Emotional Mama: Milk Supply + Daycare

Wellps, the high of celebrating my big 3-0 has definitely faded, as the past week has been a bit of a tough one for me. Emotionally speaking, that is. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen some of my posts about my milk supply plummeting in recent weeks. I’m not sure if it’s because as work has gotten busier I’ve been less able to breastfeed Penny during the day anymore, if it’s because I started my weight loss efforts back up, if it’s because I’ve been sick lately, or if it’s because I’m just not responding to my breastpump the way I used to — probably a combination of all of the above, actually — but my milk supply has been slowly decreasing since shortly after I returned from my Atlanta visit last month.

Penny hasn’t acted fussy or like she’s still hungry after nursing or anything, so I wasn’t really that concerned about it… until a couple weeks ago when it hit me that Penny is going to be starting daycare a couple of days a week (her first day is today! Wah!), and I need to have enough milk to send with her every day. And of course, along with my milk production slowing down, Penny’s appetite’s also been ramping up! She used to drink 3 – 4 ounces of milk at a time from the bottle, but now she’ll easily down 5 – 6.

Even her increased intake wouldn’t really have been an issue before, since pumping sessions used to net me 5 – 6 ounces of milk. But lately? It’s been a struggle to get more than 2 to 2.5 ounces. Cue me suddenly freaking out about not being able to keep up with her anymore and scrambling to get my milk supply back up.

And it’s just, you know, nursing… pumping… feeding your baby… it’s all so very emotional. I fully recognize how fortunate I’ve been to have had almost 8 strong months of breastfeeding already — not having it hurt, not having latch issues, no big production issues until now. But even with it having been on the easier side for me, I’ve still had many moments of self-doubt and mental anguish — the slightest dip in supply, the slightest amount of fussiness at the breast, and suddenly I found myself second-guessing everything. Why wouldn’t she nurse? Was she getting enough to eat? Was my milk of high-enough fat content and quality? Was she gaining enough weight? I mean, when it comes to your child’s sustenance, over-analyzation is simply second-nature.

And that kind of thinking happened before I ever even had a true supply dip that lasted longer than, like, a day, and with my 80th percentile, very healthy, little chunkster of a baby. So if it was like that before, you can imagine what it’s been like in my head the past couple of weeks.

There’s just so much emotion tied up in feeding your baby (no matter how you choose to do it!) and for me, this idea that my body is suddenly not doing what I want it to anymore has been tough. I, of course, have absolutely nothing against formula, and we have already started supplementing, but it’s important to me to try and get my supply back up if I can. Tbh, I really appreciate the convenience and ease that formula offers (just don’t appreciate the cost, lol), but my fear is that my supply will continue to decrease to the point of going away completely if I start to rely on formula too heavily. And I cherish my nursing relationship with Penny so much, I’m definitely not ready to let that go yet. So life lately for me has looked a whoooole lot like this:

Adding extra pumping sessions, trying to nurse in distraction-free environments, lots of Mother’s Milk tea, staying hydrated, taking supplements, power pumping, replacing parts on my pump, examining my flange sizes, comparing my yield from my home pump (Spectra S2) to the pump we have at the office (Medela Symphony)… phew. I mean, you name it, I’m trying it.

And hey, for what it’s worth, it seems to be paying off! I’m seeing a small increase to closer to 3 oz and even have gotten 4 ounces a couple of times now. But I’m having to pump for a much longer amount of time to get it, and it’s still not quite enough for my hungry girl… plus, as you can probably imagine, it’s been very draining both physically and emotionally. So that’s played a big part in me doing a bit of doldrum-dwelling lately. Well, that, plus the fact that I’m still fighting this furshlugginer cold… and then there’s the whole Penny-starting-daycare thing, which I’m obviously being crazy about, lol.

I know that it’s probably silly to make such a big deal out of her starting daycare. I mean, she’s almost eight months old, and she’s only going a couple of days a week (my parents and MIL each still have their day with her, and we also still have our nanny one day a week right now as we transition). Moreover, most working parents that I know have had their kids in daycare — full-time — since they were like, 12 weeks old. I know. But I can’t help it. This is still a big change for me, and you can’t deny that there is a very real difference between having your baby taken care of in your own home versus dropping her off somewhere.

