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Posted on Feb 20, 2012 in Honey, I Shrunk the Series! | 6 comments

Honey, I Shrunk the Series: Alex Eats Green

Gretchen’s Green Guest:

Hi, fellow foodies! I’m Alex, blogging over at Alex Eats Green. Gretchen was kind enough to pass over the reins while she frolics in Harry Potter land (I’m so JEALOUS) for the weekend. Though not about weight loss, I’ve recently undergone a different kind of transformation: introducing myself to real food.

I live in NYC, and started the blog after being bit hard by the nutrition bug. It was only a matter of time before I found an outlet (other than lecturing my parents) for ranting about the processed food world. I’ve always been an avid Bon Appétit reader, but only recently have I started paying attention to the ingredients listed in all those beautiful recipes, and in turn, what those ingredients do to our bodies. I had become obsessed with learning about nutrition, and had an urge tell people about what I was learning. It was a whole new world that simply astonished me. I couldn’t believe how much I’d been left out of the loop on.

(I really like pickles.)

I stepped into the light after reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. I’ll never forget the moment where it all clicked for me. Summer of 2010, I was reading on a train to Martha’s Vineyard, and Pollan was discussing sugars such as fructose, glucose, and the evil spawn: high-fructose corn syrup. He spoke of the havoc that HFCS can unleash in the body.

I set the book down and thought for a moment.

Ahhhh. I get it now…

We need to eat whole (preferably mostly green) foods in order for our bodies to be happy. And by “happy,” I mean we need to eat food that our body understands, and knows how to break down. When our bodies are happy, we’re happy. Makes sense right? However, the line gets a little blurry when it comes to what constitutes these whole foods; happy foods.

I finally made the correlation as to why when I was a kid, my Mom always insisted on buying us that “gross organic stuff.” The organic whole milk, real cookies (made with milk, sugar, flour, chocolate), Breyer’s ice cream with whole ingredients. Of course when I got out of my Mom’s kitchen, I found my way into the multi-colored world of Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids, KitKats, and Cheetos. I lived in that world until I realized that our bodies don’t have the tools to process these colors (high-fructose corn syrup, processed, artificial coloring) and that it was time to turn my plate around.

I started reading (and watching) everything and anything related to my epiphany. I was passionate about making good food, and about making real food. I also became a vegetarian a little over a year ago (just had my veggieversary!), which stemmed from my newly acquired appreciation for all things green… plus the lofty environmental and ethical effects don’t hurt either. Living in New York City, it’s easy to find fellow green-eaters. I try and take in my fair share of restaurant weeks, but more often that not, I find myself wandering the Union Square farmer’s market searching for the perfect eggplant for that evening’s home cooked meal.

Sometimes I make my own 3-day juice cleanses, and sometimes I eat nothing but cheese over the weekend. Either way, I feel like for the first time in my life, I am really tasting my food, and liking it. Mother approved.

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Thanks, Alex! I love how your story proves that healthy living transformations are not just about weight loss — something that I often forget as someone so fixated on my weight! If any of you are interested in learning more about Alex and following her story further, please check out her blog, Alex Eats Green!

Happy Presidents Day!

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Posted on Jan 10, 2012 in Honey, I Shrunk the Series! | 19 comments

Honey, I Shrunk the Series: Katie for Life

Happy Tuesday, all! If you live in the area, I hope you weren’t accosted by the terrible, first-snow-of-the-season traffic that befell me last night, haha. I love snow, but I do NOT love snow commuting, that’s for sure.

So you guys have all heard the origins of my weight loss story time and time again, and I am so grateful for how kind and supportive everyone has been in receiving it. Of course, I only provide one perspective of how this kind of health journey can take shape! Many of you have accomplished far more than I have in terms of your weight loss, and I can only imagine how inspirational your journeys are. Thus, Honey, I Shrunk the Series has been born! Cut me some slack on the title — you know how much I love the corny.

So today, instead of more continuous drivel from yours truly, I thought it’d be great to showcase others who have had similar struggles. First up, we have Katie from Katie for Life!

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He's not mine, but isn't he the cutest?

For as long as I can remember, I have always struggled with my weight. I went to a private grade school and in 5th grade, the other girls made fun of me, because I had to start wearing a skirt – a privilege reserved for girls in sixth grade and up – because the jumpers didn’t fit me anymore. Girls can be so harsh. Between the seventh and twelfth grades, I dieted on and off, trying my best to get small enough to fit into the all-the-rage clothes at the hottest stores, but I always ended up gaining back what I lost … and more.

Senior Prom, May 2007

Then, I hit the road for my first year of college. While most kids gain the dreaded Freshman 15, the pressure of fitting in and looking as good as all the other scantily clad girls prancing from house party to house party encouraged me to lose weight. I crash dieted, over-exercised, and successfully dropped about 30 pounds.

