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Posted on Feb 28, 2014 in Weigh Ins, Weight Loss | 4 comments

YBL 2014 Final Weigh-In

Well, my complete and total lack of posting this week is indicative of the fact that I very nearly went totally insane from how busy I’ve been. I leave for San Francisco on Sunday for CM Week — the annual Community Manager summit over at Yelp HQ. And while I couldn’t be more excited to get to spend an entire week with some of my Yelpy cohorts who I thus far have only known online (and most of you should know how much I love turning online friends into real life friends by now!) getting things tied up in a semi-respectable bow before I leave has been a little bit stressful.

However, not so stressful that I was unable to remember to tally up for my final Yelp’s Biggest Loser weigh-in! That particular challenge ends today (though obviously I still have many personal challenges and goals still to come!), so let’s get on that, shall we?

(Re)Starting Weight: 236.6 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 226.2
This Weigh-in: 225.1 lbs
Difference: -1.1 lbs

Heyyyyy, I’ll take it! I’m the first one to admit that my eats this week were NOT exactly on point (there may have been an evening spent at Red Lobster somewhere in there…) so I’m actually kind of shocked I was able to lose anything at all. I consider that a definite win.

So this brings my YBL Challenge totals to 11.5 pounds lost and a 4.9% change. Which almost definitely means I didn’t win any kind of prize as the grand poobah of weight loss (we have a guy who’s lost like 9%!) but I still consider it a valient effort that I’m certainly proud of. After all, hey! I’m 11.4 pounds lighter than I was when I started.

And now? Well, you know! Onward and downward and all that good stuff… after a probable bit of relapse given that I’m headed to San Francisco, the land of the Sushiritto.

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Posted on Feb 25, 2014 in Dear Diary, Working Out | 9 comments

Aerial Yoga

Alas, I fear I must now face the stark reality that I will never, ever be a Cirque du Soleil-style aerialist.

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My coworker Kimberly and I went on a fitness adventure by trying out Aerial Yoga at Spark Yoga in Arlington.

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As you can see, aerial yoga is yoga that utilizes aerial silks in all of the moves. The description on the website reads:

Ready to fly? Decompress your spine and your mind by practicing yoga from a hammock suspended above the ground. Classes may include inversions, upper body exercises, and adventurous tricks using aerial hammocks.

Now, I’m no yoga pro, but I’ve been to enough classes and done enough at-home DVDs to know my way around a sun salutation or two, and my understanding was that this “beginner’s” level aerial yoga class would actually make things a little easier because the silk helps to support your weight and whatnot.

Plus, hello! It just looked fun!

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Weeeeell, as it turns out, my assumptions were both true and not true. But mostly not true. Sure, certain stretches were made simpler (and deeper!) by utilizing the silk. It was cool to do things like put your foot into the fabric while sitting on the ground (so it was kind of like up in a sling) and stretch, or putting the silk under your arms and falling leaning forward into a cobra pose. Plus, doing child’s pose while sitting in the “bucket” felt pretty fab.

But all the other stuff we were expected to do? Nottttt so much. As it turns out, putting a strip of fabric underneath your pelvic bone and downward-dogging on top of it actually kind of hurts. Not to mention the part where the instructor told us to then lift our legs off of the ground, so ALL OF OUR BODY WEIGHT was being balanced on our pelvic bone. And since I obviously have quite a bit of weight on me still, I couldn’t really do that (it REALLY hurt!), so then I started feeling pretty bad about myself when I saw all the other girls in the class suspended over the ground with ease.

I think the biggest problem with the class as a whole was that the instructor is so advanced in her aerial abilities (she was — is? — a professional aerialist and pole dancer) that I don’t think she considered giving out any modification suggestions. I mean, even when I did CrossFit and P90X and all that ridiculousness, there were always modifications for folks who weren’t as strong or as fit, and I didn’t get any of that at aerial yoga. And, hey, maybe it’s just that there aren’t really modifications possible with aerial yoga, but if that’s the case they should probably advertise that the class is for those who are already a little more advanced in yoga to begin with, right? I mean, throughout a large percentage of the class, I just kind of sat/dangled there not really knowing what to do (and feeling worse and worse about myself) while all the other girls got their Cirque du Soleil on. Womp womp.

