Thank Goodness for Trader Joe’s

I think I may have found a wrench in my “dump everything and move to Boulder as quickly as humanly possible” dream.

I think I'll keep it.

Bailey informed me that there are, in fact, no Trader Joe’s in Colorado! And I’m just not sure how I would cope with that.

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Case in point: yesterday’s grocery shopping extravaganza!

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Left to right: TJ’s white bean & basil hummus, dolmas, fresh mozzerella balls (hehehe… balls.), 2 cans of light coconut milk, jar of peanut sate sauce, can o’ pineapple.

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Jalapeno chicken sausage (yum!), frozen mushroom ravioli (to add to my stash of I-don’t-wanna-cook back-ups in the freezer), bacon ends & pieces (for cooking — much cheaper than whole bacon!), ground turkey breast, chicken breast tenders.

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Kale, sliced mango, brussels sprouts, two limes ($0.39 each!), two kiwis, baby bell peppers (literally the cutest thing ever), mini heirloom tomatoes, and seedless red grapes (tucked behind the tomatoes, you can’t see ’em.)

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Misc: Garlic-infused olive oil, maple syrup, wasabi almonds (!!), whole wheat hot dog buns.

And ALL of that (which really is quite a lot!) for less than $80! I. Love. Trader. Joe’s. After doing my happy-pantry-dance, I got to enjoy this view for the next hour or so:

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BAHAHA. Love you, Reema!

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We went to Sweetwater Tavern, where I indulged just a little much. But if you saw my daily eats from last night, you can kind of tell I had adjusted my day to account for eating out. I just didn’t factor in that I would desperately be needing one of these by the end of the day:

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Hehe. I drank half of their prickly pear frozen marg (which was more than enough for me — is it possible my alcohol tolerance is still in Boulder?) before Reema graciously helped me out.

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I got crab cakes! They were about one-tenth the size of the gargantuan crab cakes I had in Baltimore, but unlike those, Sweetwater’s have like, zero breading on the inside, so you know you’re getting your money’s worth.

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I swapped out the regular fries that came with it for sweet ‘tater ones. Plus cole slaw. Ate it all. Totally delicious, totally worth it.

What’s your favorite going-out-to-eat indulgence?

Sushi’s kind of a no-brainer for me, so I don’t really count it as an answer to this question, haha. So I guess I would say that I love me some crab cakes, and seafood in general will always be my choice. That section of the menu is always the first to jump out at me, hehe. I imagine that most men would probably be a pretty easy guess: STEAK!

I’ll miss you, Boulder. (Weigh-in)

If you’re catching up from the weekend, be sure to catch up on my posts covering my experience in Boulder, CO at the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference!

1. Oh hi, Boulder. I think I love you.
2. Yoga, Mountains, Food, & Deodorant
3. LiveBlogging
4. Mountain Climber

Oh hai there, Eagle!

Waaaaaaaaaah! I want to go back already! I can definitely see how you’d get addicted to the outdoors living out there. Even for me, as a self-proclaimed couch-potato and air conditioning-enthusiast, I just didn’t get enough of the mountains!

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After the conference ended, Casey, Emily, Katie and I all headed to lunch at Zolo, a locally-sourced Mexican/Southwestern restaurant. It was delicious, and they were very accommodating to Casey & Katie’s dietary restrictions which I noticed a LOT of restaurants do in Boulder. It’s definitely the place to go if you have dietary sensitivities or food allergies!

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We shared chips & guac, and I got the tilapia tacos. Delicious!

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I also snagged a bite of Emily‘s goat cheese and poblana breakfast enchilada. Delicious!

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Hi Katie! My apologies for not posting Emily & Casey’s pretty faces up too, but I think they’ll thank me for it later. I got pics of both of them mid-chew, haha!

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After lunch my friend Matt (who moved to Colorado from DC a couple of years ago with his fiancee Jess) picked me up from the hotel and drove me up the side of a mountain so I could take in the sights. He felt bad that I had to miss out on hiking while I was there but I assured him that I would be back and we could climb the mountain the proper way next time. Prepare for photo overload:

Downtown Boulder

I mean, seriously?

