Adios, Playa Mujeres! (Weigh-in #4)

I’m back from Mexico, and, miraculously, I managed to get a significant (for me) tan and an insignificant (also for me) number of mosquito bites. Huzzah!

As I think I mentioned, Sean and I headed to Playa Mujeres this past weekend to celebrate two of my wonderful friends getting married. This was my first destination wedding, and it was a ton of fun! It also helped that my brother and sister-in-law were the wedding photographers, so it was like a family vacation wrapped up in a friend vacation wrapped up in a wedding celebration. So, pretty much all of my favorite things combination!

My friendship journey with Kim and Jon has been such a testament to how many wonderful changes came about from me changing careers and starting to work at Yelp. See, I met Kim at one of my very first Yelp events. You know that feeling of just straight-up clicking with someone when you first meet them? Well, that was how it was. Kim has such a warm, friendly, and welcoming spirit, I knew I wanted to be friends IRL right away. And when I met Jon a few weeks later, it was the same thing. They’re such fantastic people, both individually and together, and it was such a delight to get to see these two lovebirds tie the knot.

Speaking of tying the knot, attending this wedding also did great things for my own post-wedding sanity. It showed me that whether you’re planning a destination wedding in Mexico or a winter wedding in Alexandria, Mother Nature’s gonna show up to crap all over you and things are going to go wrong. So while I feel for Kimmy that it poured cats and dogs on her wedding day, it really did provide me with a little bit of peace with regard to my own blizzard wedding, hahaha.

Either way, we still had a great time celebrating with the bride and groom. This was the first destination wedding that I’ve ever attended, and I gotta say, I definitely get the appeal. In addition to the vacation life that attending a destination wedding pretty much comes with, it was also just really nice to be able to meet and get to know so many of the wedding guests before the big day!

The resort that we stayed at (Finest Playa Mujeres) probably deserves an entire post to describe my, well, complicated feelings towards it, and I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on all-inclusive resorts after this (my first) experience. The short version of the story is that the resort was beautiful and very clean and the staff was like 95% wonderful, but the food was legitimately terrible and Taylor and I both came home to find out that staff stole money from our wallets in our rooms. But! Overall we still had a good time celebrating with friends (and making new ones!) and genuinely could not be more thrilled for the new Mr. & Mrs. 🙂

I guess the good thing about the food being awful is that, despite being at an all-inclusive (and, therefore, all-you-can-eat) resort, I barely gained weight while being away! So, I’m still pretty much sitting at my pre-Savannah weight, but here’s my official post-vacation weigh-in for those of you who are keeping track.

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 241.8 lbs
Current Weight: 241.9
Difference: +.1 lbs
Total Weight Lost: 12.3 lbs

Between all the traveling and vacationing and ignoring MyFitnessPal over the past few weeks, I’m honestly not feeling discouraged right now. In the past, a few weeks of non-losses like this would have likely sent me into a shame spiral about not doing enough, not doing it fast enough, etc. But if anything, it’s actually been encouraging that all I’m dealing with is a couple of ounces here or there (which, frankly, if it’s less than half a pound, I’m barely counting it anyway.) Either way, now that I’ve returned home, I’ll be getting back into a regular schedule and be able to start whittling myself down again. Onward!

Toothy Wisdom (Weigh-in Wednesday #2)

So my supposedly-innocuous dental appointment yesterday turned out to be even dreadful than I was expecting (and let’s be honest, going to the dentist for a filling is always something I dread.) Turns out, one of my cavities was kind of adjacent to an old filling, and when the old filling was removed, it revealed a horror show of toothy proportions underneath.

Turns out my poor ol’ tooth was suffering, and suffering bad, but the extent of the damage didn’t even show up on the x-ray because of how it was situated. So when my dentist opened up my tooth (already a weird image to wrap your head around, I know), it revealed a much larger cavity with decay and whatnot. (Gross, I know, sorry). So in order to remove it all, my dentist had to remove additional tooth, leaving me with less than two-thirds of the tooth I once had. Fare the well, enamel, I hardly knew yee.

Anyway, when that much tooth has been removed, you can put a regular filling in but they’re not really strong enough to be maintained in that quantity for a long period of time. Enter: me getting a (partial) crown. For those of you who don’t know, a crown (also known as a cap), is basically a heavy-duty hat for my tooth. I’ve got a temporary one in for now while they manufacture the real-deal at the lab, and they’re supposed to last anywhere from 7 to 40 years.