Thankfully, the last 10 minutes of the class were somewhat redeeming. You end with savasana, but you do it inside the silk, so it’s basically like lying in a hammock/being wrapped up in a little cocoon. The instructor comes by and swings you gently back and forth, and you get to just lay there. Unfortunately, while I think the goal of savasana is to clear your mind and get into a good mental space, all I could do was fixate on how crappily I performed throughout the entire class. It was still nice and comfy though.

Anyway, as you can tell, aerial yoga really didn’t end up being for me, but I think a seasoned yogi or just folks who are lighter and more flexible might have a more enjoyable experience. And I guess for now, I’ll just stick to regular on-the-mat yoga whenever I need a fix. Blessedly, while I was whining to Kimberly after the class, she reassured me that she faced a lot of similar problems, so it does help to know that I wasn’t alone in my misery, haha.

Have you ever tried aerial yoga?

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Posted on Feb 24, 2014 in Weigh Ins, Weight Loss | 5 comments

The Lost Weigh-in

Between the logging of my weigh-ins on My Fitness Pal and reporting my %s of weight lost for Yelp’s Biggest Loser and, of course, all of the dancing around my bathroom that I do every time I have a loss, it only just occurred to me that I never actually blogged about my weigh-in from this past Friday!

Bad weight loss blogger! Bad Gretchen!

This is actually a reaction shot to experiencing my very first raw oyster this weekend (I did actually like it, once I got over the initial weirdness!), but I figured the expression was still apt, haha.

Anywho, rest assured that the information did not go unrecorded, so I’ll just catch you up right quick on my most recent foray onto the scale.

(Re)Starting Weight: 236.6 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 227.5
This Weigh-in: 226.2 lbs
Difference: -1.3 lbs

Hallelujah and blessed be, I have made it to the 10 pounds lost club yet again! I am a very happy camper indeed that I have yet to have a week without at least some kind of loss (although I know a gain or a stall will happen eventually, I’m just gonna be happy with what I’ve got for as long as I’ve got it!) and hopefully a full ten libbies means that maybe the slimdown is starting to be semi-noticeable?

It’s so hard for me to tell, not only because I’m, y’know, me, and thus I see myself every day and so subtle changes are difficult to see, but also because of my frame, even when I’m not at my current weight, losing or gaining five pounds doesn’t really mean much to the naked eye.

But whether it’s wishful thinking or actual fact, I do think that some of my clothing is starting to fit a little nicer again, and I feel like my stomach might just be a millimeter or two flatter. Onward, downward, and whatnot, right? Here’s hoping that I continue to do really well this week, because I’m off to San Francisco next weekend to spend an entire week with my Yelpy coworkers in one of the foodiest cities in the country! Urrrrk!

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Posted on Feb 14, 2014 in Dear Diary, Pup Posts, Weigh Ins, Weight Loss | 12 comments

Snowpocalypse 4.5 (Weigh-in)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

So I can’t actually remember at this point how many Snowmageddons and Snowpocalypses and Snowtastrophes we’ve had here in the DMV, but I know that over the past few years, it’s been a lot. Yesterday’s epic snowfall was absolutely no different, with some areas around here getting well over a FOOT of snow in one fell swoop.

I actually LOVE snow, which should probably come as no surprise given the fact that I used to live in places like Canada and Poland (where this kind of snow is like chump change) aaaand the fact that I work from home and so snow doesn’t impact my ability to get to work (sowwyyyy). Unfortunately, along with the snow, Winter Storm Pax has also brought flight cancelations for both my mom and my sister-in-law’s planned trips, as well as dogs who refuse to go more than three feet into the yard.