University of Colorado - Boulder

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I die.

IMG_9381.jpgIMG_9376.jpgWindy!

It was just a smiiiiidge windy on top of that mountain, haha.

Grizzly Gretchen.

But don’t worry. Grizzly Gretchen conquers all.

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Matty was an excellent tour guide.

Mountain Man

But we missed you, Jess!

Flatirons

After driving up (and consequently, down) the mountain, we also ambled over to Chautauqua, where the Flatirons are (and where the conference hike that I had to miss had ventured.)

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More photo ops!

IMG_9439.jpgI think I'll keep it.
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Boulder

And look who I ran into coming down the mountain!

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It seems that Anne and I just can’t escape each other, because we also ran into each other AGAIN in the security line at the airport. Love it.

The last thing that Matt and I did before he generously drove me to the airport (curse you, Super Shuttle!) was to check out this little art fair that happened to be going on at the 29th Street Mall.

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Sunshine
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Sundial?IMG_9469.jpg

And of course when I did actually get back to DC (at midnight EST, of course), it was raining. And still humid. Le sigh.

Don’t worry, Boulder. I’ll be back someday!

Annnnnd just for posterity’s sake:

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 192.5 lbs
This Weigh-in: 192.0 lbs!!
This Week’s Loss: -0.5 lbs
Total Loss-to-Date: 54 lbs.

Holler! Thanks Boulder, for not only being an amazing place but also helping me lose half a pound! Except I’m pretty sure that the reason I “lost” that half-pound is because my dinner consisted of a mini-Larabar, an Attune probiotic chocolate bar, and a packet of airplane peanuts. Stupid 6:30 PM flight time.

Sidenote: I flew Southwest for the first time, and it was awesome! I kinda dug the whole pick-your-own-seat-thing. And for like, the second time ever I actually sat with really cool people and had real conversations on the plane. If you’re reading this, Hi Kate & Jon!

My final thoughts on the first-ever Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference are this: it was very informative, they selected very good speakers, and they couldn’t have picked a more perfect location to host it, but in comparison to Fitbloggin’ I felt it was less social and targeted to a bit of a different attendee audience. I was admittedly a little intimidated by all of the personal trainers and fitness and nutrition professional in attendance (as opposed to health/wellness bloggers with other full-time professions) and definitely felt self-conscious about my fitness level in comparison to the majority of the attendees. All in all though, it was obviously a great conference, and I learned a ton. Look forward to many more inspired posts to come!

Yoga, Mountains, Food, & Deodorant

Yup. Most random blog post title ever. But believe me — all of these things are absolutely relevant, and it’s been less than 24-hours into the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference! Things have already been a whirlwind of education, activity, and excitement! I’ll try to keep this succinct, but be forewarned that Colorado is kind of beautiful. So, you know. I’ve been taking a lot of pictures.

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You probably understand why. 🙂

So after yesterday’s opening keynote speech, the sessions included talks on working with companies & PR firms as a blogger, as well as hearing from two bloggers that have successfully parlayed their blogs into books! Both very interesting, and very educational. In the true spirit of this being a fitness & health bloggers’ conference though, things were broken up with a sweet little fitness break:

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And after the sessions the whole group walked over to Whole Foods Boulder for a special dinner they prepared just for us!

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Heather, Anne, and Theodora were more than happy to pose for pics on the way. 🙂

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And they served up quite the feast! Since so many of the conference attendees have special dietary needs and preferences, the meal was completely vegan — and totally delicious!

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Strawberry Gazpacho Shooters

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Tofu Spring Rolls wrapped in Bok Choi

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Cucumber-wrapped Salads

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Roasted sweet potatoes and cheese-less grilled pizzas

And for dessert…

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Some kind of cashew cream-lemon-mousse-something-DELICIOUSNESS.

After our meal we popped inside the Whole Foods building to pick up some libations…

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And showcase Theodora’s inappropriate love for kombucha.

