The Evolution of a Blog

Between the time I launched my original bloggity blog in August 2010 and now, it’s gone through no less than three major redesigns (I don’t even have screenshots of the original layout because it was just so atrocious) and header updates. I’ve written and re-written and edited and re-edited my “About Me” page, I’ve created landing pages and reworked navigation menus, I’ve moved widgets and installed plugins and worked and zonkified and given myself heart attacks by accidentally inputting wonky code and crashing my own blog.

Indeed, this blog is no stranger to change.

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Whether it’s because you desire some stronger, more professional branding…

… or you’re just itching for a fresh new theme…

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… updating and refreshing your blog is something I’d consider both healthy and necessary for most bloggers. But then why, one might ask, did I decide to take things a few steps further this time and change my entire blog — title included?

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The obvious answer is that I had lost quite a bit of my blogging mojo over the past few months… half a year… whatever… and needed a change in scenery to help me get back into the groove. Which, of course, is true, but it bears noting that all my past blog updates have generally yielded the same result. I mean, getting a shiny new header pic, changing a fontset, or installing a new theme is usually enough to stoke the flames of my blogging fire, so why’d I have to go so far as to change my name, my URL, my blogging identity?

Well, the truth is that I wasn’t just unmotivated to blog. It’s not that I didn’t want to write, to keep up with you guys, to be able to bear my soul (and/or vainly force you to look at pictures of myself) on a regular basis. It’s that when I did try to blog, I felt disingenuous. After all, I had a weight loss blog and I really wasn’t into losing weight anymore.

I tried to keep it up, to kick my weight loss efforts back into action and utilize the accountability that this blog has always provided me, but something just wasn’t right. It felt forced, it made me resentful, and thus, I continued to get worse and worse about updating this blog.

Of course, I know that not all of my readers were coming here solely for updates on my weight loss progress, and that many of my awesome internet friends actually (bewilderingly) seemed to enjoy posts simply about the goings-on of my daily life. But even when I did write about that stuff, I felt like I was ignoring the mission of my blog. Which made me feel like a fraud.

I felt like, because of the specific focus from which my blog was born, I still had to address my body and my attempts at losing weight. So, instead of being able to truly blog about whatever I wanted to, I still had to somehow fit in a line about my weight loss attempts… which had become nonexistent… which just meant I was coming up with excuses… and that made me feel lousy.

So. Where did that leave me? In a very sad place, of course! I was a blogger without a blog, essentially. At least, without one she wanted to contribute to. And so, after a few weeks of soul-searching and a few failed attempts at journal-writing (I mean, hello, what’s the point of baring my soul if people can’t comment on my thoughts?!), I decided that what I most definitely did not want is to stop blogging all together. But maybe I just needed to broaden my horizons a bit and open up the focus of this blog.

Now, let it be said that blogging without any kind of focus is really, really hard. A lot of people (myself tooootally included), say that they want to start a blog, so they go ahead and do just that. Only, their blog isn’t really about anything specific, so it becomes very difficult to think of things to blog about. And so, inevitably, they give up after only a few posts, because it’s just too hard to decide on something to blog about on a daily basis. (Again, I’m speaking from experience here. I must have tried to start at least 10 different blogs between my Xanga, Livejournal, and WordPress attempts combined.)

I liken it to being given a writing assignment in class. The teacher says, “Write a story.” And you spend an entire week just trying to figure out what you want to write about, let alone doing the actual writing. But when your teacher says, “Write a story about a kid who discovers a time machine,” your brain is immediately alight with ideas. You’ve got a focus, a direction, and you still get to figure out all the details on your own, but you’ve got a good place to start.

So when I started Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! as a weight-loss blog, it was great. I had a never-ending slew of inspiration for posts because, even if I ran out of ideas or things weren’t particularly exciting in my life that week, I could always bring it back to one thing: my weight loss efforts. I could blog about what I ate the day before, or I could report on my latest weigh-in, and that was that.

Until, of course, I didn’t want to blog about those things anymore, as mentioned.

