Back on the Wagon

For those of you who may have been unaquainted with this blog in its earlier inception, I began my life on the interwebs as a weight loss blogger. My blog was named “Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!” was completely, utterly, 100% meant to help me lose weight.

I began this blog in August 2010 at 246 pounds, and through diligent(ish) calorie counting, forcing myself to work out, and the support gained from readers just like you, whittled my way down to a glorious 186 pounds by October 2011. Sixty pounds gone in just over a year! Sometimes I don’t really think I’d believe it were it not for the photographic evidence that I used to look like this:

God, I miss those arms.

Anyway. Through the course of the years that followed my initial weight loss, I found out a lot about myself. I found out how to be kinder to myself, how to love myself better, and how to start going after what I want in life, but primarily, I found out that weight loss is really hard for me to maintain. I experienced first-hand the reality of how easy it is to gain it back. And ultimately, I found myself right back where I started, more or less.

It wasn’t a linear process, re-gaining my weight. It’s not like I just suddenly hit 186 pounds and immediately started sliding backwards. It happened in small increments. I maintained my complete sixty pound weight loss for a while… until I didn’t. It happened slowly and completely unintentionally. It seemed so innocuous at first. You know, just a few pounds gained here, a couple pounds lost there. Up and down, back and forth. It all balanced out.

But then… a few more were gained, but not lost. And so it went, until one day, the clothes that I was once so excited to wear didn’t fit anymore. And I found myself untagging myself from more and more photos on Facebook. And I was reaching for cardigans to cover up even when it was 90 degrees out.

The weight, well, it all came back.

So here I am, five years later and pretty much back where I started. Well, when it comes to the number on the scale, that is. Life-wise, I’m in a much, much better place, and I can chalk it up to these three major differences:

First, I am happy. I mean, man, I’m so happy. I’m engaged to a great guy. I have literally THE best job in the entire world. I have two awesome pups, a wonderful family (which has just grown by one more — my sister had her second baby last week!), and generally, life is pretty sweet. Five years ago, I was depressed, in a not-so-great relationship (hindsight really is 20/20), had a boring, unfulfilling job, and felt generally aimless.

Secondly, I really do like myself a lot more. I know, most of that can probably be chalked up to being a 27-year-old versus a 23-year-old (aaaand now I feel old), but I really did go through a nice, big, cliche journey of self-acceptance. Sure, I still have a lot of annoying qualities, but I dunno, I guess I’m growing on myself.

In fact, the whole reason for rebranding this blog came out of this idea of me liking myself better. Because I didn’t want to be known as the girl always trying to lose weight. I just wanted to be me, and being me meant being able to love myself at any weight. And I truly believe I’ve taken a lot of strides in making that happen. But just because I love myself regardless of how I look, doesn’t mean I can’t want to change the way I look, right?

The third difference is one of those love-hate things. Because I love that I can say that my weight gain this time around isn’t the result of binge eating and a toxic relationship with food. It has been very liberating for me to live my life without the shackles of disordered eating. But, I also kind of hate that I don’t have that as an excuse this time. I know that probably sounds super messed up, but it’s just so much less embarassing to say “I got to 246 pounds because I had a binge eating disorder,” than “I got to 242 pounds because donuts are pretty much the perfect food and also I am lazy as fuck.”

I mean, it probably doesn’t help that the aforementioned most perfect job ever has me like

Food and Drank

all the freaking time. But, still, I know, it’s not an excuse.

Anyway, I think you can all pretty clearly see where this is all heading (in case the title wasn’t a dead giveaway, hahaha.) I am actively trying to lose weight… again. I don’t think that the fact that this is happening is a huge surprise to most of you — I made it pretty clear when I rebranded this blog that I probably would get to a point where I wanted to lose weight again. So the question instead is: why now?

And well, I’ll be honest. It’d be pretty easy to chalk me up as another wedding cliche — a bride-to-be trying to lose weight for her big day — because that is definitely a contributing factor. I can’t say that the fact that I’m getting married in five months has absolutely nothing to do with it. I mean, I’m only human! Of course I want to look and feel as beautiful as possible on my wedding day. BUT. That really, honestly, truly is only part of the reason.