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Don’t worry folks. Most of the time she looks much more like this:

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BAHAHAHA.

Then it was back to the hotel for the opening night cocktail party! I’ll give you one guess who the sponsor was.

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Yup! Degree Women deodorant — see? It all comes full-circle, hahaha. Don’t worry, I didn’t walk out of there with those deodorants. Not all of them anyway… kekeke.

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Guess they didn’t get the memo about what kind of conference this is, hahaha! Don’t worry, I stuck to the fruit plate:

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And about a quarter of this local beer (too hoppy for me!)

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Before I totally passed out at around 10 PM. In my defense, I’d been up since 6:30, and it was midnight on the east coast! Besides, my alarm was set super early for…

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7 AM yoga taught by Kia,

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Concierge lounge breakfast (thanks again, Papa!) with LOX! Mmmm.

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And an early morning photoshoot… I can’t help it! It’s just so beautiful here!

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I hope everyone else’s weekend is going as well! Now it’s time for me to sign off so I can actually pay attention to this next session on social media, which we already know is something I am super interested in!

Blogtasrophe! (Weigh-in)

AND WE’RE BACK!

In case you couldn’t hear my screams of anguish echoing over the blogosphere, something was very wrong with my blog today. I was unable to log-in to my blog client, couldn’t post all weekend, couldn’t post all day, it looked all nutty and plain-texty and well… to sum it up, my poor blog-baby was sick. And I was sad and angry and distraught, and it was all directed at the internet as a whole, hahaha. But! Thanks to my amazing brother/webmaster, it’s back and… better than ever? Well, that’s not true, because I’m still working through some issues. But hopefully it works for now.

So that at least explains why this post is coming so very, very late, and it’s coming with (hopeful) brevity because, you know, of that I promise that a real post with hilariousness and complete dog overload will be up bright & early tomorrow — in case you missed out on the tweets and Facebook photos showcasing the dogs’ pool adventures and my sister’s new puppy! Oh, and there may be pictures of me in a swimsuit too. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So, without further adieu here is my weekend from Friday to Sunday, centered around a trip to Delaware to visit Steve for his birfday before coming back to celebrate my wonderful Papa, in pictures. Of food. Hehe.

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Taco Taco Taco!

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'Roon

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Localvore

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So there you have it! Lots of delicious food (and this wasn’t all of it, but them’s the highlights fo’ sho’.) Steve and I went to this cute little place called Beseme in Lewes, DE to celebrate his birthday dinner.

Happy Birfday!

It was really delicious, but the service was unfortunately super slow. Oh well, it is a beach town, I guess. Gotta go with the flow, haha. Then when I returned on Sunday, we celebrated Papa’s Day at a manly restaurant for my manly papa: Outback Steakhouse.

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Happy (now belated) Father’s Day, Daddy! 🙂

Oh right, that pesky little thing that happens every Monday. Sigh, bring on the weigh-in. Okay, no drawing it out, here you go:

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 194.0 lbs
This Weigh-in: 192.5 lbs!!
This Week’s Loss: -1.5 lbs
Total Loss-to-Date: 53.5 lbs.

HUZZAH!

C’mon now, that’s pretty impressive considering all the previously listed decadent weekend food, no? So at least this thus far thoroughly emotionally-and-physically exhausting Monday has been made better by a very nice little bit of weight loss. It’s the small victories, y’know? Hopefully I’m just a hop, skip, and a week or two away from… holy crap. I don’t even think I can say it out loud. It’s just so crazy to think that I could ever actually hit… the 180s!

AHHH! That’s almost like, an acceptable weight! Hahaha. Don’t worry folks, we can celebrate tomorrow, when I announce the winner of my Popchips giveaway! So make sure you get your final entries in toniiiiight!

The Big Apple: Part I

Really, I should be titling these posts “The Weekend That Gretchen Didn’t Eat Any Vegetables” or just “The Weekend that Gretchen Ate Her Weight in French Fries”, but I decided to go with something a little simpler. That’s right, folks! I’m back from New York City and had an amaaaazing weekend with Steve exploring the city, quenching my nerdtastic love for Harry Potter & Broadway all at once.

