Hello Stranger

Oh, hey there.

This is awkward.

Cause, y’know, I haven’t really been around lately.

Sorry about that.

Well, not really sorry, per se, since you probably already know my stance on bloggers apologizing for not blogging. I mean, I do know that it’s not like your lives have stopped just because I haven’t been recording mine lately, I really do! Although, let’s be honest, sometimes I like to think I have that kind of affect anyway, just for sake of my ego (it’s quite large, you know).

Anyway, hi. I know that my blog updates as of late have been rather few and far between, but don’t think for one second it’s because I’m phasing blogging out of my life or any such ridiculous nonsense like that. This blog isn’t stopping — I’m far too much of an attention-whore to ever let THAT happen — I’m just taking a little breather. A bit of a break. Because, in all honesty, I know most people don’t think that blogging takes up much time, but it can be really time-consuming. Taking and editing photos, threading words together coherently enough to create a legible post… sure, it ain’t rocket science, but it’s not as wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am as some might think either. And sometimes, rare though these occasions might be, there’s just a bit too much going on in my life for me to actually take the time to stop and write about it.

Life is INDEED happening, and I am so, so, so, so excited to update you on those things soon. There are definitely exciting things in the works, first and foremost being that my big brother is getting MARRIED this weekend!

Take what you know about how much I love weddings, and then add that to how much I love my brother, and you might start to get an idea for how ridonkulously excited I am about this weekend.

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PLUS my perfect niece (and soon to be goddaughter – squee!) Mia is coming back up with my sister and her hubs for the wedding AND for her baptism the following day (on Jenny’s first Mother’s Day! D’awwww…)

Also, in posting both of those pictures above, I’m suddenly made aware of how lucky I am to be able to photograph so many beautifl family moments — Ben and Tay’s engagement shoot in St. Maarten, Mia’s newborn shoot, and I’ll be playing the triple roll of bridesmaid, sister, and photographer at the rehearsal dinner on Friday! Admittedly, I originally got into photography mostly because of this blog — I really just wanted to take nice pictures of my food, and it helped that Ben is a photog so he could help me out. But it has turned out to be so incredibly rewarding.

…Whew! I wasn’t quite expecting to get so sappy this morning! I think that’s quite enough cheesiness for today. Anyway, the bottom line is that I just wanted to let you know I’m still here, and will be back with more regularity soon, I’m sure. In the meantime though, I’m going to keep enjoying some of that life I’ve been living. 😉

Blobby

So I was trying to come up with a clever portmanteau word that combines “blogging” with “hobby”, and I ended up with “blobby.” So even though it’s not clever at all, I’m keeping it because it makes me laugh. Heh.

Anyway, I wanted to talk a little bit about blogging as a whole today. It starts with this epic webcomic from The Oatmeal that my friend Lara alerted me to, and it ends with me finally addressing why my posting to this blog has taken such a backseat in my life lately.

See, in a much more humorous and perfect way than I could, Oatmeal creator Matt Inman explains why it’s both rewarding and challenging to be a web content creator. Now, really, that title could cover any number of things: bloggger, vlogger, Youtube singer/songwriter, writer for an online publication, etc, etc. The actual job itself doesn’t matter so much as the fact that what you’re doing is on and for the Almighty Interwebs. As Oats puts it, “Your career + the internet = sad.” Now, of course, it goes without saying that this little blog is nothing compared to a site like The Oatmeal, and also that this is not my full-time job. So while I do feel pressures to maintain this site, to make sure it’s regularly updated and accessible (been having particular issues with that lately — my apologies!), it’s not quite the same as knowing my income or living standard is dependent on my pageviews.

That said, the pressures are still there. It sounds silly to even admit, but what can I say? I’m a people pleaser, and I love writing this blog, and I love that you guys continue to come back here to read it. But I think it’s probably fairly obvious to most of you that things over here have been a little lax and a little lacking lately, both in my general healthy living efforts, and in my blogging about said efforts. And I feel guilty about that. I feel guilty when I can’t think of anything to write about, when I just don’t feel like taking the time to whip out my camera because I am so hungry can I please just eat already. So, without trying to sound like I’m so egotistical to think that your life is lacking without a daily update from yours truly (even though I totally am), at least I feel kind of bad about it? Hahaha.

