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Posted on Mar 23, 2011 in Dear Diary, Weight Loss, Weight Loss 101 | 17 comments

Weight Loss 101: Where to Begin

Since I’ve started my weight loss journey, I’ve received a lot of questions from friends and family about my methods. Questions about what program I’m on, what miracle diet I must be undertaking, or what magic pill I’m popping (oh goodness how I wish there were a magic pill.) It’s gotten me thinking that rather than solely use this blog as a means to extol my daily activities and meals, I’ll try to be at least somewhat educational as well. I know that I give an overview of my methods on my Goals & Progress page, but it’s not really a place to get information for where to go next if you’re looking to further educate yourself on healthy living.

The other day I received an email from my coworker asking the following question:

“Do you have a website or blog you could recommend on nutrition? I want to be knowledgeable!”

After responding to her email, I decided to use the list of resources I sent her as a basis for this post. These have been proving instrumental to my health and weight-loss success thus far. I’m thinking that I may try to turn this into a kind of Health 101 series if I keep getting questions about things and if people are still interested in hearing it!

*Disclaimer: I am not a professional nutritionist, registered dietician, or medical doctor. All following information is simply based off of my own experience and research in attempting to live a healthier life.

Where to Begin

So the majority of your life has been spent ordering take-out and your best friend is the guy who mans the drive-thru window of your local Wendy’s? You’re in the right place.

So you’re a seasoned dieter who has consisted for years on Diet Dr. Pepper and Lean Cuisine frozen dinners? You’re in the right place.

So you’re a disordered eater, with vague concepts of health and nutrition but feel unable to translate that knowledge into real-world application? You are definitely in the right place.

And even if you’re a health nut, nutrition expert, and just looking to brag about your already rad skillz, you’re in the right place (even if only to elaborate on what I’m trying to say!)

It all begins with your story. How you came to be where you are, and what made you decide to change.

facebook fat pic 1

March 2010

My Story

When I made the decision in August 2010 to lose weight, I was all of the above (save for the whole knowledgeable health nut part of the equation, haha.) I was caught in a vicious cycle of binge eating and deprivation, living off of junk food and processed frozen diet dinners, diet sodas and desserts. I dabbled in bulimia, never exercised, was depressed, unhappy, and unmotivated. I was sitting not-so-pretty at 246 pounds, which even at 5’9″ is way, way, way too much. I was unwilling to admit that I had expanded into wearing size 18 jeans and showed no signs of stopping.

facebook fat pic 2

April 2010

While I did have a specific moment where I finally decided that I was going to, once and for all, get healthy and lose weight, it didn’t come as the result of seeing an unflattering photo (I have many) or a comment from a crude observer or concerned friend (had plenty of those, too.) It was just like one morning, it clicked. I was fat. I was unhealthy. Each day I went on living that way, I was putting myself at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, joint, muscle, and bone problems, and the list goes on. So, I decided at that very moment that I was going to start this blog so I couldn’t wimp out like I had in all my past diet attempts, and that was that.

facebook fat face

I knew that this time had to be different. I had tried it all, literally: Atkins, South Beach, Slimfast, diet pills, cabbage soup – you name it, I’ve probably tried it. And each time I lost any weight, I gained it all back and more in the end. So I knew that this time just HAD to be different. And while my motivation might have been slightly different, in the beginning my means and methods really weren’t. I still started out with nothing on my mind but calorie counting, which was most easily achieved by buying pre-portioned things like “100 calorie snack-packs and the aforementioned Lean Cuisine frozen meals. I still wasn’t exercising with any regularity (though let’s be honest, I’m still not, hahahaha.) While the weight was coming off regardless, I still wasn’t feeling that much better – physically, emotionally, etc.

So I dove in to trying to figure out what it really meant to try to lose weight “the right way.” And I turned to the following resources in an attempt to broaden my nutritional knowledge and figure out where to start:

Do Your Research

1. http://eatright.org: the website for the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

This website is a wealth of information about healthy living, nutrition, and just how to get started in general. If you’re ever interested in pursuing a career as a nutritionist or dietitian, this is where you want to go as well.

2. http://fannetasticfood.com: the food and fitness blog written by Anne P., my sister’s high school bestie and aspiring registered dietitian.

Anne’s blog was the first healthy living blog I started to read and what ultimately inspired the creation of Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! She has tons of easy-to-navigate recipes (including ideas for 5-minute packable lunches that I have found instrumental in making healthy eating at work feasible!)

3. http://caloriecount.about.com, http://calorieking.com, http://dailyburn.com, etc.: a calorie counting website.

While I don’t count calories as strictly anymore (though maybe I should be, since perhaps that’s been a reason I’ve struggled to get through my recent plateau!) in the beginning it was especially crucial for me to really log my specific caloric intake. That way, I knew exactly how to portion out caloric intake throughout the day. There are plenty of great calorie counting websites out there, I just randomly chose Calorie Count and also downloaded their mobile app to my iPhone to help me track calories easily on the go (they also have a great forum to get inspiration from / questions answered!)