So, here we are! I made the executive decision to rebrand my blog, which has had the simultaneous effects of rejuvenating my blogging mojo (because, y’know, it’s all shiny and new again) and also refocusing my blog mission to more accurately reflect my interests. And while I am taking a bit of a risk, since my new focus (body acceptance and love, partially, but mostly just my life) is much broader and less specific than my last one (weight loss and health), so far it seems to be working out pretty well! After all, it might be harder for me to think up interesting topics from time to time, but at least I won’t feel like a bit fat phony when I do.

Reset, Refocus, Revitalize

O HAI THERE.

Whaddya know, I still have a blog. Guess I kind of forgot about it in all the post-Yelper Party mayhem, eh? Well, if there is only one person reading this, then I definitely only have myself to blame for that (but thank you to that one person *coughmomcough* for sticking with me!).

I just popped in to say that I know I’ve been a bad, bad blogger recently, but I actually have some fun news to share. See, I think that the time away from the pressures of feeling bad about not blogging (or writing) has given me the break that I needed to recharge my batteries. Work craziness has died down somewhat and I’m returning to a state of normalcy, which means I’m actually itching to get back in the saddle, as it were!

Of course, with the break from blogging and the mental reset also came a few realizations (that tie in pretty well with the content of my last post). See, I think that those of you who suggested I consider rebranding and refocusing this here blog are right! I’ve spent almost four (!!) amazing years with Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! and I’ve grown up and I’ve lost weight and I’ve learned more about myself than I thought I ever would, but, as you have no doubt noticed, my priorities have definitely changed.

Weight loss itself hasn’t been a priority for me in quite a while — at least not in the same way that it once was. And I’m actually pretty okay with that. I’m actually pretty okay with myself right now… for like, the first time ever, hahahaha. So I’d like this blog to be a bit more reflective of that. Of my new perspective, of my new goals (or my lack of goals), of the fact that I’m a different gal than I was 4 years ago. So I’ll be rebranding this blog to be representative of exactly that!

Nothing has been created just yet, but I just wanted to take this time to update you on what’s going on, and to let you know that I think there are some fun things on the horizon. So stay tuned (hey, if you’ve stuck with me this long, what’s a little while longer, eh?) and, as always, feel free to let me know if you think I’m making a giant mistake… though you know I’m just gonna do it anyway. 😉

The Missing Ingredient

So, as evidenced by the increasing infrequency of my posting, I guess you can probably imagine that work has gotten muy loco once again, and this poor, neglected blog is suffering the consequences. Well, there is good news and bad news that comes out of this fact, the bad news being that, of course, my posting has gone out the window… as have my *ahem* weigh-ins. (Oops.)

BUT. The good news is that the thing that I’m working on is a flippin’ huge, rocktastic, amaaaaahzing party that Y-O-U are invited to attend!

Yelp Gets Lucky

Yelp Gets Lucky is taking place on Friday, June 13th from 8 – 10 PM (or 7 PM if you’re part of the Yelp Elite Squad) and it’s going to be a seriously good time. We’re talking tons of noms, draaaaanks, and entertainment, all courtesy of amazing local businesses!

Best of all? It’s 100% TOTALLY COMPLETELY FREE to attend! All you gotta do is RSVP on Yelp. That’s it. For serious. So local readers, you have no excuse not to come out and play, okay?!

Aaaaanyway, now that that shameless plug is out of the way, let’s get back to me making pitiful excuses for why I haven’t been blogging. I mean, wait. What?

Okay, so here’s the real deal. (Buckle in, this is gonna be a long ride, folks.) I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this blog and where I’m going with it. You know, thinking about where I was in my life when I wrote that first post three and half years ago, and where I am now. Thinking about the goals I’ve achieved, the ones that I’ve failed at, the ones that I first achieved and THEN failed at maintaining afterwards… and how with the onset of this dream job and so many things in my life falling into place, maintaining this blog has lately felt more like a burden than a joy.

I know, I know, that sounds bad, and maybe it actually reads harsher than I really mean it to, but, hmm. How do I say it… I guess I’ve been kind of tiptoeing around the fact that I’m just not as passionate about blogging as I used to be. And I’ve been blaming it on being busy or being distracted or whatever, but I think we all know that it’s not really about not having the time to do it.