I mean, let’s face facts. You can’t say that being at the weight that I am is healthy, because it’s not. I definitely don’t feel healthy. And I can’t say that I look good at this weight, because I don’t think that I do (and believe me, I think very highly of myself, so it must really mean something when I say that, hahahaha.) But while I’ve been at this weight for a while now, just like the first time around, it’s just taken me a while to get to the point where I actively want to do something about it.

So you’ll probably see me throw around the term “wedding diet” a lot in coming months, partially because it’s a convenient way of hashtagging the overabundance of food photos that tend to grace my Instagram, and partially because I am, indeed, trying to lose weight before my wedding. But I’m also going to try to continue losing weight after my wedding, until I get to a weight that I feel good at again (I’m not going to put a number to that just yet). And generally, I do hope that this time I’ll figure out the magic formula that allows me to keep it off for the long term.

The thing is, weight loss wasn’t exactly easy the first time around, but it wasn’t really that hard. I mean, hell, I lost sixty pounds in like, what, sixteen months? That’s really not a lot of time for a pretty significant amount of weight. This time around, however, it has been legitimately difficult. It’s like my body doesn’t want to let go of the weight again. “C’mon,” it’s saying, “we already did this once, that’s all you get!”

So despite going through the same process — counting calories, trying to clean up my diet, increasing my activity — the scale barely seems to budge. I’ve lost about four pounds since restarting my “weight loss journey” (barf at that phrase, but whatevs, it’s apt) but each ounce feels like pulling teeth, especially because I can’t help but compare it to the first time around. I lost something like eleven pounds the FIRST WEEK back then, and here it’s taking me weeks and weeks to see any progress at all.

I really hope that my decision to lose weight again doesn’t undermine what I’ve said in the past about body positivity, body-acceptance, and self-love, because I still truly believe in all of that. I still think that there’s far too much societal pressure for women to conform to one standard of beauty, and I don’t want to propagate the idea that you have to be thin(ner) to be worthy.

But, that being said, if I wanna lose a little weight, I think I should be free to do so, and that’s exactly what I’m attempting to do. Again.

Here we go.

35 Comments

  1. LOVE YOU!!! I just moved and weighed myself this morning and am down 4 lbs, and I know its because I’m living at my grandparents and am not eating the junky foods I would eat if left to my own devices. But hopefully being here will instill some good habits that I can continue when I move to my own space. Also, my new job is a desk job yet most people seem pretty fit, so hopefully they’ll be a good example. I would encourage you to get measured, as you might see differences there that aren’t on the scale. Or, just take plenty of selfies. In the last couple years as my body has held at a weight that is about 30 lbs heavier than it needs to be, I can tell based on my face how I’m doing in the healthy eating department. Cheers! (With a nice big glass of water of course).

  2. Katie C.says:

    Back in college, I lost 50 pounds, mostly in a healthy way (eating less! Exercising more! No alcohol!) and some of it in an unhealthy way (I remember drinking a lot of Red Bull and eating a lot of soup and salad the last few months of senior year). I’ve gained ~35 pounds back , and I’m not mad about it, my life is significantly better than it was back then, but I’m afraid of gaining it all back! I’ve been a pretty consistent exerciser for the best few years, so I think the blame sits squarely with food, unfortunately. I totally feel you on how much harder it is losing weight *this time around*. Looking back, I feel like it was totally effortless, and maybe it was because uh, 22 year old metabolism, but if I think back to being hungry and wanting to eat pizza, it was hard work, just like it is now.
    I’m wishing you lots of luck!

  3. Good luck! I’m right there with you. I just started Kelsey Byers 12 Weeks to Skinny Jeans challenge this week, and am really optimistic (especially since for once, my family is behind me on it!).
    I lost weight pretty easily in 2004, and again in 2010, but ever since then it’s been the WORST struggle ever. I hate it so much. Hope you see the success you want to see!

