ve lost. After I told one girl, her eyes popped out of her head and we had to crawl around on the carpet to fetch them from under the couch. Then we had to wash them off because they were covered in cat hair and carpet lint and some weird gunk that I don’t even want to think about. It’s rather odd telling people I’ve done this unusual thing and then getting all this praise for it, especially since I don’t like to brag or boast. I’d rather not mention it unless directly asked. I also wonder, “Well, what if I hadn’t lost the weight? What would you be saying to me then?” By that point in the conversation I felt so odd having all this focus and praise centered on me that I didn’t even want to mention that I’m writing a book too because then I’d have to change my name to Braggy McBoasts-a-Lot.

After a couple of these conversations I started contemplating introducing myself as a “health and fitness” blogger since then I wouldn’t have to explain the weight loss. However, I decided ultimately that would be deceptive because the driving force behind this blog has always been weight loss. Even though I write about food and fitness, it’s ultimately about being fat and about getting not-fat. So, I stuck with the “weight-loss blogger” line, even though I felt vain and self-centered every time I mentioned it.

However, two weekends ago during my brother’s wedding and all the brunches and dinners that accompanied it, I felt a bit differently. All of my brother’s and sister-in-law’s friends are smart accomplished people. So many of them are getting PhD’s that I think there’s going to be a consonant shortage. Some of them are already doctors who poke around in people’s brains or call security to hold down the crazy mental patients. Some of them can talk about image modalities and appear as though they actually know what they are talking about. And I think one of them is even in a band. They are all very cool, interesting people, but as I was sitting at the rehearsal dinner I couldn’t help thinking, “Thank God I lost 200 pounds and got a book deal or else I’d be feeling rather inferior right now with my Bachelor’s degree from a little-known college with an odd name.” In fact, I felt really secure about myself. I didn’t have to worry about fitting in the folding chairs and I didn’t have to worry about justifying my existence or proving that I was doing something worthwhile with my life. It was really nice. I was able to just enjoy the weekend without having to constantly reevaluate the validity of my life. If this event had taken place three years ago I don’t know if I would have survived without hiding in the bathroom for periods of time long enough to bring into question the caterer’s health standards.

It made me think, maybe weight-loss is not entirely vain and self-centered after all. It’s not all about having a cute butt, though I fully support everyone’s right to a cute butt. Losing weight is a really hard thing to do and there is a great sense of accomplishment that comes from ditching the extra pounds and keeping them off. I might have shrunk, but I’ve grown as a person. I sometimes think people get too excited over what I’ve done, but it’s understandable why they do. And even though I’ve come so far, there’s still a lot of room to grow. A lot of the wedding guests are happily married or own houses, neither of which seem to be in my near future, but they might be someday. It was cool to see all the different things people were doing with their lives. There really are so many things you can be. After conquering the weight, I feel like I could conquer anything at all if I really put my mind to it. That’s the best thing about weight loss, more than the size 12 jeans or the guy at the library who called me a “pretty lass.”

So yes, I am a weight loss blogger. And I’m damn proud of it. (But I’ll try not to brag.)

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24 Comments

Mymsie • August 20, 2007 at 10:26 am

It is a TREMENDOUS accomplishment – really incredible!

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Zmama • August 20, 2007 at 11:04 am

What you’ve accomplished is inspiring. I think you’ve fully earned all brag rights. ;)

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Têtue • August 20, 2007 at 11:04 am

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you are my hero. You keep the dream alive for the fat, not as fat, and then chubby girls who still get sidetracked and ultimately discouraged. You look HAWT and you are a raging success! You deserve all the fuss people throw over you. Yay, PQ!!

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Cari • August 20, 2007 at 11:15 am

I just adore reading your posts! Your sense of humor cracks me up! I can also appreciate your vulnerabilty of wanting to hide out in the bathroom.

I am so happy for you and all you have accomplished!!! (even though I don’t know you…ha!)

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bitchwhoblogs • August 20, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Yeah You!!!

I have only lost sixty pounds- but I have to say – I am finding the best thing about it is this huge sense of “sure I can do that too”. I also have soooo much less anxiety in general. When I was heavier I felt like I had to somehow compensate for being fat – like, hey, I am fat, but I am really smart and really accomplished! Now, I am realizing that I am just more confident with what is… Anyway, I am with you there are things about weight loss far better than smaller jeans and load of flirting (which are both fun!!).