To be fair, I get that the snow comes up to their chins… but I would still prefer it if they didn’t force me to physically toss them into the snow just to go number one. Luckily, at least one of the schnauzers in this family is enjoying the snow…

That’s my brother’s puppy Pixel (or Daxter 2, since we accidentally call him Daxter so often, hahaha) and at least HE knows how to have a good snow day! 🙂

ANYWAY, enough chitchat about the weather. I know what you guys are all waiting for, so let’s get down to business, shall we?

(Re)Starting Weight: 236.6 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 229.6
This Weigh-in: 227.5 lbs
Difference: -2.1 lbs

Whoop whoop! Whaddya know, I guess all that snow shoveling ended up being worth it, eh? My scale is actually kind of an a-hole, because when I first stepped on it said I had lost like 9 pounds and the emotional rollercoaster that followed went something like this:

“OMG!! YAY!”
“…wait. That’s probably not possible.”
*Steps off scale, steps back on.*
“Dammit.”

So yes, my scale kind of robbed me of the initial joy from this mere 2-lb loss, but I now have my head back on straight and I am totally psyched to see it. This brings my total weight lost so far up to 9 pounds and my % lost up to 3.85%! (We’re keeping track of percentages for the Yelp’s Biggest Loser challenge at work.)

I actually wasn’t sure what I’d see on the scale today after a week of kiiiind of uneven eats. Calorie-wise I was still doing pretty well each day, but I fully admit to making some baaaaad choices on the food front nutrition-wise… like how I may or may not have eaten an entire bag of ketchup flavored chips that my friend brought me from Canada for dinner last night. #oops

Sidenote: I can’t decide if it would be better or worse for me if they actually sold ketchup chips here. On the one hand, I’d be able to get them all the time, but on the other hand, I think they would be far less enticing if I could. Hrm.

ANYWAY, the point is I’m very happy with this weigh-in and hopefully will only continue to see steady progress like that throughout this journey. And that’s where I’ll leave it for this week. I’m actually finding that I have to be very careful about how much time I dedicate to thinking about my weight loss progress this time around, because it’s so easy for me to get discouraged… especially once I start thinking about the weight that I had lost before (and since regained). Here’s a tip: don’t go searching through your Flickr archives for pictures to use in a post unless you are emotionally prepared to see how awesome you looked -60 pounds and are able to get past them without fixating, haha.

But! As I know VERY well from past experience, trying to lose too quickly and look for that quick-fix solution ALWAYS ends up backfiring and biting me in the ass, so I just have to keep on keeping on. And hey, on the bright side, this is definitely giving me new perspective as to how fit and awesome I looked at 186 pounds! I feel like when I was at that weight, it still wasn’t good enough for me, and I was always trying to focus on the NEXT 20 pounds. But hot damn, right now if I wouldn’t be happy just to make it back to the 180s and see how I feel after that.

Onward, right?

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Posted on Feb 12, 2014 in Dear Diary, Food, Weight Loss | 10 comments

Time Management, or the Complete Lack Thereof

As I sit here on my bed in my Harry Potter leggings with two sleepy schnauzers curled up around me, I fully admit that I’ve got quite the cherry gig going. I’m sure you’re all super tired of hearing me drone on and on about how much I love my new job, but I promise that bringing it back up is simply a way of introducing the main crux of this here post. Because yes, I now work for Yelp and being that Yelp’s HQ is located roughly 2,500 miles away in San Francisco, this means I have all the comforts AND challenges associated with being a remote employee.

Now, I realize I’ve already dedicated an entire post to the pros and cons of working from home, but I figure that it’s a useful enough topic (not to mention pretty crucially relevant to my life and stuff) that it warrants a little more focus. Particularly pertaining to how this epic change to my lifestyle is affecting my health and weight loss efforts. Because, lest we forget, the first time we played this game I had a standard (read: boring) eight-to-four-style government contracting job, which kept me on a very regular work schedule with a LOT of free time both at and after work.

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And now? Well, I’ve already mentioned how time-consuming this job is. In a good way, kind of, considering the fact that I love what I’m doing. But the fact of the matter is that it is just SO easy to spend all of my time these days, well, working! You already know that my job involves planning and participating in lots of nighttime and weekend events, in addition to the many calls and meetings that I have with local businesses throughout the week.

