living in the now

Still rambling about running. Sometimes other things.

A Q&A with Half of Jess

Meet Jess ... at 23-years-old she's sick of being fat. Not my words -- those are her words on her site, Half of Jess. As part of an effort to have more guest posts and Q&A features on my new site, Jess has agree to answer a few questions about her lifestyle-changing journey. Part of that journey includes her finishing her first half marathon this past weekend. I hope you enjoy and are inspired by her story. Q. This isn't the first time you've tried to lose weight. What lessons have you learned to know that this time is THE time in which you reach your goals?

This time, it isn't only about weight, it isn't only about how many pounds I lose. That's part of the journey, but I've realized that weight loss needs to primarily be a journey about health, both physical and mental. It is a life-long process, and I need to create habits that will be sustainable for the rest of my life, not just to shed 10 or 20 pounds. I need to find activities and interests that instill healthy thinking, such as running, swimming, and strength training. I need to eat what I love and love what I'm doing, not just do it to lose weight, because that won't stick.

I know this time is THE time I will reach my goals because I've proven to myself, time and time again, that I can do it, be it a 5K or a half marathon, be it a push-up, be it swimming 800 meters nonstop. I won't give up. I will keep pressing forward. Not to look thinner, but to live healthier and fuller.

I'm losing weight for life.

Q. You're very open about your calories and what you've eaten. Why did you decide to start doing that?

I started posting my calories to keep myself accountable. I post pictures of what I eat and what I make because I really enjoy cooking and photography, so why not combine the two! Food photography inspires and motivates me to create new dishes or think of exciting ways to tweak familiar dishes. I want to not eat diet food but real food. And by real food, it might not always be the "healthiest," but through my calorie counting and cooking, I have learned that life is about finding a good balance between "good" and "bad" foods.

I am actually starting to NOT post my daily calories, not because I am trying to hide anything and not because I'm not counting them still, but because I want to slowly ween myself from tracking everything on a daily basis. I'm trying to practice eating intuitively. I don't want to count calories for the rest of my life, but I want to be able to make healthy choices out of habit. And so the calorie posting is slowly disappearing. BUT, if I feel like I'm losing control, I know that I can always return to my daily calorie consumption posts because I know it keeps me on track and forces me to face what I eat every day.

Q. You have some great recipes on your site, including a much healthier Double Down (KFC's disaster of a sandwich). Where do you get your cooking ideas from? Is there a Half of Jess cookbook in the future?

I get my kitchen and knife skills from my mom and grandmother. I get my palette from just being adventurous and trying all sorts of interesting dishes. Most things don't disgust me and I will try everything at least once. It helps with mixing different spices, textures, and combination of vegetables and meats together. I also stalk Foodgawker religiously for ideas, but I don't use other people's recipes. I honestly believe that most things are "to taste." I tend to make foods that I've actually had from its native country, hence why I don't make a lot of South American or African dishes since I've never been to either continent. And I do probably stick to Asian cooking more since that's what I'm most familiar with. I love cooking with less oil and less unneeded fats. Through my cooking, I've learned that you don't need oil to grill a chicken nor do you need to deep-fry french fries or tortilla chips. Cooking has opened up so many doors, allowed me to realize there's so many options out there, that I never get bored with my food. The possibilities are endless!

I would LOVE to publish a cookbook some day! If somebody out there is a publisher or a skilled food photographer and would like to properly train me, I am eager to learn!

Q. I know you're planning to run the Richmond Marathon in November (the same one I'm doing!). What other running goals do you have this year?

By planning, you mean signed up for! I am excited to start training. I want to run a sub-30 5K, a 10K (since the one I planned to do was canceled), a 10-miler, a trail run, a mud run, and a full barefoot 5K. That would be SUPER fun.

Q. Lastly, for anyone just starting off on a weight-loss journey, what advice would you give them?

Never give up. The only person who can defeat you is you. Keep pressing forward because you've got so much to offer, to yourself and to the world. Don't be afraid to try new thing. Don't be held back by your weight, because you never know what new passions you might discover.

If you're interested in being a guest blogger or doing a Q&A, please contact me by filling out the form on the Contact page.

Previous guest posts * A Q&A with 265andfalling's Steve, April 2010 * Chrohn's doesn't mean can't, December 2009 * But I did it anyway, September 2009 * Are we really born to run?, August 2009