I’ve mentioned it before, but the obvious reasoning for that is because almost 100% of my extracurricular (er, extraworkulcar?) time is being devoted to finishing the edits of my book. I am still desperately trying to meet my (self-imposed) deadline of a December release. (Hey, remember when I said that I was looking at a mid-November release? Haaaaaahahahahahaha. That was funny. Cry.) And that’s a whole other layer of pressure and anxiety (again, this is all kind of silly, because I know when push comes to shove, it’s pressure I put on myself, but still) on top of this one. So ultimately, it makes sense that something starts to give. And because, as much as I love this blog, it is still my hobby, whereas I am hoping that someday I can turn fiction writing into my career, it means that this is the thing that has to give a little. It means sometimes, I only update twice a week. And sometimes, my posts are barely more than pictures of my dogs, because they make me happy. And a lot of the time, you’ll find me whining into the great social media void. Heh, sorry about that last one.

Shockingly, this wasn’t actually meant to be one giant apology for not posting as regularly lately, even though that’s kind how it’s sounding, haha. It’s just an update on where things stand. And to say that I–the Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen blogging me–am not going anywhere. It just may take a little bit of time to fully come back around. But hey, job or hobby, that’s how everything is, right? There are bumps and dips, hills and valleys. But I’ve spent 2 1/2 years on this particular blobby of mine (kekeke), and I certainly don’t envision giving up on it for a long, long time.

Aaaaand, to cap things off, especially so there’s something here for you wordy-post-skimmers (I don’t blame you!), here are some picture of festive holiday schnauzers. Well, some holiday schnauzers, at any rate. They probably weren’t feeling particularly festive, but oh well.

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What you looking at, fella?
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Life Update & Weigh-in

Hi there folks,

I know I’ve been a little AWOL over the past few days, and even though I hate the whole thing where bloggers apologize for not posting, I’m going to apologize anyway. I don’t have the self-inflated sense of ego to think that your lives have been worse for the wear without a daily dose of me (oh, who am I kidding? Of course I do. Bahahaha.), but I also am a big fan of consistency. In fact, it’s my #1 tip that I give to new bloggers who are trying to grow their traffic: post on a consistent schedule. I usually do pretty well sticking to my once-a-day, Monday-through-Friday posting schedule, but obviously the past couple of weeks have been just a little bit more hectic than usual. Oh wellps.

But because you know I love having excuses for, er, everything, lemme ‘splain. Wait. There is no time. Let me sum up. Work has been ridiculously busy since September marked the end of the federal fiscal year. Which basically meant there was suddenly a crapton of stuff for me to actually, uh, do. And I’m still riding that wave. Outside of work, I’ve also been spending a lot of time on my book, which has cut into a lot of my other normal extracurriculars. Like taking photos of my food. Heh.

Shockingly (not really), writing a novel is proving much more difficult than I’d have thought. Legitimately shockingly, however, I’m almost done with the writing part! I’d say that I’m about 87% (yes, I’m being that specific) of the way there, story-wise. And considering I only really started buckling down at the end of June, I think that’s pretty good progress. Sure, things definitely slowed down when my life exploded, but I’m back on a roll now.

Of course, writing is actually the easy part of all this. After I’m done comes all the hard stuff. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m planning on self-publishing which means I’ll be handling all of the revisions, copyediting, formatting, design, publishing, and marketing myself. Well, with the help of a few lovely and talented people that happen to like me (for now). All that said, I’m actually feeling pretty good at making the December release date I originally had planned on. I’m not dead-set on it — it’ll happen when it happens — but as long as I can continue with the momentum that I have right now, I think I could make it! And then you can all buy my book as a Christmas present to me. 🙂

In other good news, I got my car back yesterday from the shop. It’s unfortunately not really jump-for-joy good news, however, because even though my car LOOKS good, it still doesn’t FEEL quite the same. Call it the psychosomatic echoes of the accident(s). I’m sure I’ll get over it in time though, and at least in the meantime I have access to a push-button start and Sirius XM again.