  4. I lost 15lbs for my wedding in 2012, putting me at 160. Then, I got divorced and climbed back up to 190. Then, I got happy again, and went back down to 150. All of this to say that it’s okay to live life, and in my case eat emotions. Sometimes you just have to stop and focus on other things. As long as you are happy where you are and change when you aren’t, that’s all that matters. Glad to see you taking care of yourself wholly (not just weight loss) and I know you’ll have a fantastic wedding!

  5. Baileysays:

    I’m right there with you. I worked so hard getting my food triggers and sugar demons under control last year and although it was very small steps I was loosing weight very slowly, but was heading in the right direction and I felt GREAT. Well, the new year brought a lot of new challenges and all the bad habits came right back and I’m back up to the weight I was before all that hard work. And Sunday afternoon I finally decided enough was enough (AGAIN). I’m so sick of this roller coast ride. I just want to get to a comfortable place and maintain…and I agree with you, I want to like the random photos of me. Not just the ones I am perfectly placed.
    But anyways, you got it. You did it before.

  6. Ugh, we are in the same boat. Minus the me getting married part. I just feel like losing weight the 2nd time around is JUST SO HARD. Plus I love eating.

  7. I highly recommend checking out Sarah Jenks’s blog called live more, weigh less. And a book called the slow down diet. Cannot recommend enough.

  8. Props to you for being honest and open about all of this. If anyone tries to make you feel bad or like it’s hypocritical to both accept yourself but still want to change yourself, forget them! I wholeheartedly believe that the path to genuine change is fueled by accepting ourselves as we are. If we’re running away from something we don’t want to be because we can’t accept ourselves as we are, we’re making changes out of fear. When you accept yourself as being awesome first, but realize you could change things to be even more awesome, the change come from a place of love, not fear. YOU DO YOU, GIRL!
    Also, have you thought about re-framing your goals somewhat? When weight loss is the primary goal, it can put us on a rollercoaster of, “Waaah, I didn’t do good this week!” and “Yes, I’m amazing because I lost weight!” What about instead focusing on the habits that you know will lead to weight loss? You could set goals like work out at least 4 times per week, only eat one really good dessert per week, stick to only one drink per day, eat all breakfasts and lunches at home, etc.? That way you’ll feel proud of yourself and inspired by making good decisions regardless of if the scale moves, and you’ll still be working towards your ultimately goal, only you’ll be focusing on the present instead of the future?

  9. Eddosays:

    I honestly think the best way to go about this is with a lifestyle change. If you view it in any sort of ‘project’ capacity, it will have a finite start and finish. I think that’s part of what happened for you the first time – you started a project, worked really hard, completed it (good for you, you did awesome!!!), but then it was over, so the work undid itself when the effort ceased. If you can find a way to change your day to day in such a way where it becomes something that won’t end at a predetermined point (permanent changes to diet, like less refined sugar and wheat? incorporating aerobic activity into a daily routine in a way that is necessitated? etc.), then it won’t come back.

    Love you regardless Gretcho!

    Eddo

  10. You are gonna kill it. 🙂 Also, who cares if you switch topics again. It’s your blog; its your journey. Hopefully you don’t have a bunch of haters, and if you do, don’t spend your energy on them. You’ve got better things to do!

  11. You can be body positive and want to lose weight at the same time. There isn’t any rule that says you can’t. It bothers me when people on the internet get their panties in a bunch when someone who is all for body positivity decides they want to lose weight. You do you, girl. Do what makes you feel good. I hope you find what works for you this go around.

  12. I’m so proud of you for this post. It’s wonderfully written, heartfelt and just so exciting to read! I’m here to support you on the journey!

  13. I am right there with you — trying to lose weight for myself, for what makes me feel good, and not because I don’t believe in body positivity or that women should weigh what they want to weigh. It feels like these should be at odds with each other, but I’m not sure why that has to be. We’re talking about doing what makes us happy with ourselves, not doing something because society says we have to. So I say, find that happy, healthy spot for you, and good luck while you’re at it!