Sigh. Yep, I’ve now got a partially fake tooth in the upper right side of my mouth, and I basically feel like this:

Melisandre and I are going to start an old-crones-masquerading-as-young-people club.

I’m trying to see the silver lining here, which is that A) I still have (most of) my tooth, and B) it really puts the little things (like regular ol’ boring fillings) into perspective, haha. Like I said, this was all really unexpected, even to my dentist, who couldn’t see what was going on until he literally unearthed the issue from inside my tooth. So, I guess this just another example of how you really never can tell what’s going on under the surface (ooh, such deep, much wisdom.)

And speaking of things going on under the surface, let’s get on with the main attraction, shall we:

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 244.6 lbs
Current Weight: 241.6
Difference:  3 lbs

See, now that’s a weight loss amount that I don’t feel the need to justify (as opposed to last week’s dramatic drop-off, which I felt needed to be explained away as water weight, etc.) Almost back out of the 240s, which is going to feel awesome, and despite yet another week of events and dinners eaten out and tooth-pain driven Taco Bell pitstops, I’m feeling pretty good right now!

Tomorrow is going to be a long day of various awesomeness, so I’m hoping my mouth will be feeling back to normal soon. My tooth itself doesn’t really hurt (just a bit sensitive to cold), but my jaw was KILLING me once the numbing wore off yesterday — I’m guestting from being propped open for so long and, you know, all the drilling. (Hence the Hello Kitty ice pack pictured above.) My face still feels a little sore, but I’ve got some great things on the docket for tomorrow and want to be back at 100% — lunch with my coworkers, then a shift volunteering with Martha’s Table at an elementary school in SE DC, and then hitting up the PENTATONIX concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion! Whoop whoop!

So, with all that said: we out.

Weigh-in Wednesday #1 (2.0)

Man, am I feeling the deja vu vibes today. It may have been a while since I was truly (madly, deeply) on my weight loss kick, but I certainly never forgot the thrill and terror of stepping back onto the scale. Especially because my starting baseline was higher this time… womp womp.

And yes, of course I know that the scale is just one measure of health, and arguably not the best one, either. But there’s no denying that it’s still a good way to keep a general idea of how things are going, especially when starting out… and especially at my current weight. I grappled a little bit with the idea of publishing my weigh-ins weekly this time, since I do realize that it’s about the downward trend of my weight loss over time, not necessarily the individual weigh-ins. I admit that I used to get really caught up in the specific numbers before, and my mood became very dependent on what I saw each Wednesday. Down a pound, I’d be ecstatic. Up, even just a few ounces, despondent. That sort of thing. Not to mention just the sheer embarrassment of having to admit exactly how much I weigh to anyone who reads here.

But, that being said, I’ve always been a huge proponent of honesty and transparency when it comes to weight loss in general, and especially when it comes to my weight loss. This is probably a whole post for another time, but I firmly believe we as a society need to destigmatize the actual numbers, and educate about what it really means to be a “healthy weight.” Since there are still an alarming number of people who have no real concept what a healthy weight is, and instead issue blanket statements about how people who weigh over 200 pounds are the most disgusting possible type of human. But I digress.

I mean, let’s be real, it was when I stopped being transparent and talking about it that I started to have real issues with my weight again, so what does that tell me? And recording my successes and failures each step of the way through this journey is such an integral part of keeping me accountable and motivated in what I’m doing. So I’m sticking with my weight loss roots, for the time being at least, and reinstating “official” weigh-ins.

One of my goals this time around, however, is to keep a better perspective about it. My weight fluctuates daily (and by a lot — I can be up or down 3+ pounds within a single day), and even though the whole point of picking a specific day and time is so there is relative consistency, I still want to be sensible about it.

Aaaaanyway, all this to say, I did weigh myself this morning and here are the official stats:

Starting Weight: 254.2 lbs
Current Weight: 244.6 lbs
Difference:  9.6 lbs

So! Down 9.6 pounds in week 1… with a pretty big caveat, given that I’m pretty positive that I didn’t really lose 10 actual pounds in 8 days. We’re talking water weight, the kind of weight that sheds purely from cleaning up your diet and cutting out a lot of the stuff that our bodies end up carrying around for the whole week.

This is almost exactly what happened during Round 1 (which is how I will refer to my 2010 weight loss heretofore) — I dropped 10 pounds in the first week! So you can see where the deja vu comes in. Even in trying to keep a level head about it, I won’t lie and say it’s not encouraging to see (well, encouraging and discouraging, since all this does is put me back at the same weight I was at the very beginning of Round 1… but I’m still working through those complicated feelings, as you know.)