On the road again

There are tons more websites and personal blogs dedicated to live lives that are healthy and happy, so I encourage you to also check out my Blogroll and find some other means of encouragement and education out there. Also, if you’re not on my blogroll but would like to be, just let me know! I often forget to update it when I start reading new blogs… this is a good reminder. 🙂

I wish that I had done more research in the beginning of my weight loss journey on proper nutrition and balanced eating, but I’m trying to catch up now. I started off dieting the only way I knew how – with processed, sodium-laden “quick fix” frozen meals that ultimately don’t leave you satisfied. In future posts, I hope to dive into further detail on the components of my diet, how I’ve gone from complete couch potato to 5K completionist (pretty sure that’s not a real word, but I’m rolling with it), and showcasing other resources (including books and movies) that have contributed to me making the diet and lifestyle choices that I currently am.

Where to?

January 2011

I know it may seem overwhelming when you think about overhauling your entire lifestyle in an attempt to get healthier. Which is why the purpose of this series will be to show you that you can take it one step at a time. Do your research first, start educating yourself, and we can slowly begin implementing changes next. 🙂

Hoooo boy! This has been a lot longer than I anticipated. I’ll leave you for now, but if you have any questions or suggestions for specific areas of knowledge that you’re interested in learning more about, please leave a comment and I will get to it in future posts. Like I said before, I’m hoping to turn this information into a series that covers all the how-tos of starting to live a life that’s happy, healthy, and free!

‘Til next time! 🙂


  1. First off, I’m glad you’re starting this series- I think of myself as on the slightly more educated side of nutrition things but I’m always happy to learn more! Secondly, Daxter was like, the most adorable itsy bitsy puppy ever. Ok. That’s it 🙂

    • I know, isn’t it hard to believe he was ever that tiny?!

  2. I’m honored to have been included as such an inspiration! I’m so proud of you for how far you’ve come and I think this weight loss series is a great idea to help others who aren’t sure where to start get on the right track themselves!

    If there’s anything I can do to help you as you continue your journey – just let me know! 🙂

    • You ARE an inspiration, Annie! While I doubt even when I get to my healthiest I’ll ever be as fast or just plain awesome as you, it’s always great to have someone to strive after. 🙂

  3. So phenomenal to see those old pics and really see how much you have changed!!! You seriously look so amazing Gretch. I am so proud of you!!!!

  4. It IS an amazing reminder of how much you have achieved in the past eight months! The journey continues and I am very proud of you!!

  5. Great post Gretchen! I look forward to reading the rest of them in the future!

  6. I think I spy a blue cup from a certain Tysons area company in that one picture!

  7. I’m just starting off, & I *have* been eating a lot of pre-made frozen meals (“healthy” ones, like Amy’s Light or Healthy Choice). I actually do find that they leave me satisfied, & I’ve found a few I really like, by a few people have commented that I’m never going to lose weight if I stick to them. I just figured that for someone who doesn’t like or really know how to cook, I’m doing better to start this way than I eat Kraft mac & cheese all the time… and I hope I’ll be able to ease myself into fresher foods…

    What do you think? Is this the wrong mindset?

    • No, I think this is definitely the right mindset to begin with, if you don’t already like cooking. I started this way too! I ate a lot of processed foods because they made it super easy to count the calories and I was really lazy, haha. After time though, I did find they weren’t leaving me feeling as satisfied or making me feel that great, even though I was still losing weight that way. I think it’s definitely a process, and after a while you’ll probably want to start exploring cooking and fresher foods since it does become boring just eating frozen stuff all the time.

      • Thanks for the quick response! I’ve been trying to do one frozen meals a day & one fresh meal a day (or leftovers, or whatever, as I live alone) – so today, I had Amy’s veggie lasagna for lunch & then made quinoa with red peppers & broccoli for dinner. I think this will help me ease into healthy eating & not end up being hateful about having to cook all the time when being fat is so, well, easy. Ha.

  8. Yay someone trying to help.

    I to have started a weight loss blog/articles to try and help people, but from the other side of the picture. I’ll try to tell people what I seen my fiance go through and what she did.

  9. Good article. For a weight loss plan to be truly effective
    you must have a system of small, barely noticeable steps that you can incorporate into your busy life.It absolutely cannot overwhelm your life or you wan’t stick to it.

  10. Great article and the links are very helpful for beginners, however I don’t think those .about websites are very accurate or reliable.

    Oh, and that article on disorder eating really connected with me… it’s great to know I’m not the only one out there that eats when I’m bored haha.

  11. Amazing Post! I like this site very much.Really your post is helped me greatly.Your creative written is reminded me. I also write blog about wight loss with Videos check it out –



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