Hi! My name is Gretchen, and I blog about losing weight, getting healthy, and spoiling my two miniature schnauzers over at Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! The truly amazing Anne P. asked me to share with you how I’ve managed to lose 50 pounds and turn around a previously toxic relationship with food, and I am so thrilled and honored to be doing so.
Like many people who have carried around more than their fair share of weight, I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t trying to lose it. A seasoned dieter, I’ve run the gamut of trend, fad, and crash diets, only to have any pounds I actually lost return with a vengeance. While I was in college, my eating started to develop in a seriously disordered fashion — eating alone, going on late night fast food binges, and experiencing very real depression and self-loathing. My highest weight as I know it was 246 pounds, which I weighed myself at on August 9th, 2010. It could easily have been higher at one point or another, too. I was petrified of the scale, so I wouldn’t know.
I didn’t really have a breakthrough moment — you know, when you see a particularly unflattering photograph or have someone tell you that you really need to get your health on track. I’ve had plenty of both of those happen in the past, and they never motivated me to really change a thing. I just finally stepped on the scale one day, and suddenly I couldn’t deny that even at 5’9" my weight was far, far too high. I decided then and there (in tears, of course!) that I was going to go on my final diet. I was going to lose weight and do it "the right way." I started my blog solely as a way of keeping myself accountable. I had started and stopped so many diets in the past without ever telling anyone, I figured that if I told as many people as possible (including the whole wide web!) I wouldn’t be able to slink out of it so easily. And hey — guess I was right!
I started by counting calories. First, I figured out how many calories I was consuming (hint: it was A LOT) as well as how many calories my body naturally was able to burn (my BMR). Based on what I found out about my body’s needs, I slashed my daily caloric intake to around 1500 calories a day. I started eating breakfast, ate snacks in between meals, and tried to start exercising more regularly (and I’m still working on that last part!). And that was it. I had heard it a thousand times, read about it a thousand more, and yet I had been running away from this exact method for most of my life! At the beginning of my weight loss journey, the number of calories I was consuming was the be-all and end-all of my diet. I was stocking up on Lean Cuisines and other frozen diet foods, diet sodas, and 100-calorie snack packs to make calculating each day’s caloric intake easier. And it worked, to an extent. I was losing weight much more rapidly than I thought I ever could! But I wasn’t paying attention to the actual ingredients of what I was eating, and I still wasn’t feeling too great. My body was getting a little smaller, but I still had digestive issues (gross, haha), trouble sleeping, and emotionally wasn’t feeling very good about myself. So I decided I needed to kick it up a notch.
I started embracing a more nutritious, whole foods-based diet instead of eating so much processed junk. Turns out it’s pretty easy to count your calories when you’re frequently cooking for yourself! While I’m currently following a vegan diet for Lent, my norm is a diet based on the principles of (mostly) clean eating – whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole grain breads and pastas), lean proteins (fish, beans, tofu, poultry), tons of fruits and veggies, and healthy fats (avocado is my faaaaav)! No more fat-free, uber-processed crap for me! I try to stick to foods that only have ingredients I can pronounce. Changing my lifestyle to include REAL food has enabled me to continue to lose weight, and as a doubleplusbonus I feel full of energy and am, well, happy! Win-win-win.
My journey has taken me farther than I honestly ever thought I’d be able to go. When I started the blog, I wasn’t 100% sure it wouldn’t just end up being another failed attempt, only this time everyone would know about it! But here we are, almost 9 months later, and both the blog and I are still going strong. I’ve gone from an almost-250 pound total couch potato to a 195 pound 5K completionist (twice!), from a veeeery tight size 18 to a size 12 (as well as XXL to L!), and from a depressed, disordered eating girl to a happy, healthy sort-of-almost-grown-up.
I know that I’m not at my goal weight quite yet, but I also know that I really can get there this time. I still struggle sometimes with my old habits creeping back up, and incorporating regular exercise into my routine is still something I’m working on. But I also know that thanks to the amazing community I’ve discovered through blogging, as well as the support of my friends, family, and readers, this time I really am going to get’r done.
50 pounds ago, I wasn’t living my life. I was sleepwalking through it. And now? I can honestly say that I’m in a better place with my health, my relationships, and myself than I ever have been! I have an even deeper love of food, and I stay motivated by amazing healthy living blogs like Anne’s to inspire new recipes and encourage me to get off my butt more. But don’t worry — my new lifestyle is NOT about deprivation in the slightest. There’s always room to indulge a little… hehe.
If you’re thinking about starting your own weight loss journey, I encourage you to check out my Weight Loss 101 blog series. You’ll find resources and the specific steps that I took to become a healthier me. I also invite you to contact me with any questions you might have, about my journey or your own, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You gotta believe that if I can do it, anyone can do it.