 
But, that being said, I realize this is just my own baggage, and that Penny’s probably going to love it there. I was able to spend some time with her at the daycare a couple of times over the past week to help her get acclimated, and she did so great. She really loves watching the other kids and I think it’ll be really wonderful for her to have even more varied social interaction than she does now. So I try to remind myself of that, along with the fact that we looked at many daycares and chose this one for a reason. And also that I’m an insane person who literally still cries when I watch The Greatest Showman even though last night was my 706th viewing sooooo I should probably take everything I feel with a grain of salt.

ANYWAY. So that this post isn’t all me complaining (just, you know, mostly complaining), I’ll give a quick update on how my healthy living stuff (I’m hesitant to refer to it as my weight loss efforts, since that’s not really what it’s supposed to be about, but I digress) has been going. In betterish news, kind of, I’ve been making good on my endeavors to move more and clean my eating back up. I actually am back down a few pounds, although I’m officially moving weight loss back to the backburner, as even though I didn’t set out to specifically count and cut my calories, I definitely was doing so and feel that probably has been another contributing factor to my supply dip.

 
I’ve been trying to take advantage of the nice weather we’ve been having lately (as well as fight against my innate laziness) and get Penny outside and moving around more often. On Sunday I went for an awesome walk around Burke Lake with some of the wonderful mommy friends I’ve made since Penny was born. There really is nothing like being with other mamas who truly understand firsthand being obsessed with your baby, hehe.

Sadly, today is supposed to be overcast, rainy, and dreary… just like my mood (ha!) so it’s looking like I’ll be a bit of a hermit today. The good news on that front is that hopefully that just means I will be RIDONKULOUSLY CRAZY PRODUCTIVE since Penny’s going to be at daycare anyway, and I have ugh soooooo much to do. At least that should hopefully keep me nice and distracted instead of staring with baited breath at my phone for photo updates from the daycare? Hahaha, here’s to hoping, at any rate!

And just in case all of my whining throughout this post has turned you off of reading this blog ever again, here’s my argument for you to keep sticking around: just look at this picture of Penny eating eggs.

You’re welcome. TTFN, ta-ta for now!

One Pound Forward, Two Pounds Back

It’s been a few months now since I recommitted to living a healthier life once again, and you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t made too many mentions of it since. Well, there’s a pretty simple reason for that. In a turn of events that shocks absolutely no one, I’m sure, things have not gone super rosily in the healthy living department. ::shrug::

I was doing really well for quite a while, actually: logging all my food, being more mindful of my eating, and what have you. I lost around 10 pounds, which might sound like a decent amount, but while it isn’t anything to sneer at, 10 pounds really isn’t all that much when you’re my size & height. It was a good start. But you all know how it goes: maybe Penny had a bad week sleepwise, or I had a bunch of work commitments, or I went out of town, and little by little I just, I dunno, slid back into my old habits. And things just kind of… settle. I haven’t stepped on the scale in a couple of weeks, but I have a feeling I’ve started to gain back a couple of even the small amount of pounds I lost.

As I’ve mentioned before, having Penny really has changed my perception of my body and given me true appreciation for what I’ve got. So I’m being honest when I say I hadn’t been as bothered by weight the same way I used to be… until quite recently. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been extra bloated this past week, or because my skin has been freaking out on me, or just because I’m whatever pre-Penny mindset I used to have is finally starting to creep back in, but I simply haven’t been feeling very good about myself lately. I find myself groaning at photos of myself, whining to Sean, agonizing over what to wear, and just generally not feeling myself.

 

Regardless of whatever number I see on the scale, I just want to regain the feeling of being happy when I look in the mirror. I want to feel good about myself, to take photos with Penny without feeling self-conscious about how I look, and to focus on how beautiful and wonderful she is instead. I want to look into my closet without my first thought being about how I can best disguise my mid-section today. I just want to reinvigorate my confidence — mostly for my own happiness and wellbeing, but also because I don’t ever want to surround Penny with the kind of negative self-talk (or even self-thought!) that has plagued me for most of my life.

So, you know, that’s where I’m at! Now that Penny seems to have gotten a handle on sleeping all night (for this past week, at least… watch, just typing out that sentence will totally have jinxed it and tonight is gonna be terrible hahaha), it seems like a great time to focus on myself a little bit more again. So it’s back to the basics for me! I’m trying to make sure I stay super well-hydrated, move more, grocery shop, meal plan, and just be mindful about what I put into my body. I actually have been a lot better about getting a smidgen of movement going a little more often, even if it’s cleaning the house (which I think totally counts!) or taking Penny or the dogs on a quick walk around the neighborhood.

