Make Me Over

Happy Monday, folks!

I hope you all had a stellar weekend. Mine was wonderful but busy!

It started with Sean and I taking engagement photos with Ben and Taylor:

This is a preview photo, and I am SO excited to see the rest of the shots! We went down to DC and took some pictures by the Botanical Gardens and then some in another part of DC that I can’t waaaaaait for you to see.

And the weekend ended with a seriously baller workout as part of my Yelp Elite Event yesterday:

The event was at The Worx by Maia, and it was a bootcamp-style workout that had us doing everything from battle ropes (pictured above) to tire flips to wall sits to box jumps to… whoosh!

Suffice it to say, it was cray, and I can already feel my muscles hating me (which admittedly doesn’t make me super excited for how I’m gonna feel TOMORROW, haha.)

Anyway, in between those two bookending weekend events, I did some bridal makeup for blog reader Ashley’s big day!

 
Her wedding looked so beautiful! I feel like I have so much appreciation for all the little things that go into weddings now that I’m planning one of my own. And the whole time we were helping her and her bridal party get ready, I just kept thinking how much fun it’s going to be when it’s my turn, hehe!

Of course, while I was there doing makeup for Ashley and her bridesmaids, the inevitable question came up as to whether or not I was going to do my own makeup for my wedding. In the beginning, I thought it would be a no-brainer that, yes, I would definitely want to do my own makeup, but now I’m actually a little torn!

See, the dilemma comes from this: I love makeup, doing makeup, prettifying myself, and prettifying others. I own a lot of makeup (a LOT, hahahaha), and I’ve done makeup for quite a few bridesmaids and a couple of brides at this point.

But, that being said, I feel like most women want their wedding day to feel special and different. And having someone else do your makeup most definitely gives you that pampered feeling. Plus, this way I would definitely have someone there to do the makeup for my bridesmaids who might not want or know how to do it themselves (since I probably won’t really have time to do everyone else’s makeup on my own wedding day, haha.)

Plus, face makeup is not really my specialty (I’d say eye makeup is where I’m strongest), and I especially like the idea of getting airbrushed foundation, especially since I get red-faced suuuuper easily.

But! On the other hand, it obviously costs money to hire someone to do makeup, so there are budgetary concerns. Plus, you hear these stories about women who get their makeup done professional and don’t like it, so they end up redoing it all themselves anyway. I mean, I’d do a trial to make sure I was happy, of course, but there’s still that risk.

Anyway, so this is my current dilemma. I know it’s probably nothing I need to decide RIGHT now, but since I just did bridal makeup this weekend, what can I say? It’s on my mind. I’ll let it percolate a little bit more, but I’d love to hear from you guys on what you did or didn’t do with regard to your wedding day makeup!

Did you get your makeup done on your wedding day? Or did you do your own?

A Shift in Perspective

Happy Monday, folks!

Hopefully you all had rockin’ weekends — mine was pretty busy with not one, but two different events that I worked on Saturday. First up was the Taste of Falls Church, where Intern Sean (heh) and I manned the Yelp booth and challenged many a folk to some rousing rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors in exchange for rockin’ swag.

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I know it doesn’t seem like rock, paper, scissors would be that fun at first glance, but people got really into it! Full credit goes to my beautiful coworker (and fellow blogger!) Kimberly for thinking it up. Plus it’s always a huge hit at family friendly events like this one, because it’s A) free and B) kids know how to play it. Really well, actually. Most of them kicked my butt.

The second event of the day was an Elite Event at Glynn Jones hair salon in Old Town Alexandria. It was my very first salon event so I was admittedly a wee bit nervous, but it turned out so fabulously! Elites got to nosh, sip, and watch (and if they were lucky, get selected for!) demonstrations on blow dry technique, updos, airbrush makeup, and more.

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So Saturday was a tiring day for sure, but a lot of fun at the same time. And I got to make up for it yesterday with just about the laziest Sunday I’ve had in a loooooong time. All I did yesterday was sleep, cuddle with schnauzers, cook, sleep some more, and then give all my money to Target. In my defense, I think I’m a little bit under the weather — Mia was sick pretty much the whole time I was visiting her in Macon, and given her penchant for sharing food (aww!) and my penchant for being a sucker and letting her shove said food into my mouth, I think it’d be more surprising if I didn’t catch whatever she had.

Sickness be damned, though! I’m not feeling too terrible (thanks to the probably 15 hours of collective sleep I got yesterday), so this week I’m determined to continue the good gym habits that my sister helped me start to establish on what shall henceforth be known as the Healthiest Vacation Ever. I’ve marked some classes at my gym that looks interesting and have booked time in my actual calendar to make sure I don’t book any calls or meetings during those times. So now it’s just a matter of actually, well, going!

