Panda’s Gettin’ Married!

Oh, hey.

This is awkward.

Two weeks, huh? I guess I probably should’ve called. Or at least texted. I mean, it’s OCTOBER already, for cryin’ out loud! My bad.

It’s not you, I swear. It’s all me. After my last long, declarative, overly verbose post, I really did intend to come back to blog again the very next day. And when that didn’t happen, I meant to come back the day after that. And, well, here we are, two weeks later.

But the good news is, that kind of statement USED to be reserved for making excuses as to why I didn’t go to the gym. And for, like, the first time in my life, that hasn’t been necessary. I’ve been maintaining a pretty regular gym schedule for the past couple of weeks actually, and I think it’s already paying off! My clothes are fitting a little bit better and, more importantly, I’m feeling pretty dandy too. So hooray!

Alas, though, the past few days have been woefully absent of any fitness activity. Or any activity at all, really, except for slowly dying in my bed. And sometimes on the couch. I’ve been crazy sick since the weekend, and it hasn’t been fun. My throat feels like I basically swallowed a razor blade, I’ve been running a temperature for the first time since high school, and just the simple act of going up or down the stairs has made me feel totally wiped out.

Soooo yeah, not so great. And since my beautiful sister and Mia are coming up to visit tomorrow (I know, it seems like I I just went to visit them, but this is why life is amazing!) I’ve been trying to get on the fast-track back to health. Lots of green tea, water, drugs, schnauzer cuddles, and REST. I am feeling much improved today (although it does still hurt to swallow), and hopefully this is the last bit of it.

Anyway, so that also has contributed to the distinct lack of blog-age this week, which was especially lame because I actually, miraculously had something to blog about! On Saturday (before I realized I was truly down-and-out sick), I attended my good friend Amanda’s bridal shower.

And because she is already oh-so-aware that I am that friend I took a few obnoxious photos while I was there!

Of course, as with most things, this is mostly a thinly veiled excuse for me to show off my new dress to those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram. Isn’t it pretty? $40 at Nordstrom Rack, baby!


Amanda’s bridesmaids threw a beautiful shower that was perfectly themed around her. Not only were there classic Bridal Shower games like toilet paper bridal gown making and “How Well Do You Know the Groom?” trivia (complete with video-recorded responses from her fiance!), but there was also one that I would ONLY ever get to experience at a party for Amanda, who is a huuuuuge history nerd. I mean, history buff.


Yep, there was Presidential Trivia at this shower. Well, First Lady Trivia, to be specific. Suffice it to say, I did not do great on this challenge. In my defense though, they didn’t exactly make it easy on us! There was not one single “Jacqueline,” “Michelle,” “Hillary,” or “Barbara” on there.

I tried not to be too obnoxious with my camera during present-time, so I only snapped a couple pics as Amanda opened my gift, which was OBVIOUSLY a wok set. I mean, c’mon.

In addition to adorable and delicious-smelling candles (pumpkin-scented!) as our bridal favors, we each got to go home with our own chalkboard champagne glass as well. Such a great idea! I gotta remember to Pin that after this is posted, hahaha.



So there you have it: definitive proof that I still have some semblance of a life outside of Yelp, hahaha. Hopefully by the end of today I’ll be back in tip-top shape health-wise and will have even more fun stuff to report on throughout the next week! And if by some unlucky circumstance another couple of weeks goes by between now and when I see you again, just remember: it’s not you, it’s definitely, definitely me.

And remember: if nothing else, I am almost certain to be back here on Friday, if not solely to express what I’m sure will be CONSIDERABLE FEELINGS after watching the season premiere of Vampire Diaries tomorrow night. OMG I AM SO EXCITED OK BYE.

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.

Lingual Braces: Weeks 2 & 3

So after my initial bitching session post about what having my new lingual braces is like, I feel it’s probably time that I update you on how I’m doing with them now.