 

But my latest greatest problem is constantly waiting too long to eat, so by the time I finally get around to it I make all my food decisions out of hanger and desperation. I also don’t get to the grocery store nearly as often as I should, and so while we have been doing better with regard to not eating out or ordering in quite as much as we were before, it’s still just suuuuuch an easy fallback solution for us. Having real food around the house so I can whip up really is really key to me staying on track.

So my mom was dealing with some health issues at the beginning of this year that led her to go on an elimination diet in an attempt to suss out what’s been giving her grief. It’s been SUPER strict (and she’s just in the phase now of starting to add things back in) but it’s actually done her a lot of good — she says she has more energy, her joints don’t hurt as much, and as a kind of unintentional effect, she’s lost quite a bit of weight as well. She’s been talking to me a lot about her diet and suggested that I cut out sugar since she feels like that’s the thing that has caused her the most issues.

Based on my past history with diets and disordered eating, I don’t think it’s realistic for me to cut anything out of my diet completely, but I will admit that I’m starting to wonder if it might do me some good to cut back on sugar, simple carbs, etc. I mean, this probably sounds like a no-brainer to some of you, but eh, you know me, I gotta do everything in my own time. And since I have been a little extra indulgent in the sugar department lately (regular soda, chocolate, and lattes being specific culprits), I’m wondering if that might be contributing to my skin acting up and feeling as bloated as Jabba the Hut.

I know that I need to cut back on my dairy consumption again too… or at least to frickin’ remember to take my Lactaid since my lactose intolerance seems to have made its unfortunate return as well (it went away during my pregnancy!).

Penny’s face pretty much sums up how I feel about all that… so I’m still in the “just thinking about it” stage with regard to the sugar thing right now, haha. But I am already dialing back on the dairy, and we’ll see how all of that goes. Pasta is also often our fallback easy dinner (because, duh, pasta is delicious), and while I’m anywhere near willing to say goodbye to noodles, I do think I need to start refocusing on balance when it comes to the meals we prepare at home as well. Ugh, why is there always so much to consider! ANYWAY. The entire point of this useless post is for me to simply say: here’s to getting back to that wonderful place where I feel healthy and happy, but not deprived!

Wish me luck. Heh.

Reprioritizing My Health

Well, I’ve messed up like seven different forms by signing the wrong year on the signature line, so it really must a new year, huh? Happy 2018! If you’re on the East Coast, I hope you’re staying WARM — the temperatures have been insanely low this past week! Like, lows of 5 and 6 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrrr! At least it’s giving me a chance to show off Penny’s clutch winter wardrobe.

I used to live in Canada, so you’d think that I’d be a tough nut when it comes to below-freezing temps, but I guess my body has simply forgotten what it used to go through every winter, because I’ve been shivering a-plenty over the past few days.


Penny be like: It’s HOW cold outside?!
It’s kinda like how my body also conveniently forgot what it was to wake up every 2-3 hours at night with a crying baby, even though that was my life just a few short months ago. Oh, but DON’T WORRY. Penny has been thoughtfully reminding me of what it was like each night this week. We are definitely still in the throes of the dreaded four-month sleep regression, and with the exception of the night after she got her four-month vaccine shots (when she slept for eight glorious hours straight), every night for the past week has been a wild & crazy ride of constant night wakings. ::cry:: ::yawn::

How can one so adorable ’cause so much sleeplessness?

Honestly, the waking every few hours isn’t even the hardest part, really. Not compared to how hard it’s been the past two nights in trying to get her to go to sleep. We were in a really good rhythm of being able to put her to bed awake, pop in her pacifier, and she’d drift off all on her own. Weeeeell, last night in particular was ROUGH. I’m hoping it was just a particularly bad fluke of a night, but hot damn, I’ve never heard her scream and squeal and cry the way that she was last night as Sean tried to get her to go to sleep. I ended up having to nurse her down. It really is just like old times!

I’m tentatively hopeful that now that she’s had a few days past receiving her shots, and also since my sister and her family returned home to Georgia last week (which is sad but at least should help me get Penny back to her regular nighttime routine since I won’t be spending like 92% of my time at my parents’ house, lol), that things will start to get back to “normal.” Whatever normal is.