Now, if any of you are skeptical as to my ability to keep my enthusiasm for working out up, well… I don’t blame you. After all, I don’t exactly have the best track record. I’ve never been shy to admit my utter hatred of working out, getting sweaty (ironic, because I’m probably the sweatiest person on the planet even just standing still and breathing), and just generally exerting myself. I wasn’t a particularly active kid — I played basketball in middle school because I was tall. And I wasn’t very good at it. Growing up, my family never put a real focus on fitness or being active, so I never thought of it as an important thing to incorporate into my daily routine. (This, I have to say, is somewhat funny to me now given that my sister is a marathoner who teaches fitness classes and my dad bikes like 20 miles every single day.)

So I never learned to find the joy in being active, and, obviously, that translated into my adult life. It wasn’t for lack of trying, though. When I first started out on my weight loss journey and found myself immersed in the world of healthy living blogging, I definitely tried. Everyone tells you that you just have to find an activity you like doing, and then you’ll want to that thing and, by default, you’ll want to be active. So I really did try to find something I liked.

I went to the gym. I walked. I ran. I swam. I did yoga. I did hot yoga. I did Zumba. I did CrossFit. Nothing stuck. I never got myself into a regular routine, and when I did go, I still found I was forcing myself to, and only because I knew that it would help me burn XX amount of calories.

Of course, as I discussed in my last post, I’ve also only ever thought of fitness being a means to an end for weight loss.

But hey, it did work for a while! I mean, even if it was unwilling and forced, I still did get myself into gear long enough to help me shed some weight, tone up, and be fit enough to accomplish quite a few fitness milestones. I was running 5Ks and 5 milers and 200-mile team relays, after all. It’s just that even when I was doing those things, even when I was legitimately in shape (well, in shape for me, at least), weight loss was still my primary focus.

But, obviously, using weight loss as a motivator for fitness can only last as long as you are losing weight. So when I stopped actively losing weight, I stopped feeling a need to dedicate time to fitness, and that, amongst other things, meant I ended up gaining back a lot of the weight I had lost.

Which is why I can say, even with my track record of failing at maintaining a regular fitness routine, I’m actually feeling fairly confident about seeing this through this time around. Because I really do feel like my motivation, and my perspective, has shifted. Do I still find myself thinking about my weight, thinking about how I look, comparing myself against the standards that the media has set forth? Of course I do. I’m only human, and I’ve got over twenty years of negative body image and weight obsession to fight against.

That being said, it takes up only a minimal, miniscule amount of my thoughtspace now. And without all those negative thoughts weighing me down, without the constant, continual focus on how any activity, any food, any choice will ultimately affect my weight loss…well, who knows if all the things I thought I felt about working out and being active and being fit weren’t wrong all along?

I sometimes feel that within the body positive/fat acceptance culture, there’s almost an expectation that you shouldn’t want to work out or eat healthily or whatever, because doing so means you must still want to change yourself. And, more specifically, you must still want to be thin. You must still secretly be working towards conforming to society’s standards or whatever. And I know that most people don’t think that way, and it’s not indicative of the entire movement in any way, but I do believe it is a sentiment that exists.

And so I have struggled with the idea of whether or not I’m really, truly, honestly rededicating myself to fitness because I want to, or because I still feel like I need to. Am I honestly doing this because it helps me sleep better and it boosts my energy and it is healthy? Or is it just because it will help me look better?

I guess only time will truly tell since, based on past precedence, we already know that if it’s the latter, this current burst of motivation won’t stick for long. But I do know that it does feel different. I’m not weighing myself. I’m not counting calories. I’m not using food as a reward system. I’m not limiting myself to not buying clothing because I want to wait until I’m smaller, or purposely buying clothes in a smaller size to “motivate” myself.

I’m just loving myself. And as much as I used to only think of it in relation to my weight and size, I know that being active in some form or another is just one more way to love myself. So that my body — curves and flesh and fat and muscles and stomach rolls and ligaments and stretch marks and all — will be around for me to love as long as possible.

The Liberation of Not Trying to Losing Weight

Last night, I hosted an event for Yelp, as I do upon occasion since, y’know, it’s part of my job. This particular event was at Ruth’s Chris, and, as you can imagine, it was thusly VERY awesome. We were treated to an amazing three-course dinner with cocktail pairings from Absolut, and it was just an all-around rockin’ good time.

I definitely enjoyed myself, as I always do whenever food, drinks, and good company is involved, but somewhere between finishing off yet another forkful of garlic mashed potatoes and being served the cutest, most adorable individualized honey-cinnamon cheesecake, I had to pause. And kind of laugh. Because I remembered that once upon a time, I blogged almost exclusively about weight loss.

This photo was actually taken right after Sean stole a bite of my sandwich (THE NERVE!) but I thought it aptly conveyed the right emotion here.