I just have to be cognizant of the fact that this is obviously not the norm. I am not a contestant on the Biggest Loser who is working out 8 hours a day to drop 14 pounds every week. (Sidenote: have you guys read this super interesting NY Times article about Season 8’s Biggest Loser contestants? It’s a really interesting study about the long-term effects of extreme weight loss on metabolism.) I am, however, an overweight individual aiming to shed pounds at a reasonable clip through good old-fashioned “diet” and exercise. (I have a lot of issues with the word “diet” so that’s why it gets the quotation-treatment-—another post for another time, perhaps—but you get the general gist of what I’m laying down, right?)

Anyway, so here we are! We kick off Round 2 (I know, I know, it’s really like Round 283948, but we’re simplifying things here, haha), Week 2 today! As my old motto says: onward… and downward!

Gretchen vs. The Need to Meal Plan

So, I work for Yelp. I’m the Northern Virginia Community Manager, and, yes, it’s the raddest, most bomb-diggity job ever. I get paid to do things like write, put together fun events that make me feel uber-popular, and love on local businesses — all things I do on the reg anyway. Plus, I work from home, have amazing local coworkers, and have access to all the free mints and chapstick a girl could ever need.

It rocks. Now, to be clear, this really was not meant to be a bragging session about how great my job is. It’s great, and it’s a really good fit for me. But it also presents a challenge when it comes to my new lease on trying to lose weight.

Lemme ‘splain. See, while Yelp can help you find pretty much anything from a new doctor to a place to get your bike fixed, as you can all probably attest, it is most well-known for being a resource when it comes to food & restaurants. And the fact of the matter is that the majority of businesses with whom I work and the majority of places where I throw events are restaurants. So, yeah, I’m around food and thinking about food and looking at food a lot.

Throw in the fact that even in my personal world, I love dining out — trying new restaurants, getting the scoop on the latest food trends, satisfying my unquenchable thirst for bubble tea — and you can see where we might hit a few road blocks, weight loss-wise. Now, losing weight and eating out are not mutually exclusive things, of course. I’ve written many posts in the past about being able eat in restaurants while in weight-loss mode, and I never really gave up my love for dining out when I lost weight before.

But even with the frequency of which I was going out to eat back then (I did it quite a bit), it’s not the same as it is now. Back when I was working my old government contracting jobs, I was in a routine where I was eating breakfast before work, then usually bringing in a healthy lunch. So even if I went out to dinner, I had still set myself up well to be able to indulge a little more than evening. But in this job, every day is so different from the next, and I don’t always know exactly how things are going to play out, meal-wise.

Some days I’m home all day and have the flexibility to be able to cook and make whatever I want, but other days I might be out flitting from meeting to meeting all day long. This week alone, I had a dinner event Monday, met my coworker for lunch Tuesday, had all-day calls Wednesday, and I have another event tonight.

I don’t mean to make it seem like I blame my weight gain on this job. I really don’t! But it would be naive of me not to recognize the additional temptations and challenges that come with having a food-centric job. It makes planning things out in advance all the harder… and at the same time all the more necessary. The problem is, I’ve never been great at meal planning, prepping, or any of that stuff. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pantry kind of home cook, and I like being inspired in the kitchen.

So my current challenge is to get better about planning out my week in advance, so that I take full advantage of the times when I can eat at home, and so that I make good, thoughtful choices when I’m out. I know that this will involve not a small amount of pre-planning grocery lists and whatnot, so that I make sure that A) I always have good options to eat when I am home, and B) the food I do get at the store doesn’t go bad before I can use it. I admit, I am notoriously awful at overdoing it at the grocery store and then letting food go bad in our fridge because I didn’t think about how many events or commitments I had that week.

But with a little bit of extra planning, I know that I can be successful. Take last night, for example. I have dinner with my family every week (aww/gross, I know ;)), and we started doing a new thing where we rotate between my parents’ house, Ben & Taylor’s house, and my house. Since last night was Sean’s & my first time hosting, I took full advantage of being able to cook something healthy for the whole fam.

I made a large batch of turkey chili with beans (with all the fixin’s!) and some baked sweet potato fries. It ended up being a delicious and filling meal for everyone (well, at least I sure hope they didn’t leave hungry!) and I got to stay on track. And all it took was a tiiiiny bit of forethought — I mean, maybe this is a bad example because obviously I wasn’t going to just play pantry roulette when I knew I had a large group of people to feed, but you kind of get where I’m going with this, right?