But then again, she is only four months old, and she is still going through Leap 4, and she is, well, a baby. So there really is no such thing as normal right now, is there? We’ve been talking about transitioning her into her own room soon-ish, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea to start anything new while she’s still regressing (or is it regressed?). Plus, I’m like, weirdly obsessed with my kid, and selfishly I still like having her close by at night… even if she is waking me up every few hours.

For a while we had been kind of successful starting her in her crib at night, and then moving her back up to our room after she woke up the first time, (ahhh, the good old days when that wouldn’t be for a good five or six hours…) but it’s been a minute since we’ve done that. So right now I’m just trying to reacquaint her with her crib for the occasional nap, and we’ll see how things go from there.

ANYWAY. I swear I did not set out to have this entire post be about my lack of sleep. I actually had a very different, and very specific topic in mind: my post-baby health & weight loss plans! Though it may be hard to believe, I didn’t always blog solely about my kid, I swear. If you followed me before I got pregnant, you might remember that once upon a memory, I used to blog quite a lot about food, healthy living, and weight loss. In fact, I started blogging all those years ago (over SEVEN years ago, in fact!) with the explicit intention of losing weight.

And lost weight, I did! With the accountability that this blog provided, and the support I received from all of you, I managed to successfully lose exactly 60 pounds, going from 246 pounds to 186 pounds. I felt good, healthy, and strong at that weight, but for some reason, had it in my head that I needed to lose just a little bit more… but didn’t. And when my weight loss kept stalling out, when I started getting complacent, and when I stopped keeping track of what I was eating and how active I was being… I slid back. And the pounds slipped back on.

I’ve tried kickstarting my weight loss again… and again… and again… with varying degrees of success in the years since. Ten pounds here, twenty there… but nothing too significant and definitely nothing lasting ever came out of it. The pounds always came back on, because I always stopped trying, and life kept happening anyway — I fell in love with a great guy, got a job that I really love, I got married, I got pregnant, and I had a baby that I love, like, an insane, insane amount. And my weight just, I dunno, stopped mattering. Which, to be fair, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I’ve spent time in the darkness of the other side where I’ve cared much too much, too.

So yeah, for the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say that I don’t really care that much about how much I weigh right now. I mean, sure, I don’t love the way I look in some photos, but generally, I’m, like, happy with my body? It’s weird to actually say that. It’s especially baffling because — spoiler alert — I’m actually at one of my highest weights ever. I’m heavier than I was 7 years ago when I first started this blog, that’s for sure. And yet, miraculously, I’m in this, like, really good headspace with regard to my body. Funny how growing an actual human being inside you changes your self-perception and body image, isn’t it?

Now, that said, the fact that I don’t actively loathe my body at this weight doesn’t mean I’, oblivious to the fact that it’s not healthy either. For the past few months, my lifestyle has become particularly unhealthy. Penny, obviously, takes up a lot of time, and less time means I’ve become accustomed to prioritizing convenience — eating out, ordering in, and drive-thrus — over health. And I hardly think I even need to mention my activity level — y’all can guess where that’s at. Aside from the daily workout I get carrying my 16 1/2 lb baby all over the house, I literally cannot remember the last time I worked out. It was before I got pregnant, I’m pretty sure. So, we’re talking about at least a year? Minimum? Yeesh.

And like, okay, I’m a new mom, right? Having given birth four months ago is, I feel, actually a pretty legitimate excuse for having a little (or, okay, a lot of) extra cushioning. Except, as you may know, I barely gained any weight during my actual pregnancy. I mean, obviously I was overweight when I started, and then I was sick for the first half of my pregnancy, and then Penny took up so much space inside me that my appetite was basically nil for the last third of it. So I waddled into the hospital at 37 weeks having gained like, 5 pounds. Lol.

I did have a secret hope that I’d lose weight from breastfeeding — and since I hadn’t really gained much “baby weight,” I was really hoping that nursing would be the easy weight loss solution I’d been searching for my whole life! But, alas, while many moms do shed the poundage when breastfeeding, I’m clearly not one of them. Nursing may burn extra calories, but it also has made me hungrier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. And between the ravenous ragebeast that is my hunger these days, and all the previously mentioned not-so-healthy lifestyle habits, the weight isn’t exactly falling off.