  14. Holy schneike… it’s been five years? Five years since I started reading your blog (it was really young when I started internet following you). Since I went “Hey, that chick thinks a LOT like me. I think I like her.”

    Every bit of your journey has been very similar to mine. And I’m in the exact same place your are. I stepped on the scale the other day and I was terrifyingly close to the weight I was when I decided to join Weight Watchers and actually seriously lose weight my sophomore year of college. But we’ve both done the same growing – finding our happy place, getting out of bad relationships, and becoming more of who we actually are, rather than who the people around us think we should be.

    Now if only I had a wedding to go with mine… I kid, I kid!

    You can want to lose weight without sacrificing your love of who you are. Because who you are is not what you weigh, neither high on the scale nor low. But loving who you are means taking the best care of the vessel you reside in. And let’s be honest, we’ve got some super bangin’ personalities, so our vessels should match!

    All the love, dearest!

  15. Ashley B Csays:

    Man, I’m so glad you’re doing this (for me). I started following your blog as thin-spiration in 2010 when I, too, was doing the weightless journey thing. I’d lost 30 pounds in 6 months. And now stuck in rocky relationships, an unfulfilling job and a difficult transition to postpartum life…I’ve gained about 50 pounds. I have worked diligently on accepting myself at any size for the past decade, but I just don’t feel good now, you know? My body aches from inactivity, I’m not sleeping well, and I always feel like I’m in a funky mood. I’m ready to kick this, but starting is sooo hard. Thank you for sharing your healthy start with us again! It’s just what I need in my life.

  16. Maddiesays:

    You’re totally not alone! (not that you thought you were ever really alone with the interwebs, but you know what I mean). I lost A LOT of weight about 4 years ago and it’s slowly, but surely all come back. I have just started to feel like the time is now, so I’m glad to see someone else who will be working on it. It’s definitely proving to be much harder this time, but I’ll be following and working hard too!

  17. katiesays:

    First of all, I love your blog. Like, I love everything about it! And second, I totally 100% relate to what you’re saying. I lost 107 lbs five years ago and through fertility treatment, four pregnancies, and two babies, I weigh about 15lbs less than I did at my highest weight. It’s hard to lose weight, but for me, it’s harder to be unhappy with where I’m at physically. It’s easy to SAY miracle of miracles my body made babies!! But its a completely different thing to deep down accept and love my body as it is. I love what your commenter said above about reframing goals…I’m going to try that! Best of luck to you, I look forward to reading about it 🙂

  18. I think all of us can totally relate to you about having a yoyo weight loss journey. We all lose our weight once only to gain it back some other time. Even I am guilty of this. But the most important thing is that you’re not giving up, we’re not giving up. We can do this and we can lose weight, and this time, we will managed to keep the weight off for lifetime! It’s because just like you, we now have all the important things and people in our life and we are now motivated to live a healthier lifestyle for them. We wanted to spend the rest of our life happy and healthy with them <3

  19. I am fighting the same battle and sharing my tips https://fitnessfreakami.wordpress.com/
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  20. Congrats on three things: Your engagement (and wedding soon), for getting back on track again and for being amazing! 60lbs seems like a great challenge to you now but just believe in yourself, understand and embrace your journey, I’m sure your good progress is just waiting in line. Be with active people most of the time too, it’ll help you to keep it off long term! 🙂

  21. Nadiasays:

    Congratulations, Gretchen! A happy girl is a beautiful girl 😀
    I actually exercise to keep myself happy – it really helps with my anxiety! http://www.ufcgym.com has amazing kickboxing classes that I love and let me blow off steam. Best of luck to you! xxx

  22. Gretch-I feel you. I honestly stopped my own lifetstyle/healthy living blogging and reading, including you around the time I got into a relationship. Fast forward 2 years and I am 40 lbs heavier then when I started. I am getting back into the gym and started healthier eating but its such a struggle. I am glad I refound you and look forward to hearing what is new and hopefully sharing some of my successes.

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