And once I get the hang of planning the week out better, hopefully it will also help alleviate my automatic default setting of wanting to go out (or order in) whenever I don’t really know what I want to eat. The trick will, of course, be continually planning meals that are exciting and relatively culinarily challenging since I like to pretend like I’m on Top Chef every time I’m in the kitchen. That’s why I really loved meal boxes like Hello Fresh — the meals they sent were so interesting and everything I needed was already RIGHT THERE. Except that, too, fell victim to ingredients going bad in the fridge because I didn’t use them in time due to various other dinnertime commitments of one kind or another. Plus, it was just a little too expensive to maintain on the reg.

Aaaanyway, all this babbling has really just been to say that I’m going to try meal planning a little better from now on. So all you super organized folks, let me know the secrets to your success! Do you use a planner, do you have a whiteboard, are you putting your meals into Google Calendar… is there an app for that?

Be proud of me, guys. As Alexander Hamilton/Lin-Manuel Miranda says, “For the first time I’m thinking past tomorrow!” (Ohhhh yeah, I’m SUUUUPER Hamilton obsessed by the way) and genuinely trying to take a grown-up approach to this ish. Because, while dining out is an inevitability for me (even if work wasn’t a factor, I just love restaurants, man!), there is absolutely no excuse not to make the most of the time I do get to spend in my own kitchen, right?

Success, Failure, and Complications of the Past

Most of you reading this probably know that back in August 2010, I started this blog purely to help me with my weight loss. It was called, “Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!” and writing about my struggles, victories, failures, and successes eventually led me from 246 pounds to 186 pounds — a sixty pound weight loss.

Of course, as we all know, I did not maintain that weight loss. And I find myself nearly exactly at the same weight I was five and a half years ago — in fact, I had to lose 7 pounds just to get back to (almost) the same starting point. Needless to say, facing up to this fact has been a real challenge for me.

See, previously having succeeded in losing weight, I have all sorts of comparison photos that show the before vs. the “after.” Of course, now, having gained my weight back, my “current” is basically worse off than my original “before.” This, it goes without saying, is both a strange and supremely disheartening feeling. In past years, I spent not a small amount of time putting together collages and photo comparisons of myself before and after my weight loss. I wrote many, many posts all about how overjoyed I was not to be “that person” anymore… only to slowly become that person over the next couple of years.

Now, granted, I realize that I’m not really the exact same person. I’m older, wiser (?), and my hair has gotten way, way, way more fun. But you understand my point. The fact that I’ve already been through this once (and, if we’re being honest, it’s really been more like eleventy billion times, given how often I’ve started and stalled in my various weight loss attempts, but I digress…) means that I’ve got a lot of complicated feelings about going through it again.

Every victory feels tainted with the knowledge that I’m doing it over.

Every time I stop myself from taking seconds, or I decline ordering dessert, it reminds me that I’m just at the very beginning of this long, arduous process.

And it just feels like I’ve wasted so much time.

How do I celebrate my current and future successes when each one is just a reminder that I backslid so far in the first place? How do I look past what’s happened in my past?

I know in a cognitive sense that it’s dumb to dwell on this. What’s happened has happened, and the only way to go is forward. But knowing and feeling, I think we can all agree, are different things. And right now, this feels so joyless because I can’t block out the idea that I’m living my own straight-to-DVD sequel.

This is not to say that I’m discouraged enough to stop. It’s the contrary, really, I feel as though I have all the more to prove now. I just hope that as I go along, I’ll be able to reclaim some of the joy that comes with the smaller victories along the way. Because any way you dice it, staring down 40 or 60 or 80 or however many pounds one needs to lose… that’s a tough pill to swallow. And finding joy in the 5 pound losses and the non-scale victories and the little indicators of success was so crucial for me the first time around.

I guess there’s only one way to find out how I’m really going to be feeling over time — I need to give it time. After all, this is still so new. And yet, old. Haha, are you guys sick of me talking like this yet?

All right, I think I’ve blabbed on enough for one day. Those who know me, know that I deal with having a lot of feelings on any regular day, so throw in my currently complicated self-image, weight loss, and what can only be described as intense sugar withdrawal symptoms, and well, you get me.

But don’t worry, sunshiney, bubbly Gretchen will make a triumphant return before long, I’m sure of it. Just let this hot mess version work out a few more things first, eh?