In less good news, I’m still not 100% recovered from the car accidents. I still feel a lot of discomfort in my shoulder and neck area, which I’m sure isn’t helped by the fact that I sit in front of a computer for 8 hours at work, and then sit with a laptop in my lap once I get home. But I am getting better, so that’s something! It’s usually worst in the morning (maybe I also have been sleeping weird), and then lessens throughout the day. It’s been almost a month since the accident, so I’m not terribly pleased that it’s taking so long for me to get back to normal. That said, I am happy that I’m at least making progress.

Okay, now I believe I owe you guys a weigh-in. You’ve probably already picked up on the fact that I’m only posting my weigh-ins every two weeks. There are a few reasons for this, but it’s mostly because I found doing them weekly to be simultaneously tedious and discouraging. I’m trying to embrace a holistic approach to my health, not JUST define it by a number on the scale, but that’s hard for me because for most of my life, I’ve been overly focused on that number. But, while I don’t want to OVERemphasize my weight, at the same time it is still an indicator of how I’m doing and whether or not I’m staying on track.

ANYWAY. I talk too much. Let’s see the results:

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 202.8 lbs
This Weigh-in: 201.5 lbs
Difference: -1.3 lbs

Another strong pound down! I’ll take it. I know that one pound every two weeks isn’t exactly record-breaking weight loss, but as long as I’m continuing in a downward trend I can honestly say I’m happy. Weight loss always seems like it has more longevity when it comes off slowly, and all the yo-yoing I was doing before — 3 pounds down, 2 pounds up, 2 pounds down, 1 pound up — was really not doing me ANY motivational favors. That’s pretty much the reason I can’t weigh myself daily. All the up-and-down is just too frustrating, and takes too much of a toll on my self-worth. So, anyway, long, overly wordy story short: I’m pleased.

And with that, I bid you adieu!

Edited to add: I just posted a couple of sample chapters from my book over on my writing blog! Feel free to check ’em out. 🙂

The Good Life

Shocking though this may be, given the amount of complaining I do, I’d say that I’m generally a pretty positive person. I have my fair share of doldrum-dwelling moments, sure, but most of the time I tend to be of the half-full rather than half-empty mentality, more optimist than pessimist, and more happy-go-lucky than down in the dumps. My proclivity for wanting to see the better side of things clearly affects me in lots of positive ways. It allows me to keep my chin up when my weight loss isn’t progressing as planned (speaking of which, I think I’ll stay in denial just a little while longer, kthx). It helps my unfortunately thin skin heal whenever I read or hear something that might hurt my overly-sensitive feelings. It means I am simply terrible at holding grudges.

So, understanding that I grew out of my “I hate everything, the world sucks!” phase when I was 15, I doubt it’s particularly surprising to hear me talking about how good life is or how content I am right now. Nevertheless, I’m going to say it anyway. Life is good right now, and I want to talk about that. Hey, it’s my blog and I can brag if I want to, after all! Think of this as a general life update, because I know you care so very, very much. Hehe.

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(Photo by Ben)

Re: Family.

You guys are probably already well-aware of the fact that I’m kind of ridiculously close with my family. Like, far closer than the average 24-year-old almost-adult should be. I live with my brother, we have dinner with our parents at least once a week, and even though my sister lives in Columbia (near Baltimore), I also see her on an almost weekly-basis. Much to the probable chagrin of my brother-in-law and future sister-in-law (ahahaha), we still love going on family vacations together, going to events together, and just generally hanging out with each other. It’s weird, I know. I love my family — crazy! We’re a Family with a capital F, as my father says. The only unfortunate part of this whole arrangement is that Jenny will be moving to Houston by the end of the month (her hubby’s already there — cry!), a fact which I am begrudgingly beginning to accept.