Not surprisingly, just a few days after I spent like 1000 words complaining about how much my tongue hurt, my teeth hurt, and how miserable I was, things got much, much better. My tongue did indeed get used to the metal and is no longer hurting. My lisping is like 800% better (in my opinion), and really the only thing that still catches me are my S’s. But I’m definitely getting used to it, and some folks tell me that they can’t really notice… though I don’t really believe them, hahaha.

My teeth also have stopped hurting, some of them just still feel loose — which is admittedly a semi-scary feeling, because even though logically I know that my teeth aren’t going to fall out of my head, I had a dream that they did and now it’s like all I can think about. Also, biting into stuff still isn’t as easy as it used to be, though I can eat most things without too much incident (no gum or caramels or biting into apples still though).) It’s just mostly annoying because stuff gets stuck in there really easily – especially rice and stringy things like cooked onions. Also, sandwiches are still a bit of a challenge… which is super sad because I loooove sandwiches. Womp womp.

But all in all, things have really turned around almost 180*, so I am no longer hating the world and regretting this decision. Huzzah! Since it’s only been a couple of weeks I can’t see any kind of difference yet, but hopefully when I go back to the ortho in a couple of weeks he’ll have an estimate of how long it’ll really take to get my chompers nice and straight — since the only timeline I’ve been given so far is the very specific prediction of “probably less than a year.”

I have my first wire adjustment the second week of March, so I’ll be back to update you again on how things are feeling after that!

Eggs & Lightning

As you may already suspect based on the title of this post, this is very likely to end up as a bit of a haphazard and non-sequiter post. But seeing as how it’s been quite a few days since my last post, and I find myself slipping dangerously into non-blogging mode, I figured I’d at least update you on a few things.

So, obviously Valentine’s Day was Friday. Let’s talk about that. Sean took me to Me Jana, a lebanese restaurant in Arlington, and dinner was delicious – you probably know very well by now that I love sharing food! So tapas, mezze, small plates, family-style dining, sushi… anything sharable is pretty much the key to my heart. I know, I know. I’m sure that some of you are shaking your heads at me talking about yet another occasion where I went out to eat and indulged, and I’d totally come up with some sort of justification or provide my reasoning (which is basically just that it was Valentine’s Day, duh) but ehhhh, at this point, what am I really gonna say?

I’m always gonna go out to eat, I’m always gonna want to celebrate occasions at restaurants. But I promise, I really am learning. I mean, sure, there was not a small amount of cheese involved in dinner that night, as well as a glass of delicious and sweet white wine sangria, but aside from that I was actually quite restrained and ate relatively well. Seared scallops, a salad with salmon on it, I resisted the siren call of the pita bread basket (well, I mostly resisted it)… really I think I did quite well! Snaps for me, hehe.

The other bonus points for the evening, of course, come from the fact that it was the perfect occasion to wear my latest Stitch Fix acquisition:

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I really love the wrap dress that I was sent in my box this month — the neckline is kind of vintage/forties-inspired, and the pattern is like part-chevron, part-Mike & Ike. Plus it went perfectly with the Seychelles heart shoes that have been hanging in my closet, yearning for their V-day release.

ANYWAY, back to the food thing: Aside from Valentine’s Day dinner, as well as a late-night post-Valentine’s dinner grocery store run to get dessert which resulted in me purchasing two things of Lunchables, I’ve actually been feeling pretty good on the food front! I’m really into eggs lately, which is semi-weird for me, because I used to hate eggs (except the fried egg sandwich that only my mom knows how to make perfectly, of course). But I pretty much throw an egg on errrrverything now, which is an amazing way to turn any kind of leftovers into breakfast food, by the way. I’m really not sure why I went so long living without thinking of breakfast pasta.

It actually really works out that pretty much every time I wander into the kitchen looking for something to eat, I just end up putting a bird an egg on it, since eggs are good for you (protein!), crazy easy to make (microwaved egg sandwich, anyone?), and easy to fit into my daily intake (70 calories per egg).