I mean, here’s the story of this blog in a nutshell: I was fat and unhappy, so I lost a buncha weight. And it was awesome! Aaaand then I gained a whole bunch of weight back. And that was not so awesome (especially to admit… publicly… on the interwebs) but, unlike before, I was fat and happy. Not happy about being fat, but you know what I mean. But, hey, I write a weight loss blog. So I knew that eventually I needed to own up to regaining the weight, and that I also needed to re-lose it. I had it in my mind that if I did it once, I could do it again just as long as I did all the same things I did the first time around. So that’s what I set out to do.

And sure, it worked for a while, because just paying attention to myself and what I was eating again was enough to help me shed those first 10, 15 pounds again. But then… I dunno. My drive just kinda — poof! — disappeared. And I couldn’t really figure out why. After all, I was doing all the same things I did the first time. Counting my calories, exercising (well, kinda…), cleaning my diet back up. And it was working! I was losing weight again. And yet… something was still missing.

I just haven’t been able to muster up the same enthusiasm towards my weight loss that I had the first time around. Maybe it’s because I’ve taken so many steps backwards that the fact that I’m finally moving forward again isn’t really a big deal. Because I’m still so far from where I once was. So, you know, celebrating a loss that I had already lost but subsequently regained doesn’t really seem like an appropriate thing to celebrate anymore. There’s too much guilt and shame involved now.

Beyond that, though, I think part of the reason why doing all the same things and following the same path doesn’t feel quite right anymore is because while all those things might be the same, I’m not. I’m pretty damn different now than I was three and a half years ago (um, thank GOODNESS, right?). Pretty much everything in my life has changed since then — my job (VIVA LA YELP!), my relationship (I think I’ll keep him), even my family (hello, Auntie Gretchen!). In fact, the only thing that hasn’t really changed is this pervasive obsession I continue to have with losing weight and, while we’re being honest I’ll just say it, being thin.

Let’s just face facts: While I talked a LOT about how, really, this blog is about getting healthy, and, really, it’s about working through my food issues, and, really, it’s about loving myself, you wanna know what it’s REALLY been about? Losing weight. I mean, it’s right there in the title. And I feel like in having that focus right from the start, I was always in the mindset that there was something about me that needed to change. That needed to be fixed. And that one basic thought right there, despite all my best efforts and a lot of denial, led the way for a lifetime of doubt and self-loathing to settle in under every victorious blog post, every one of my successes.

I mean, heck, even when I did lose 60 pounds and felt happy and whole and looked rockin’ in tapered denim, I still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to continue to “fix” myself, to lose more, to be skinnier… and I’m pretty sure that lack of contentment is probably a key factor in why I started to regain weight in the first place.

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So yes, I obviously would love to get back to that place, that weight, how I felt at that time. But I don’t want to get there by spouting positivity on this blog but secretly wishing I could chop off the rolls on my stomach in private. The truth of the matter is that I’ve spent far too much of my life punishing myself for my body, being mad at myself for lacking the self-control to be thin, hatefully comparing myself to other women.

Now, let’s just hit the “pause” button for a hot sec, because I want to clarify that this post is in no way a declaration that I’m going to stop blogging. I’m obviously waaaaay too egomaniacal to ever do that. Please. But I am starting to reevaluate what it is that I’m looking to get out of this and put into this blog. Because I don’t think my real goal is just to lose weight any more. Or, at least, I don’t think I want it to be.

Maybe I’m finally getting to a place where I truly do want to work towards being able to fully accept and love my body as-is. No improvements needed. And I promise, I’m not trying to use this as an excuse to be lazy and eat whatever I want and be unhealthy. This is all about trying to implement a shift in my perspective, and I think it’s time for me to take a break from this total fixation I have on my weight, my size, and my body in general. Or at least, to TRY to take a break from it.

And you know, while I’m working on the full mental overhaul that I’m sure will be required to get me to see things just a little differently (I tell ya, the media industry really has done a number on me), I’ll continue to eat healthily (for the most part, as I do now) and go to the gym (for the occasional part, at least) and we’ll see where that gets me for the next little while.

Aaaaand since this post has LONG since passed the “eyes glazing over” stage right into TL;DR territory, I’ll go ahead and stop myself here. Let’s see how this attempt at a shiny new perspective goes, shall we?