We do have extended family in Houston (my aunt and grandmother live in the same neighborhood Jenny & Dan will be in), and my BFFFFFFF Bethany lives less than two hours away from there, as I understand it. I haven’t seen her in over TWO years. Omgaaaah. Saying (er, typing) that out loud makes me really upset. Looks like a visit to the Lonestar State will have to be on my agenda soon!


(Photo by Taylor)

Re: Romanticalness.

Teeheehee, blush, blinkblink, etc. Things are still going very well with Sean, the giver of gifts extraordinaire. This month marks FIVE months! Time really flies. We’re like a match made in Whasian Heaven. This weekend we are seeing the Beauty and the Beast musical at the National Theatre on Friday, and then going to see Dave Matthews Band on Saturday. <3.


(Photo by Taylor)

Re: Pups.

Well, they’re still perfect, obviously. I gave them haircuts on Monday. They look very dapper.

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Re: Creative Outlets.

I’ve been getting back to being a little more experimental and creative in the kitchen, which is making me really happy. Last night, I made pizza with barbecue pork and caramelized onions! Nom. I’ve slipped a little on the creative writing side in recent weeks, due to traveling, work, and school (updates on those last two coming up). I started writing a novel a few months ago (nerd alert!) and really want to get back into it. Writing, as you can probably tell from how wordy this post already is, makes me really happy.


(Photo by Taylor)

Re: Weight Loss.

I doubt that it’s been lost on any of you that I haven’t weighed in since before the Reach the Beach relay and my St. Maarten vacation. Well, it hasn’t been lost on me either. I know there’s really no point in me continuing to put it off (especially considering that this is supposed to be a weight loss blog, haha), but… I don’t know. I guess I just haven’t had the willpower or the motivation to actually step on the scale since.

Part of it comes from morbid curiosity: this has been my longest break from the scale since I started losing weight almost 2 years ago, and part of me wants to see what happens. It’s not like I’ve been going crazy or anything. I’m still working out two to three times a week, I’m still tracking (most of) what I’m eating, and I haven’t been backsliding into any dangerous disordered behavior or anything like that. I think honestly, that’s what makes it so scary though. The thought that even though I haven’t been doing anything “bad” (I wasn’t even THAT terrible while on vacation!), I might still have gained weight. I don’t think I want the confirmation that I’m destined for a lifetime of regains and relosses, calorie counting, and the like. I’ll face the music eventually, and sooner rather than later, I’m sure. Just, for now, I’d like to prolong the denial just a smidge. Kthx. 😉

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Re: Work & School.

Work is work, and I don’t really have much to complain about there. I like my office, my coworkers, and I know I have it pretty good in my office. It’s starting to get just the slightest bit more stressful for me (not by much, just a smidge) though, since I’ve taken on a few classes as part of me working towards my eventual Masters of Education. I’m currently taking two classes that I’ll need to obtain my endorsement in English, Grammar and Survey of English Literature. The grammar class has been particularly educational, if only because it’s taught me that I really didn’t know anything about grammar other than semi-proper punctuation, haha. But now? Subordinate clauses are my bitch! Ahahaha.

I’ll be taking two additional endorsement classes in the Fall, Linguistics and Survey of World Literature, and my grad school application is due October 1st. If I’m accepted, grad school will begin in January. Yipes! I know teaching is certainly not the career for everyone, and who knows if I’d really be able to hack it. Either way, though, it feels good to be working toward something. Forward motion, you know? And regardless of how everything turns out in the end, at least I still know that I love writing, reading, and even with my two little classes right now I’m really just enjoying learning again (nerd alert II!).

One thing that I’ve started to really think about lately is how teaching will affect this blog. Am I concerned at the thought of my classroom full of teenagers being able to Google me in a New York minute? Maybe. This isn’t really something I’m going to have to worry about for a while, since once I even start school it’ll be another year until my teaching internship, but I was talking to my friend Aileen yesterday and she helped me realize that it definitely warrants some thought.

