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Posted on Apr 13, 2011 in Dear Diary | 25 comments

What’s Your Spring Celebration Announcement? (GIVEAWAY!)


This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly as part of the Clever Girl Collective.


Birthdays always get me nostalgic. I think that turning another year older just gets those memory wheels a-turning, and I’ve found myself thinking about past birthdays a lot these past few days. I don’t have a ton of happy memories of this time last year, to be honest. I wasn’t in a particularly happy place then, so it makes sense. But it makes me a little sad now to think of what a sad state things were in then. Aside from getting Daxter around this same time last year, things weren’t really so great.

Early April 2010

A year ago, I was very overweight. I was stuck in a job that made me absolutely miserable and had little else going on in my life so I took out my anger and frustration the only way I knew how: on my body. I stuffed my stomach full of fat-laden fast foods and sugary sweets on a regular basis, channel surfed as my sole form of exercise, and was honestly pretty depressed. Things only got worse from there, too: Steve and I went through a fairly serious hiccup in our relationship over the summer, a 12-week oldย Daxter had a freak accident and spent 3 days in an oxygen cage at the Doggy ICU (he very nearly died), and I started withdrawing from friends and social events. Even causes for celebration, like Mothers Day and my best friend’s wedding, were not the joyous occasions they should have been. In photos I might have been smiling, but each experience was tainted by unhealthy living and my poor self-image (and frankly, poor physical image, too. I was at least 75 pounds overweight, for cryin’ out loud!)

Mother’s Day 2010

Bethany‘s Wedding, May 2010

It’s been one year since then, and it’s been even less time than that since I began this weight loss journey and took control of my health (and my life!) In this one measly little year, things have turned around completely. I feel like my life has taken a 180, and the 50 pounds I’ve dropped since then are honestly just gravy!

January 2011 – Cruise Vacation

When I try to answer the question, “What’s Your Spring Celebration Announcement?”, I realize that I can’t even identify a singular thing I’d want to announce, because there are just so many! You would all be getting about a trillionย announcement cards, celebrating everything from the average third-grader I’ve lost in weight to the healthy relationships I’m in with the boyf, my family, my friends and, arguably most importantly, my self.

My 22nd birthday atย Zaytina with my family last year.


Celebrating my 23rd birthday at Founding Farmers this past Monday!

I am so happy to know that in the future when I’m looking back at photos from this year’s birthday celebration, I will be able to remember being legitimately happy. Because I am, right now, really, truly happy. And while my journey isn’t quite over yet, I feel like I already have so much to celebrate!


I know it sounds super cheesy, but I honestly am so excited at the thought of being able to chronicle my journey in a photo book. My sister has made some really awesome photo books in the past with wedding photos, vacation photos, and one year she did one as a Mothers Day present for my mama. It has been my intention from the beginning to do the same thing with my weight loss journey once I get to the end.

This process, this lifestyle change I’m embracing, I don’t want to forget it. I don’t want to forget the low points because they were instrumental in bringing me to my current high point! Photo books are a fantastic, tangible way to see memories, progress, and change. And it’s not like I don’t have a plethora of photographic evidence of this journey to utilize, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ The fun news for you is… that I want one of you amazing readers to be able to do the same!! Welcome to my very first giveaway EVARRRRRR!

Giveaway: Win a free 8×8″ hardboundย photo book fromย Shutterfly!

Create your own personal hardbound celebration of something momentous happening in your life this Spring! Are you graduating this May? (Graduation Announcements) Or do you have a little Spring bun in the oven perhaps? (Not that I’m biased or anything, but April babies are the BEST!) (Birth Announcements) Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve simply gone through a lot of personal growth. Don’t shortchange yourself — that is most definitely a serious cause for celebration!!

There are three ways you can enter (do all 3 for more chances to win!):

1. Leave a comment telling me what you’re celebrating this Spring!
2. Tweet about this giveaway, then comment that you tweeted! Be sure to link my Twitter handleย ย and back to this post! Here’s an example you can to copy/paste:ย Check out this giveaway from @shrinkinggretch and enter for your chance to win a photo book from #shutterfly!ย http://tinyurl.com/3n2krat
3. If you have a blog, post about this giveaway to your readers, then comment with the URL. If you don’t have a blog, you can still have a third entry by sharing on Facebook. Be sure to comment and let me know you did!

You can do any one of these things, or all three if you like! I will be selecting a winner via random number generator on Friday, April 15th.

Are you a blogger, too? Click here to register for a chance at 50 free announcements!

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Eeeee! This is so fun! ๐Ÿ˜€


  1. This is an amazing idea! I love the thought of documenting your journey in a photobook. I have a few photobooks of my young daughter–they make great gifts for grandparents–and I love seeing the progression even of a few months.

    You do look so much happier now. Congrats!

  2. Gretchen I love that you have so much to celebrate! That is wonderful!

    I love those photo books and I’d love to make one with our wedding photos (which are just sitting on a dvd, I only printed out a few so far!)

    What I’m celebrating this Spring: being healthy, having a great job and enjoying life with Jason!

  3. I heart photo albums- if you’re like me and don’t print out photos, they just sit out there in cyberspace. So photo albums are a great way to organize them into something you can enjoy- just pick them up, flip through and relive the memories! I think i’m inspired to do another one now ๐Ÿ™‚ I am celebrating… less stress at work.

