Jennette Fulda's “first, full, gung-ho” effort to lose weight has had more than one happy ending.
Not only is she experiencing the best health of her life, she has published what Shape magazine calls a “touching, funny, and sincere” memoir, and she has a second book slated to hit bookstores in fall 2010.
An online diary that the 2003 IUPUI School of Informatics graduate originally kept to chronicle her journey to lose half her weight led to the first book, Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir (available at Amazon.com and elsewhere).
“It was in January 2005 when everybody was making New Year's resolutions that I decided to try to finally lose weight ... I was having some serious health problems and I realized that this was something I needed to attack,” says Fulda, who at that time weighed about 380 pounds.
Over the next two years, the Indiana native lost 190 pounds the hard way — eating sensibly and exercising.
For an added measure of accountability, the now freelance Web designer and writer shared her progress online.
“I originally kept the blog just for myself. I didn't tell anyone about it until after about eight or nine months,” she says. “After the blog became popular, a few readers suggested I should write a book, so when the opportunity arose, I took it.”
Pathway to IUPUI
Years earlier, Fulda transferred from the University of Kentucky to IUPUI in order to earn a degree in media arts and science, and a certificate in applied computer science. She chose IUPUI because Informatics was “one of the few schools in the country at that time that had a media arts program that was targeted at teaching design and also teaching the computer science aspects that were important to really merge together to be a good Web designer.”
Using skills learned under Dan Baldwin and others at IUPUI, she illustrated her weight-loss blog entries at pastaqueen.com with pictures that viewers click and drag for 360-degree, 3D photos of Fulda at 11 different weights.
The blog would eventually draw 50,000 viewers a month, including an editor of Seal Press, a division of what was then Avalon Publishing.
“She contacted me and we talked back and forth. I eventually put together a book proposal and they offered me a contract,” Fulda says.
Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir retails for about $16. The cover is a picture of Jennette standing entirely inside just one of the legs of the pants she wore when she was at her heaviest. She describes the pants as “a pair of size 28 Lane Bryant slacks that probably got stretched out to a size 30 or 32.”
The book's title “is kind of a tongue-incheek ... the thing with that title is that I couldn't necessarily say it on morning television shows. So there was always this kind of dance around the title when I was promoting the book,” she explains. Her book promotions included appearances on CBS's The Early Show, NBC's The Today Show and other TV shows, plus interviews for the Wall Street Journal, along with Glamour and Shape magazines.
In response to that entry, a reader named Alicia commented: “Oh my god! I'm at a loss for words right now ... this is me to a tee, as everyone else has said. I have tried and failed at least four or five times in the past two years. I'm now up to 190, and I'm only 5-foot-3. This past year, I didn't realize how big I was until my boyfriend bought a scale 'for himself.' I've gained 50 pounds in the past 7 years and that's just unacceptable to me. I hope your candidness and personal drive can give me the strength to succeed as well. Thank You!”
Started own company
In between writing books, Fulda continues to build the company she started in early 2009 after working as a Web designer for a downtown Indianapolis Web design firm and The Indianapolis Star newspaper.
One blog entry that continues to attract e-mail is a post about her inaccurate self-image. It describes Fulda being shocked after looking in a mirror and seeing how large she had become.
Her company, “Make My Blog Pretty,” specializes in blog web design, and serves a niche market of “stay-at-home moms willing to spend some money on making their blogs prettier,” the southside Indianapolis resident says.
Fulda believes that while reality make-over shows such as The Biggest Loser can inspire people, fans can become disappointed when they don't lose weight as quickly as people on the shows.
”It's important to stay positive and also to realize (weight loss) is a long-term thing ... It really is a lifelong thing,” Fulda says. “Set up accountability. Find a support group. Keep trying.”
To help maintain her weight loss, Fulda has run in about eight races of 5K or more, including an Indianapolis Half-Marathon.
She has, however, experienced a small setback. After maintaining her weight at 180 pounds for about a year, she developed the chronic headache that has ruled her life for the past year or so. Medications to treat the headaches caused her to gain about 30 to 35 pounds.
“It is so ironic, I am literally in the best health of my life, and I got this disease or illness that I have had to deal with,” she says.
But therein lies another happy ending: her battle against the headache is the subject of her upcoming book, which Simon & Schuster will publish in fall 2010. It's tentatively titled Chocolate, Vicodin, and Other Failed Cures for the Headache That Wouldn't Go Away. “It deals with the maze of things I had to go through to find a solution to my illness,” Fulda says.