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Oh my gosh, where to start, where to start… so much happened in this one little weekend. Phew! So I guess I start at the beginning, eh? Steve and I took Friday off of work to hit the road (we took the Bolt Bus – $17 each way!) We checked into our hotel (the Residence Inn Times Square) and immediately set off to explore the city a little before meeting up with some of Steve’s friends later on like we had planned.

We walked and walked, down past Union Square and into St. Mark’s Place. We had our eyes set on a couple of the restaurant recommendations that you amazing people gave me! First up: S’mac:

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This tiny little hole-in-the-wall is dedicated completely and solely to mac ‘n’ cheese. Awesome, right? I opted for the Napoletana, which had fresh mozzerella, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and fresh basil. Sound familiar?

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It. Was. Amazing. Steve opted for the Cheeseburger mac, which was also delicious but I think mine was the star. They have sizes that range from “Nosh” to “Partay!” (love the names) and I’m so glad we went with the Nosh. It may be the smallest size offered, but it is more than enough cheesy goodness.

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After sating our appetite a bit with that, we had to move onto the second place on our list, which was conveniently located right around the corner. Pomme Frites!

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Like S’mac is a tribute to the great art of mac ‘n’ cheese, Pomme Frites does the same for the classic french fry. Belgian fries, to be exact!

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They have a list of about a gajillion different dipping sauces for your fries, and various sizes you can get. Steve and I split an order of the smallest size and opted to try the sweet mango chutney mayo (my fave by far!), the roasted garlic mayo (Steve’s pick – good, but VERY mayo-y), and the horseradish mayo (super strong on the horseradish.)

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There was some regular ol’ ketchup in there somewhere too, and I was a very happy bear.

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And so began what would end up being an entire weekend of absolutely atrocious eating habits. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty! Well, I guess I feel a little bit guilty. But it was still totally worth it. 🙂

After getting our noms on, we met up with Steve’s friend Greg and his girlfriend Ellen to head over to Brooklyn for the opening reception of an art show at a sweet little studio, Cotton Candy Machine. Steve is friends with artist Brian Ewing, so it was really cool to meet him, as well as the other artists there!

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I walked away with the following t-shirt:

Cotton Candy Machine T-shirt

And felt so cultured and hip! So of course, in order to balance that out, we had to go see a superhero movie afterward, hahaha.

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For the record, X-Men: First Class was awesome. It was so well done. I think I may have liked it better than the first and the second X-Men movies, actually… and I obviously thought it was far, far, faaaar better than the third, haha. It was so good. The thing that wasn’t so good? Actually having to see the calorie counts of movie theatre food:

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Nuts, right? Didn’t stop me from getting a hot dog anyway though… oops. I really think it’s great that they post this info though. Especially given this little nugget of informational gold in particular:

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An additional 760 calories for extra cheese!? On top of an already ludicrous 1390 calories, just for nachos? The nacho servings at movie theatres aren’t even that big! Yeesh.

And after the movie got out at like 1:30 in the morning (staying out later than I have in a loooong time — in true New York fashion, haha!) we hit the hay, knowing that we’d have to have our energy for the following day. I had Broadway tickets to score, and Harry Potter exhibits to geek out over, after all! But you guys’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the next chapter in this epic weekend’s story.

Also, to answer the question that is probably forming in your mind right now, I have made the executive decision not to weigh in this week. Or at least, not to weigh in today. I might do a little spot-check later in the week, but I just really want to try to ride the high from my awesome weekend as long as possible, and I know it will only be bad news bears. So! Judge me if you want, but it’s happening. Or rather, not happening. Heh.

Okay, okay. So you will have to tune in tomorrow for the full update on our second day of New York adventures. But! I will give you the following sneak peek of exactly what said day entailed (in case you didn’t already see my Tweets and Facebook updates about it! Hehe!)

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Yeaaaaaah roooooooyyyy! See you tomorrow for all the deets! 😉