The protein thing is particularly important, since I am basically clawing my eyes out trying to maintain a good protein ratio in my diet. Even on days when I feel like I’ve eaten really balanced meals, my protein percentage is still at like… 20%. I don’t get it! Aside from having like an entire steak for dinner every night, I don’t know what else I can do to increase my protein ratio. Aside from, well, eating less carbs to lower that part of the formula, I guess…. hahahahahaha. Please. C’mon, serious suggestions only.

Other updates from this past weekend include starting and, subsequently, finishing my newest video game — Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. (Just in case you guys forgot, I am a HUGE nerd.) And I somewhat suspect that all that binge-playing may have had something to do with my other news, which is that I changed my hair color… again. And I did it aaaall by myself this time.

Don’t tell my hairdresser.

Lol, JK, he already knows because we are friends on Facebook and there is obviously no way I can prevent myself from posting every single thing I do on social media. He said it looks good. 🙂 Anyway, it’s kind of hard to see with the bad bathroom lighting, but I bleached the purple out of my hair (bye for now! I’ll be back!) and now it’s a super pastel, soft pink. Just like Lightning.

Going about dyeing my hair on my own this time was very interesting, incredibly educational, and SUPER scary. This is probably deserving of a longer post at some point, but suffice it to say that I had no idea what bleaching the already bleached-then-purpled parts of my hair would do. Well, as it turns out, putting bleach on already bleached hair, even if it has color over it, takes like half a second to get it back to the pre-colored blonde. Seriously, it seemed like the SECOND I put the bleach over my lengths, the color lifted out. Which kind of made me freak out, because I didn’t want my hair to snap and fall out from being over-bleached, so I ended up washing it out after only like 10 or 15 minutes, and so my roots only lightened a tiny bit. But oh well — consider my lesson learned! #themoreyouknow

Aaaanyway, and that about catches us up! In addition to a post on the necessary magic needed to dye yourself some pastel locks, I also owe you an update about how my lingual braces are going (they are MUCH, much, much, much, much better), as well as some exciting things that will be happening soon for my job. Plus, you know, all the regular weight loss stuff and pictures of my food and definitely some humblebragging about how many times I made it to the gym this week (twice so far!). So, you know, good stuff ahead… stay tuned!

Winners and Losers (Weigh-in)

Today has been kind of nutso on the work front, with me dashing into DC for a meeting and then settling into House of Steep in Arlington (my new favorite place evarrrrr!) for the rest of the afternoon to work with my coworkers, but I wanted to pop in and give you a quick update nonetheless.

First up, I have the winners of the Cooking with Greek Yogurt cookbook giveaway! As plucked out of the lineup by my random giveaway winner plugin, let us congratulate…

Jen Mitchell: I like to make a breakfast parfait with plain Greek yogurt, fruit, and some cereal. Boring but it sticks with me all morning.

AND

April: I use plain greek yogurt in my mac and cheese. It makes it really creamy and adds some protein. So good!

Whoop whoop! Congrats ladies! Email me your full name and address — [email protected]!

So there’s the “winners” portion of this update, so let’s move right onto the “loser” half, shall we?

(Re)Starting Weight: 236.6 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 231.0
This Weigh-in: 230.7 lbs
Difference: -0.3 lbs

Alas. While yes, technically that’s still a loss, I have to admit I’m pretty disappointed. Aside from my anniversary dinner on Saturday, I was under my calorie goals every day this week! In fact, due to my new braces and inability to eat, my calorie counts have been looking especially impressive over the past few days.

See?!

Blargh. I know that weight loss isn’t an exact equation and there are lots of different factors and blah blah blah, but I’m still disappointed. I was really just hoping to keep the momentum going. After all, how am I supposed to win Yelp’s Biggest Loser with 0.3 pound totals?!

Aaaaanyway, there’s no point in dwelling. I’m just going to move on, keep on doing what I’m doing, pray that I’ll be able to eat solid foods again soon, and blame this mood-dampening weigh-in on my period.