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Debbie • August 20, 2007 at 1:20 pm

I’m happy for you, what you’ve accomplished, and how you’ve gained self-confidence, Jennette. But I’m also a little sad that you thought you had to hide in the bathroom unless you lost weight and had a book deal. I think too many overweight people feel that way and don’t realize they’re worth just as much before the weight loss and book deals. If only they could see it…

Debbie, mostly it was just sad that I wasn’t doing anything with my life. It would have been great if I’d been self-confident and happy when I weighed 372 pounds, but in all honesty I wasn’t. It sucked. It was a serious medical problem that was inhibiting my life. I don’t think I necessarily needed to get a book deal to feel more secure about myself, but I was directionless and not doing much with my life. I was just getting by. So, I am happy that I am now working towards something and that I feel comfortable in my body. I don’t think I necessarily needed to fit into size 12 jeans and write a book for those things to happen, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt :) – PQ

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Jenny • August 20, 2007 at 1:33 pm

Losing weight IS about more than just the weight loss and I’m glad to know you are happy and proud of what you’ve done. It represents more than just hard work…. it represents faith in yourself and faith in being a new person.

YOU are the type of person I like to hear “brag”… so brag on!

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Kate G • August 20, 2007 at 2:08 pm

I think it is hard to separate the two things – self-confidence and weight loss. As you gain self-confidence, it helps you lose more weight and keep it off. Of course as you lose weight, you also gain more confidence. It’s hard to say which came first, the attitude change or the weight loss, but they’re definitely two parts of the process of becoming a different person. I will admit that it is uncomfortable for me when people praise my weight loss, especially when it is all they want to talk about. “You look so great, how did you do it, keep it up.” Paricularly that last one – sometimes it almost sounds like a threat – like the subtext is “you better keep it up, you don’t want to be FAT again, do you?” Usually I only get that uncomfotable when it is basically the only thing people want to talk about. They could at least ask how’s the job? Or how was your vacation? But almost everyone who comments on weight loss means to be nice and encouraging so I always try to take even awkward sounding ones as the best compliments they know how to give.

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Kel • August 20, 2007 at 2:15 pm

PQ – Where are the wedding pictures? We would love to see them!! And you are an inspiration to us that are fighting to ditch the pounds too!!

Kel, I’m waiting for the professional shots to come back. I don’t have any good full-body shots on my camera. I promise to post a pic once I get a good one! – PQ

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ivy • August 20, 2007 at 2:17 pm

Sounds like you are at a good place in life–self-acceptance.

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Sarah • August 20, 2007 at 2:21 pm

You sound like you should be in a meeting “my name is PQ and I’m a weight loss blogger, light my candle!” lol

I’m more than happy to join you in the candle lightig ceremony! “My name’s Sarah and I’m a weight loss blogger”!

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Lily • August 20, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Losing all that weight is quite an accomplishment. If I had met you at a conference, I eyes would have also been on the floor. But I know the feeling of embarrassment. In my family it is unheard of to lose weight (even the measly amount that I lost), so when I lost it everyone couldn’t believe it and couldn’t stop to talking about it.

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susan • August 20, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Hey PQ – A little off topic here but you were talking about your direction in life. I’ve been meaning to ask, what plans do you have for the blog after you publish and reach goal?

Congrats again! I know the “hide in the bathroom” feeling all to well!

susan, I have some plans but I’m still working on them. I’ll be sure to announce anything relevant on the blog. – PQ

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Emily • August 20, 2007 at 8:12 pm

Definitely be proud. I have a Master’s degree, but I think I was more proud when I lost 30 pounds. It’s a lot of work!

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origamifreak • August 20, 2007 at 8:21 pm

Um, I HAVE a PhD, and I’m going to tell you right now that losing over 100 pounds and keeping it off is harder. Because you know what? I did both in my 20s, and now I’m back losing over 100 pounds again. And coming to YOUR blog for comfort, inspiration, and laughs.

So what you’ve done IS a tremendous accomplishment, and you should be proud of it.

You go, girl!

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Melissa • August 20, 2007 at 9:26 pm

Funny story – my sister was in Indy a couple of weeks ago, and she was needing directions somewhere (I was on the internet trying to find her somewhere with free WiFi) and I said, “Hey, there’s a blogger named Pasta Queen who lives in Indy. She’s lost like 200 pounds. Maybe you’ll see her!”

To which she replied, “Did she lose it by eating only pasta?”

“No.” I said.

“Well, I think if she didn’t lose it by only eating pasta, then she shouldn’t be able to call herself the Pasta Queen.”

I then explained the “used to eat pasta” part. Of course, she was joking with the PQ misnomer. And, it doesn’t matter to me if you lost it by eating nothing but raw tree bark – you deserve to use any title you darn well please.

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Kalyn • August 20, 2007 at 10:46 pm

Great post!!