  4. So happy to hear all of the positivity in your life now! As you have said many times, your weight loss journey isn’t just about changing how you look on the outside, but about how you treat yourself (except, you say it so much better).
    This spring, I will be celebrating the arrival of my niece. I’m so unbelievably excited! You know me well enough also to know that this soon-to-arrive little girl will have a bijillion photos and HD videos taken of her from yours truly. Oh, how the entire family is waiting with excitement!

  5. Great post- happiness is so refreshing!
    This Spring I am celebrating being accepted to graduate school in Seattle! I am from Missouri, so preparing for a big move this summer/fall is quite exciting and cause for celebration, I’d say. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Wow, Gretchen what a struggle you have been through but I can honestly say that from reading your posts (other than this one of course) and seeing the joyful person you’ve become that I can’t even begin to imagine you being how you used to be. What a complete 180 you’ve done in your life. Praise God!
    I too am celebrating something very similar to your celebration. Last Spring I was overweight, didn’t have a full-time job and was working 2-4 part-time jobs at a time, and was a “Christian”. This Spring, I am at least 30 lbs lighter than I was before (still a little bit to go), I have a full-time job with a 30 minute commute (Thank God!!), and I am closer to God than I ever have been. He’s brought me through so much this past year, good and TERRIBLE times but those terrible times are what He used to grow me and to start scraping away all of the bad stuff I had/have in my life. Is everything finally resolved and great right now? No. But I’m happier than I’ve ever been knowing that no matter what comes my way Jesus is by my side holding me up, carrying me or simply walking with me ๐Ÿ™‚ As one of my favorite songs says “I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead. Here to declare to You, my past is over. In You all things are made new, surrendered my life to Christ”

  7. I’m celebrating the amazing spring weather, that I am strong, happy, and healthy, and that I’m about to finish my first year of graduate school! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great post – awesome to see how far you have come. xo

  8. Great idea on the Photo Book!

  9. Congratulations on all your successes! I love how happy you are now. I hope the rest of the year continues to be FAB for you..

  10. Gretchen – you’ve come SO far! Congratulations girl! Not only are big changes happening on the outside for the world to see, but changes are occurring inside, which is most important! Glad we get to hear your heart through all of this!

    I’m celebrating a few things: beginnings of “healthier living,” the growth of my little nieceORnephew inside my sister-in-law!!!, deeper relationships with people and God, and finally a return to the States soon (June)!

  11. I just wanted to come over and say congratulations on your success so far! I read your guest post on Anne’s blog and admire all of the changes you’ve made to get you where you are. You look fantastic!

  12. I am celebrating weight loss too! I found your blog through your guest post. ๐Ÿ™‚ I started out at 280 lbs 5 yrs ago, and am down to 208. It has been much slower, because I’ve had 3 children during that time. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I have never gone up once (aside from during the actual pregnancy…but each time I walked out of the hospital at a lower weight than before I was pregnant!).

    So I’m celebrating many similar things…and in 8 lbs (which I hope will happen here in the next couple months) I will be celebrating being below 200 lbs for the FIRST TIME in…well a LONG time.

    So congrats to you! Keep it up! AND – if I can work in exercise 5 times a week as a working mom of 3…*surely* you can find time too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Congrats Gretch! I love seeing how happy you are these days. And you look HOTTTT in that cruise pic ๐Ÿ™‚

    This Spring I’m celebrating a few things…finally being done with grad school (what a relief!) and being excited to become an aunt in the Fall! It’s been really fun watching my sister and her husband get ready to become parents! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I just stumbled upon your blog a few days ago, and I’m so happy I did! It’s not easy to share the ups & downs of the weight loss journey because it’s so personal and seems have such a stigma attached to it, but it’s something that so many people can identify with. I’m sure so many people (like myself) have been inspired and motivated by what you’ve shared!

    As for the spring… I’m an April baby, too! I’ll be turning the big 2-3 on April 22. Which is Good Friday. And Earth Day. I mean… celebrations will be coming out of ears that day! Woo! And… in other good news, I got my first big kid job out of college! So despite the crappy weather (in these parts at least), spring has been oh so good to me!

    • I’ll be the big 2-3 on April 23rd! I hope you have a nice birthday! =]

      • No way! I hope you have an awesome birthday, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I’m celebrating my 23rd birthday this Spring! April babies are the best!

  16. I tweeted about your giveaway too!!

  17. So glad you had a guest post on Anne’s blog. Even the first few posts I’ve read, we had a similar starting weight and your blog will be so helpful/inspirational with getting me counting calories again. I’ll hopefully be celebrating being under 200 pounds soon!

  18. I absolutely love your blog! You are so inspiring and the change in how bright and happy you look since you started your journey is amazing.

    This Spring I’m celebrating new beginnings. So far, we are celebrating: my husband got a new job after being losing his job and being unemployed for many months, my new fitness plan that includes running my first 5K this year and my sister expecting a new baby….hopefully we’ll have lots more amazing things to celebrate as the year moves forward.

  19. Found your blog through Anne’s (great guest post by the way!) Anyway, this spring I’ll be celebrating my return to a healthy life! I’ve recommitted to my weight loss journey and will be completing a 1/2 marathon at the end of May ๐Ÿ™‚ Looking forward to browsing through the rest of your blog!

  20. have i mentioned lately that i am so proud of you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ i am celebrating graduating from grad school (finally!) and the fact that i have a strong body that allows me to do crazy stuff such as starting to train for a full marathon ๐Ÿ™‚


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