Now, I obviously love my job — it’s pretty much a perfect fit for me. But as you can probably tell, there is not a small amount of socialization, eating, and drinking that comes along with it. Don’t get me wrong, I am most definitely NOT complaining. But it does seem somewhat humorous that, as someone who was, at one point, measuring and tabulating every calorie she consumed, it’s now basically part of my job to eat, drink, and be merry.

 
 

How boss is this set of photos that Ben and Taylor took at last night’s event, btw?! Anyway, I digress.

I just can’t imagine getting the same amount of joy from this position if I was still obsessed with calorie-counting and weighing myself, if I had to force myself to “be good” and sample only one of the cocktails, or if I continually felt bad for eating dessert. I try to place 2012-Gretchen in the shoes of current-Gretchen, and I can still tell that instead of fully enjoying the company of those around me, instead of really getting to taste the food I was eating, I’d be thinking about the impact that the dinner was going to have on my weigh-in.

I’m not saying that the process of weight loss is like that for everyone. But for someone like me, someone who has had a lifelong struggle with her weight and her body, it really is an all-consuming thing. Which is why being in the place that I am now, not overthinking what I eat, not letting my food choices impact my daily self-esteem, feeling more and more comfortable in my own skin, is so, so liberating.

It’s liberating to not be trying to lose weight.

It’s freeing to feel comfortable ordering a sandwich instead of a salad if that’s what I really want.

It’s nice to be able to live my life without religiously plugging things into an app. Without going to bed with a grumbly tummy because I’ve already used up all my calories for the day. Without using language like “Tomorrow I’ll do better,” or “Everybody slips up.”

And remember, just because I’m not actively on a weight loss track doesn’t mean I’m backsliding into binge eating Baconators in secret. It doesn’t mean that my diet is suddenly 90% potatoes (though I would probably be okay with it if it was). It doesn’t mean that I’ve suddenly let myself go, that I don’t care about my health or how I look or how I feel.

It just means that I’ve stopped putting so much pressure on myself to “be good.” Because what the hell does that really mean, anyway? Would I be a better person if I were another 20 pounds lighter? Does it make the world a better place every time I ask for dressing on the side? Am I being a change for good because I’m skipping dessert?

If anything, I’m sure I’m making the world a worse place by not having dessert, because I’m still just me. But I’m me without cheesecake. And that never bodes well for anyone.

I just feel like I am in such a good place in my life right now. I am so happy some days I nauseate even myself. Apart from the whole happy relationship/awesome family/cuddly dogs part of the equation, I’m not doing too bad a job of taking care of myself either. On the days when I’m not being treated to an epic steakhouse smorgasbord, I actually eat pretty well.

I still like vegetables (Brussels sprouts for life!), I still enjoy having variety in my diet, I still like experimenting with new recipes that are fulfilling flavor-wise as well as nutritionally. Granted, I still have to work on continuing to be active, but fitness has ALWAYS been a struggle for me, even when I was dropping pounds like hot cakes.

I’m not saying that I’m never going to be motivated to lose weight again in the future. I mean, I think we all know that if/when a certain piece of jewelry appears in my life, this blog will probably take a rapid redirection yet again, hahaha. And, as you already know, I already went through a couple of attempted re-vamps, and (happily!) I did take down a few of those extra libbies that had creeped back on last year, which I am definitely happy about. I don’t want anyone to mistake my current perspective as an excuse for me to just eat whatever I want and be fat and lazy with abandon. Of course it’s not about that.

I’ve talked a little bit before about how I think the main reason why I lost my zeal for weight loss is because it no longer became something that I wanted to do, but something that I felt I had to do. After all, I built a name for myself blogging about weight loss! It was what I did! It was who I was! And I didn’t want to let anybody down by admitting that I didn’t want to do or be any longer.

I’ve never been particularly good at doing things I don’t want to do — chalk it up to the rebellious youngest child aspect of my upbringing (read: I’m a total brat) — and I honestly feel that if I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself to continue being the Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen-Gretchen to the world, I might not have put as much weight back on as I did. Because I do know that the very worst thing I can do when it comes to my health is try to hide.

Hiding is how I ended up at 246 pounds back in 2010, after all. Eating in secret. Never weighing myself. Only going shopping alone so I never had to tell anyone what size I wore. And it wasn’t until I stopped hiding — literally and figuratively — and announced my weight, size, and habits on the flippin’ interwebs, that things changed.

So it’s the same for me now. I’m not hiding the fact that I’m not interested in losing weight. I’m not shying away from the fact that I’m actually okay with my body and how I look right now, even if some people in the world would rather I still be trying to “fix” myself. I’m not going to love myself in secret.

And if or when I do decide that I’m ready to lose weight again or finally train for that half-marathon or do whatever, I’ll won’t be hiding that either. I’ll be right here, where I’ve always been, sharing my journey with you.