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Beth • August 21, 2007 at 12:13 am

I love reading your blog and seeing the weight come off. I’m confused about how now you say you think you have a justified exsistance equal to doctors and interesting people now that you have lost the weight. I agree you needed to lose the weight for medical reasons but not for status reasons. Not everyone gets a good start into this world and it is an amazing and rare story if you do overcome your circumstances. That’s why I read your blog. You are a rare story. I hope keeping up with the Jones is not what the moral of this story is in disguise.

Don’t forget the band member too, Beth! I sort of alluded to this in a reply to an earlier comment in this thread, but it wasn’t just that I used to be fat it was also that I wasn’t doing anything with my life. I wasn’t pursuing any goals. I was just going to work, coming home and getting by. These days I feel like I am pursuing goals and making something out of my life instead of just coming home, sitting on the couch and watching TV, which is what I used to do and is part of the reason I got so fat. The weight is part of that and it’s also other things I’m doing with my life that I felt enabled to do after I empowered myself by accomplishing the weight loss. – PQ

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BrightAngel • August 21, 2007 at 9:42 am

You are in the right place.

I can tell you that:

I have my doctorate JD, my license to practice law in California, along with a Family Law Specialization certification. For 25 years I’ve been working in my successful solo family law practice. I own my own home, car etc. I have a successful 18 year (2nd) marriage, and I’ve raised two children to become adults.

None of that has been as difficult or as personally fulfilling as losing and maintaining my weight.

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G.G. • August 21, 2007 at 11:05 am

I think that what PQ done is absolutely wonderful, and anyone who has lost weight and kept it off (without risking their health) deserves kudos, and oh god, do I know how hard is it–but it freaks me out when I read educated women somehow putting weight loss on the same level of comparison as academic or professional achievement. I know PQ wasn’t headed in that direction with her post, and I don’t think the women here who’ve made those comparisons really mean to devalue those accomplishments–it just freaks me out to see them lined up, side by side, as equal things. And I don’t mean to downplay the act of losing weight by any means, but what a sad commentary on our culture.

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PastaQueen • August 21, 2007 at 12:52 pm

I feel the need to clarify something about my post. My intent was not to compare the professional and personal accomplishments of all the wedding guests so we could rank everyone on a scale and determine who is better than everyone else. My point was that it’s nice to simply have accomplishments. It’s nice to be doing something with your life, be it losing a lot of weight, getting a PhD or, I dunno, opening your own salt water taffy factory on the boardwalk.

It doesn’t really matter *what* you’re doing, just that when you are working toward a goal it feels really good. The value or worth of these accomplishments is subjective. No one thing is necessarily better or worse or harder or easier than the other, since they could be harder or easier for one person to do than another. It’s like comparing apples and orangutans.

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Kate • August 21, 2007 at 1:01 pm

You and your phat sense of humour inspire me. Thank you for not losing your sense of fun as you lost the tickle surface.

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origamifreak • August 21, 2007 at 1:03 pm

I’m sorry if my comment freaked you out, G.G; as I see it, any endeavor can be measured according to any scale of choice. It doesn’t mean they’re the same thing, just that they can be compared in some way.

As far as my own personal size management, in terms of difficulty and amount of effort it has been harder to achieve than my PhD was. Maybe that just means I am a super-intelligent genius (which I doubt), or maybe it means that I have less innate interest in my looks (which is more likely). Either way, what I can say is that one has been harder to do than the other. For me.

I find your viewpoint interesting. Would you consider athletic achievements comparable to weight loss? (Getting to the summit of Everest, for example, or completing the Iditarod?) For me, weight management is an endeavor more similar to athletic training than academics. (I used to ride in bike centuries, and it required controlling nutrition and activity.)

Just curious…

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G.G. • August 21, 2007 at 2:00 pm

No need to apologize to me, origamifreak, (ironically or not) and I hope my email didn’t indicate that I was offended by what you said. And of course, anything related to comparisons and personal achievement, is, personal and relative.

It’s just that “being thin” is in our society is such a holy grail, such a loaded concept of a state of being, that–to ME–it gets blown out of proportion to the other things that our selves consist of.

I could say a lot more on this subject, but I’m afraid I’m already highjacking this post, and I don’t want to do that.

I can’t really say that sustained weight loss and completing a particular athletic achievement like climbing Mt Everest would be the same thing to me. One represents a complete lifestyle choice that has to be maintained, one has a end point and results in an achievement that can’t be taken away. There is no “finish line” for being healthy. Once you’ve climed a mountain, you’ve climbed it. Maybe it’s the difference (for me) between someone having a successful career as a professional writer and that same person writing a National Book Award-winning novel.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog at JennetteFulda.com.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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