It’s not that I’m really that concerned with the content, per se. I consider this blog to be pretty family-friendly, for the most part. It’s just that I don’t hold a lot back here — not only in terms of my weight (what teacher wants all of her students knowing exactly how much she weighs?!), but in terms of my personal history. There’re some intensely personal posts up here… although now that I say that, I question why I would be concerned with a group of teenagers reading about all that when I’m perfectly at ease sharing it with the entire interwebs, hahaha. There are also not a small amount of photos that depict me in my bathing suit, hahaha.

I have coworkers who read my blog, and my boss found it from Googling me before I even got hired here, so it clearly hasn’t been a hindrance to me professionally thus far. In fact, he said that it actually really impressed him. Showed a degree of technical savvy and entrepreneurial spirit, he said. So, who knows? I’ve spoken with a few bloggers who are also teachers, and their opinions seem to range from “Meh, who cares?” to a few of them having proactively shut down their blogs because of it. I’d be REALLY interested to hear your opinions about blogging and teaching!

So there you have it: one long, drawn out, overly verbose post about the general status of my life as it stands right now. My apologies if it all kind of ended up as one big #humblebrag. I guess I’m just in a good mood today… glass-half-full, y’know? 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

Honey, I Shrunk the Series: Alex Eats Green

Gretchen’s Green Guest:

Hi, fellow foodies! I’m Alex, blogging over at Alex Eats Green. Gretchen was kind enough to pass over the reins while she frolics in Harry Potter land (I’m so JEALOUS) for the weekend. Though not about weight loss, I’ve recently undergone a different kind of transformation: introducing myself to real food.

I live in NYC, and started the blog after being bit hard by the nutrition bug. It was only a matter of time before I found an outlet (other than lecturing my parents) for ranting about the processed food world. I’ve always been an avid Bon Appétit reader, but only recently have I started paying attention to the ingredients listed in all those beautiful recipes, and in turn, what those ingredients do to our bodies. I had become obsessed with learning about nutrition, and had an urge tell people about what I was learning. It was a whole new world that simply astonished me. I couldn’t believe how much I’d been left out of the loop on.

(I really like pickles.)

I stepped into the light after reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. I’ll never forget the moment where it all clicked for me. Summer of 2010, I was reading on a train to Martha’s Vineyard, and Pollan was discussing sugars such as fructose, glucose, and the evil spawn: high-fructose corn syrup. He spoke of the havoc that HFCS can unleash in the body.

I set the book down and thought for a moment.

Ahhhh. I get it now…

We need to eat whole (preferably mostly green) foods in order for our bodies to be happy. And by “happy,” I mean we need to eat food that our body understands, and knows how to break down. When our bodies are happy, we’re happy. Makes sense right? However, the line gets a little blurry when it comes to what constitutes these whole foods; happy foods.

I finally made the correlation as to why when I was a kid, my Mom always insisted on buying us that “gross organic stuff.” The organic whole milk, real cookies (made with milk, sugar, flour, chocolate), Breyer’s ice cream with whole ingredients. Of course when I got out of my Mom’s kitchen, I found my way into the multi-colored world of Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids, KitKats, and Cheetos. I lived in that world until I realized that our bodies don’t have the tools to process these colors (high-fructose corn syrup, processed, artificial coloring) and that it was time to turn my plate around.

I started reading (and watching) everything and anything related to my epiphany. I was passionate about making good food, and about making real food. I also became a vegetarian a little over a year ago (just had my veggieversary!), which stemmed from my newly acquired appreciation for all things green… plus the lofty environmental and ethical effects don’t hurt either. Living in New York City, it’s easy to find fellow green-eaters. I try and take in my fair share of restaurant weeks, but more often that not, I find myself wandering the Union Square farmer’s market searching for the perfect eggplant for that evening’s home cooked meal.

Sometimes I make my own 3-day juice cleanses, and sometimes I eat nothing but cheese over the weekend. Either way, I feel like for the first time in my life, I am really tasting my food, and liking it. Mother approved.

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Thanks, Alex! I love how your story proves that healthy living transformations are not just about weight loss — something that I often forget as someone so fixated on my weight! If any of you are interested in learning more about Alex and following her story further, please check out her blog, Alex Eats Green!

Happy Presidents Day!