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And since Northern Virginia as a region is actually quite large, it isn’t unheard of for me to end up driving out to meet with someone in Centreville and then head into Arlington and then back out to Fairfax in a single day.

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So between all of that, plus the fact that the rest of my job resides primarily in the online realm and thus I can literally be doing work ALL THE TIME, even when I’m just on my phone, means it’s really, really hard to break away. And so here, in a nutshell, is simultaneously the best AND worst part about working from home:

You set your own schedule.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. And yes, it’s absolutely rad that while I sometimes may spend an entire day running all over Northern VA, popping in and out of meetings, I also can schedule massage appointments for 2 PM in the afternoon or can spend half a day getting purple-ified at the hair salon on a random Tuesday. But having that much freedom also makes it pretty difficult for me, someone with admittedly weak self-discipline in the first place, to prioritize things like going to the gym or eating at regular intervals.

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Because of the aforementioned HQ being on the West Coast thing, many of my colleagues and coworkers don’t get cracking until it’s noon over here. Which means it’s not uncommon for me to receive emails and notices as late as 9 or 10 PM. Which you wouldn’t inherently think is a bad thing, since I’ve never really been much of a morning person anyway and I do love being able to operate without an alarm clock, but it really does screw with my schedule, since the other people I work with here — my Yelpers, business owners, PR companies, media folks and whatnot — are obviously operating on Eastern Standard Time.

So by the time I roll out of bed around 9:30 AM or so (don’t hate me!), let the dogs out, feed them, brush my teeth, etc, there may already be a pile of work issues that need attention. So I immediately open my laptop and set to work on there, only to realize a few hours later (when my stomach finally starts to rumble) that I should probably eat something. Urk. Not so great, especially for someone who is a steadfast believer that eating breakfast is a key tenant of successful weight management.

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And I know what you’re thinking. Just get up earlier, dummy! If I got up earlier, I’d be able to take care of all that morning stuff AND eat breakfast before getting slammed with emails and having to dig into my calls for the day, right? Weeeeell, kind of. As mentioned, I’m gonna have stuff to deal with until fairly late into the night anyway, so getting up earlier really just ends up extending my workday even further. So, therein lies the REAL solution: I need to learn how to STOP WORKING. To close my laptop at a certain time, to stop checking my email, to realize that there is like a 0.1% chance that something is going to come up at 9:30 PM that needs IMMEDIATE resolution and can’t wait until morning. Because if I mastered the art of not working, it would probably be pretty easy to get myself back on a regular home office schedule, the kind where I start and stop work at normal times. (At least on non-event days, which would be better than nothing!)

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done, especially when you not only like what you do but really, truly want to be amazing at doing it. I mean, I’ve been trying for 10 months at this point to figure out the secret to shutting my mind off, flipping the “work” switch, and being able to find that delicious work/life balance, and so far… nada.

Alas, I’m just awful at self-regulating my work hours, and that is why I end up doing things like working on Sundays and obsessively checking my email before I go to bed. And just like I obviously stay on track with my weight loss best when I have the accountability of this blog and calorie counters like My Fitness Pal and a fitness tracker like my new Fitbit, I know that I need something to provide accountability for ensuring I don’t work myself into the ground. Maybe I should just set like 10 different silent alarms on my Fitbit so that it buzzes and scares the crap out of me (it does!) every time I should be doing something other than working, like eating breakfast or getting up from my desk to walk around.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that my lack of time management skills is one of the main reasons that blogging fell off the radar last year. And it’s definitely the reason that I still haven’t finished my second book (sorry guys…). And it is one of my go-to excuse for days I don’t make it to the gym or end up making some not so great food choices. “I’m too busy! I don’t have the time!”

I mean, even I know that’s BS. I just don’t know how to make the time. But I am working on it, promise. Maybe in another 10 months I’ll have made some progress, hahaha.

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