The Healthy Living Summit 2013

Hiya folks! Well, I’m back from Minneapolis with a belly full of delicious food and a brain full of blogging inspiration. Ahhh, just like old times!

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There was a lot of picture-taking (photobooths FTW!), a lot of hugs of friends I haven’t seen since, well, last year’s HLS, and lots of delicious food. I actually made the conscious choice to leave my big DSLR at home this time, since in past years I’ve had such a focus on taking pictures, editing them, and posting blog posts DURING the conference. And since I wanted to be able to really enjoy the summit (and the folks I was summiting with!), I opted for the good ol’ iPhone instead.

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I still think we ended up with some pretty cute pics, don’t you? 😉

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Lauren, who I’ve missed SO much since she moved from this area out to Colorado earlier this year, and Cassie, who I CANNOT BELIEVE I HADN’T PHYSICALLY MET BEFORE SINCE WE ARE LIKE SISTERS OMG TRUTHFACT, stuck together for much of the conference, getting to meet and mingle with so many of our fellow bloggers as we did.

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Photo thanks to Mindy

I’m sure many of you have already gone through dozens of HLS recaps, so I’ll keep this one brief. There was an awesome dinner the first night at Town Hall Brewery the first night that Casey put together, followed by the traditional cocktail party, and then Saturday kicked off with the sessions!

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For those of you who weren’t able to attend, or who missed the presentation by Cassie, Lauren, and me, please feel free to check out the slides and recaps of the presentation. Here are a bunch of links for ya:

The most beautiful slides in the world, by none other than the amazing Cassie Johnston

Lauren’s Presentation Recap

Sam’s liveblog of the session

Cassie’s HLS Recap

I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have on utilizing your personal blog to help transform your career path! (Feel free to check out the hashtag #HLS13BlogtoJob to see what other kinds of questions we’ve already had, too!)

So as I mentioned before, I also participated in a book club centered around my very own bookchild, TERRA! It was awesome getting to discuss the book in person with so many people who’d read it (and enjoyed it, or so they said ;)) and I totally felt like pretty baller when I was signing copies, hehehe.

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Photo thanks to Alicia

It was an awesome weekend, over ENTIRELY too soon, but thankfully I have eighty zillion various food samples and products to keep the memories alive… until I eat them all. Sidebar: Have you guys tried the Salt & Vinegar Blue Diamond Almonds yet?! CRAAAAACK ALMONDS!!! THEY ARE SO GOOD.

Thanks for another great weekend, HLS!

#HLS13

By this time tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to sunny (?) Minneapolis for the 2013 Healthy Living Summit! This year marks my third year at the Summit, and my second year speaking.

Some of you might remember that last year I gave a presentation on Blog Photography 101, and this year I’m teaming up with my gals Lauren from Me and the Mountains and Cassie from Back to Her Roots for a panel on how blogging has helped lead to our dream jobs (without having to blog full time AS our jobs).

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I’m super excited, not only for the panel, but getting to reunite with Lauren, who moved from this area a few months ago, and to finally MEET Cassie, who I feel like I’ve already known forever. Cassie designed an absolutely epic presentation and I know it’ll be amazing.

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(I mean, seriously, it is the most beautiful set of slides I’ve ever seen in my life. Do you SEE why I asked her to design my book cover now? :D)

Here’s the official blurb for our panel in case you’re interested in exactly what we’ll be speaking about:

From Blog to Job: Utilizing Your Personal Blog to Elevate Your Career

Unfortunately, it is a small (itty bitty, teeny weeny) percentage of us that will be able to turn our blogs into a full-time career on their own. But that doesn’t mean that blogging can’t help lead to great things for our careers! Join Cassie from Back to her Roots and Lauren from Me and the Mountains for a panel led by Gretchen of Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen, on the ways that blogging has helped these different women find their dream jobs.

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In addition to leading the panel, I’ll also be front and center at the HLB Book Club meeting which is on… my book, TERRA! Yay! Hopefully this will be the final push I need to finish out Book 2! Hehe.

If you’re at HLS this year, PLEASE make sure to say hi! I like to think I’m fairly easy to spot now that my hair is purple. Purple and pink. Kekeke.