Alas, I packed on these pounds myself the regular way — by eating too much and moving too little. Giving birth to my daughter really had nothing to do with that part. But has everything to do with this next part.

Because that’s really the whole point, isn’t it? I need to — and want to — do this for Penelope. I want to be my healthiest self so that I don’t have to worry about being strong enough to carry her as she grows even bigger. So I can keep up with her when she starts to run and jump and play. And so she has a strong, happy, confident mom setting a good example for what it means to lead a healthy, balanced life.

So, here I am, jumping back onto the weight loss train for granted, like, the 50th time. And I know, I know, I’ve said before that “it feels different this time” or whatever. But it really DOES feel different this time. I mean, first of all, Penny, y’know, exists this time. Secondly, this was not motivated by some knee jerk reaction to seeing an unflattering photo or not being able to fit into a certain size, like some of my past attempts were. And lastly, I really am trying to set myself up for success right from the get-go by utilizing new tools and strategies to help me reach my goals.

Sean and I both love to cook, but often find ourselves uninspired in terms of what to make and what to buy at the grocery store. So we started getting Blue Apron meals to encourage us to cook more at home. And I signed up for Noom, which is a personalized weight loss coaching app that’s supposed to provide support in a way similar to programs like Weight Watchers. I’ve only been at it for a few days so far, so I’ll report more on how it’s going as time goes on (it’s subscription based, and there’s a free two-week trial period that I’m in right now.) But if you’re curious to try Noom as well, just leave a comment saying so and I can send you a link that gives you 50% off if you sign up and end up wanting to actually subscribe.

If your eyes haven’t completely rolled into the back of your head from the sheer wordcount of this post, congratulations! The tl;dr version is that I’m ready to reprioritize my health and losing some weight is a big part of that.

I have an initial goal of getting back down to 220 pounds, but am more focused on adopting healthier habits, cleaning up my eating, and increasing my activity level (slowly, however, as I’m sadly still dealing with some issues from my car accident back in November) than on a goal weight at this moment. And because I am still nursing, and limiting caloric intake can affect milk supply, I know that this may go slowly as I don’t really want to cut calories right now. Honestly, though, with how much I’ve been eating lately, simply tracking my food alone has already led to positive change. I’ve lost 4 pounds!

So here’s to 2018, to Penny, and to being our healthiest, happiest selves! Let’s do this.

The Shame & the Silence

It’s all too familiar a scenario. Days spent sitting in front of a computer, your typing fingers pretty much the only parts of your body receiving any kind of exercise. Exhaustion settles in from the mental and social battles you’ve fought as part of your job, even though physically you’ve accomplished very little. And due to that exhaustion, you’re ready to just toss something quick and easy (and bad for you) into your mouth so that you can decompress. And so your nights are spent in front of a TV, catching up on missed shows or Netflix queues, or laying back on the couch reading a book.

Unsurprisingly, the lack of movement, the diet of terrible and delicious food, the sedentary life you’ve groomed yourself into leads to the things you know they lead to. Your clothes start fitting tighter, some stop fitting altogether. You push them into the back of your closet to help you forget. You hate the photos that other people take of you. You untag yourself, you delete. You stop looking so closely at yourself in the mirror. You only concentrate on the things you still like, the things unaffected by what you’ve been doing to yourself: your eyes are still nice. You can still have fun with your hair. And hey, your shoes always fit.

Your mood shifts at the drop of the hat. Maybe it’s a reflection in a store window, a TV commercial, an accidental gaze down at your own body — whatever it is, it has the power to turn you from feeling pretty and put together to depressed and despondent.

But despite all this, the denial is still strong. You can put it out of your mind. You can ignore it. “I’m still fit,” you tell yourself, even though your heart rate shoots up from merely carrying a load of laundry upstairs. “I can still do things,” you argue, as if surviving a day at Disneyworld or being able to stand through a 3-hour event is an accomplishment. As if you’ll be 28-years-old forever.

Deep down, you know that things aren’t good. That you don’t think you look good, but that’s really not the biggest part of it. It’s that you don’t feel good. In your body or about your body. You know other people can tell. And the only reason your family isn’t saying anything is because they’ve already been down this path with you before. To their credit, it’s probably the smart thing to do. You don’t react well to criticism. You never have. You always had to do things your way.