College 2008 (Another baby!)

For me, the end of high school and beginning of college was a very unhealthy period in my life, both physically and emotionally. I invested myself in an almost-five year relationship with an individual who showed a complete and utter disregard for my feelings. To put it simply, he cheated on me, pointed out each and every one of my imperfections, and made me feel worthless. To make matters worse, I was unhappy being away from home and realized that the “giant university” college experience didn’t suit me at all. However, I put my feelings on the back burner, because I didn’t want to leave the “love of my life.”

College 2008

At the end of 2008, I made a decision – a decision that I believe led the way for many more positive changes in my life. I decided to transfer to a schools and move back home. Although I remained in that toxic relationship for years to come – and my unhealthy relationship with food still lingers – I truly believed that I finally started to see the bigger picture and realized that the importance of putting myself first in order to be there for everyone else.

College 2009

Still, living at home meant that I constantly surrounded by food. The house was stocked with every snack food imaginable, and I showed no restraint. I ate when I was hungry; I ate when I was bored; I ate when I was sad over the latest disagreement in my now-long-distance relationship. Basically, I ate too often, and I ate too much. I wasn’t as educated about eating disorders and healthy eating habits back then; I now know that there’s a name for the eating that I did, and sometimes still do: binge eating disorder. During the 2009 holiday season, I took a trip to Australia with my mom to visit her fiance. It was an amazing trip that I was insanely lucky to take, but I couldn’t help but feel self-conscious for three weeks straight.

Australia, 2009-2010

The once-in-a-lifetime experience of holding a precious little koala … and a picture that I was embarrassed to show anyone. In reality, I couldn’t stand to look at almost every picture from this trip. It was the beginning of a much needed wake up call. Still, the changes didn’t begin immediately. I continued working out semi-regularly. I was a Jazzercise instructor, after all. I had taken Jazzercise classes on-and-off since age 15 and became certified in 2008. Still, these well-rounded workouts were negated by my out-of-control eating. In April 2010, I attended a Jazzercise Convention in New Orleans. Surrounded by healthy women, I felt a blimp and decided that I needed to make a change.

April 2010

The next month, my mom and I joined Weight Watchers. I vowed to carefully count points and work out daily. I was dedicated – more committed that I had ever been to anything in my whole life. In fact, looking back, I was probably a little bit manic about it. But I lost over 60 pounds by my 21st birthday on September 21st, 2010.

I felt beautiful, confident, and healthy! Even better, pounds and inches weren’t the only thing that I got rid of. I also found the strength to close the book on my relationship from hell, and in August 2010, I can confidently say that I met the real love of my life.

Jazzercise Convention, Las Vegas, June 2011

In October, I walked 5 miles for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, feeling fit and fabulous. I was a mere six pounds from the WW goal weight. I even had the opportunity to share my weight loss story on a local morning TV show.

Unfortunately, in September of that year, I gave myself the “week off” to celebrate my birthday, and since then, I don’t feel like I been able to completely reel-in my eating habits. I am fully aware that this could have a lot to do with the fact that my weight loss journey was 100% healthy eating with ZERO indulgences. Even weight maintenance has not been easy. I still fight and give-in to the urge to binge eat. Since reaching my lowest weight, I have gained a little over ten pounds back. But I’m not giving up the fight.

After attending a second Jazzercise Convention in June 2011, I decided to resign as a Jazzercise instructor for various reasons. I still belong to a gym, but working out is by no means second nature to me. I know how important it is, but I still struggle with the motivation to do it on a regular basis.

I started my blog, Katie for Life, in October of last year, but only recently began blogging regularly – several times per week for me. I’ve tried writing about my eating and workouts in a past blog, but found that these aren’t the types of topics that I want to engage in with my readers. Instead, you will find open and honest posts about the struggles and triumphs of an average girl navigating the world of healthy living.

Most recently, on a trip to NYC in December 2011

Although my blog is relatively new, I have plans for innumerable posts about topics that I am hopeful that many of you can relate to. I truly want Katie for Life to be a safe and supportive community for all. At 22 years old, I am still learning and growing every single day, so I know that I can gain from your interaction as much as, if not more than, you might benefit from reading my posts. I recently shared my goals for 2012, and I’d love to know what yours are as well. Please stop on over, and say hello! Talk to you soon!

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See what I mean? Inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing, Katie! 🙂

If you would like to your weight loss story to be included as part of Honey, I Shrunk the Series!, please email me at gretchen@honeyishrunkthegretchen.com.

PS: Just a final reminder that the winner of the Hello Hydration giveaway will be drawn tomorrow, so get your entries in!

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