Then, one day, after weeks and months and years of denial and disinterest and clever angles, the moment finally comes. You really have had enough. You know what this moment feels like, you’ve felt it before. You’re really ready to make a change, get back on the horse, start focusing on yourself again. You take a deep breath, and finally face what you’ve been avoiding for so very, very long: the scale.

You step on, you force yourself to open your eyes, and you look at the number on the floor in front of you.

Your shoulders fall. Your heart drops. You’ve failed.

This is me. This has been me, for longer than I like to admit. I pretty much stopped blogging about weight loss, claiming I’d moved on, that I was happy with myself as-is, no changes needed. Which, you know, I do believe in as a concept, but it never actually rang true for me. Because despite my declarations, I never really stopped thinking about my weight. I never stopped wondering, wishing, wanting. And every time I finally got my stuff together enough to actually do something about it, for some reason or another, I failed.

At first I talked about it. I talked about starting my weight loss all over again. I talked about how much harder it was and how much longer it was taking and how something just wasn’t clicking this time. I talked about wanting to lose weight for myself, and then to lose weight for my wedding, and… then I stopped talking about it. Because really, I was just saying the same things over and over again. And eventually, not talking about it meant I could pretend not to think about it. Which led me right back to the beginning.

So the next time I tried, things were worse. The number was higher. The stakes were higher.  And I was all the more ashamed. “I’ll just start on my own,” I’d think. “I’ll get back to where I was and then I’ll start blogging about it again, so they don’t know.” As if they didn’t already know.

Except I never got to that point. Because the shame led me to silence and the silence meant I wasn’t reaching out for the support that I required to succeed. That was the cycle.

I should have known better, of course. I should have known that it’s better for me to talk openly about my failings, to share my experience, and to have your support, than to keep it all to myself. I should have known that people will talk and speculate anyway, and that, I mean, hello, folks aren’t blind. I have a visible job and live my life out loud. People aren’t stupid. Hiding photos is one thing, but you can’t prevent people from being able to see you in real life.

But none of it was ever really enough to push me back into the light. Whether it was just because of my supreme laziness or the shame I felt in admitting what was going on to myself — let alone to other people, I just let things continue to worsen. And worsen they did, until I found myself at the exact point where I am now: where I only wear a fraction of my closet because the rest of it either doesn’t fit or doesn’t flatter anymore. Where I delete more pictures than not because I’m so embarrassed by the way that I look. Where I just avoid looking.

And where, when I finally did take that step onto the scale, I found myself looking at a number I’ve never seen before: 254 pounds.

Yep, almost 10 pounds higher than my previous “highest” weight.

The shame hit me pretty hard then, as you can imagine. Enough to make me want to clam up and crawl back into a hole. But I know that’s not the way to move past this. I can’t be silent anymore, and I don’t want to do this alone anymore. There’s nothing I can do about it now except move forward. I can’t turn back time. I can’t take it back. And, as I’ve learned the hard way, I can’t do this in secret. I can’t hide myself away until I’ve lost enough weight that I deem it “okay” to start sharing again. I tried. I failed. It got worse.

So here I am, singing that same old song about being ready to start again. All I can say is that it really does feel different. Or rather, it feels the same — i t feels like the first time, when everything came together in just the right way and just the right time to make me actually want to make a real change.

I admit, I’ve actually started already. Still ashamed by the number I saw, I waited until I could say I’ve already accomplished at least something before I was even brave enough to post this. I know that makes pretty much everything I just said pretty hypocritical, but hey, I’m only human. I’m down 7 pounds since that initial weigh-in, which still means that, at 247 pounds, I’ve still got a long ways to go.

But I’m doing it. No more hiding from the light. No more silence. I know many of you have been down this road with me so many times before that you probably can’t help but roll your eyes. I don’t blame you. Because I know that me saying, “It feels different this time! But also kind of the same!” is probably not as reassuring to you as it is to me. But, rest assured, I am reassured. I want this, I want health, I want to feel good, I want to look good. I want to play longer with my nieces and walk longer with my dogs and I just want to do more. Be more. Live more.

And I have nowhere to go but on.


And now, on a completely unrelated, and much less serious note, since, you know, I can only take so much austerity at a time…

Happy 12th birthday, Harry! <3

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.