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Posted on Aug 26, 2011 in Blogging, Dear Diary | 35 comments

Why I Love Blogging

I have to be honest with you guys. I hate the word “blog”. Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of portmanteau words (as well as more than the occasional abbrev, bahaha), but every time I tell someone that I’m a “blogger” I feel like a giant toolbag.

Maybe it’s just the stigma that’s associated with blogging as it formerly was; in the days of Geocities, then Xanga, then LiveJournal, blogging brought out the worst and whiniest in us. Everyone’s personal blog was just a way to participate in memes or gripe (with poor grammar) about utter unfairness of life:

omg my moms went like totally psycho when she found out i got a c- on mr bowmans history test even tho i totally told her about how me and my so-called friend got in a HUGE fight the night before (i mean wtf! she heard us on the fone!!!!) so i couldnt study so it totally wasnt my fault but i still got grounded anyway!!!!!!!!1!! im so depressed.

… Er, yeah.

Thankfully, blogging isn’t like that anymore! Well, not all blogging, anyway. And especially not in the healthy living blogosphere (another word I frequently use now that just screams douchebaggery to me, hahaha.) Since beginning this blog, I have never felt so inspired, motivated, or supported. So thank you all for that. Really.

Is this post cheesy enough for you yet?

And because the one thing that hasn’t changed when it comes to blogging is a blogger’s ability to talk incessantly about him or herself, let me go ahead and break down exactly why I love blogging so much.

The obvious.

I only look happy because I know there’s 10,000 calories worth of coconut shrimp coming.

Oh, right. Life can be healthy AND awesome. Who knew?

Writing this blog has given me the accountability and motivation to lose 57 lbs on my health journey so far! I completely credit blogging with keeping me on track for over a year now (when is the last time I kept ANYTHING up for that long?) Taking back control of my life has been the hardest and best thing that I’ve ever done, and I am so, so glad I have this standing record of every part.

I’m in the know.

I must confess, I’ve never been one that you could rely on for current events. Fitting, given that I live in the political (and actual) capital of our country, isn’t it? But c’mon, are you really that surprised? As a byproduct of blogging, I’ve become much more active on Twitter and Facebook, so I feel like I’m constantly tuned into what’s going down! While I may be a little more technologically dependent than is good for me, overall this is a positive thing.

I’ve become more social.


I used to have this image of bloggers hunched over their keyboards for hours on end (well, actually…) with absolutely no social life. Imagine my shock and delight when I suddenly realized that I’m now more social than ever! Between my fellow DC bloggers, local readers I’ve met up with, and, of course, the incredible conferences I’ve attended, I’m forging new relationships all over the place.

I’ve come to the realization that part of the reason I got to 246 pounds is because I really wasn’t very social. Of course I had friends who have always been very supportive (and continue to be!) but the sad truth of it was that more often that not I would rather have stayed in, stuffed my face with crap, and watched TV than have fun with them. How messed up is that? I can’t lie, there are still times when I’m feeling lazy and flake out on the fun stuff, but the difference now is that I regret it when I do. (Now if only I could make myself feel the same way about exercising…) I have made so many new friends through blogging: some online, some in real life, and many that I know will be in my life for the long haul.

I’ve become a better cook.

IMG_9718.jpgMango Guacamole

I love to cook, and have always been passionate about good food, but my laziness and preference for convenience would always get in my way. Now I’m a true kitchen adventurer, and am constantly finding inspiration for new recipes on other blogs, at restaurants, and at the grocery store!

I’ve become a photographer.

Purple flower eaters.Take your places!Let them eat (wedding) cake!

There was a point in time when the extend of my photography knowledge was to try not not to get your thumb in the way of the flash on your camera phone. (Need proof? Just read some of my earliest posts, haha!) While my older brother, Ben, may be the true artiste in the family (musician and songwriter, photographer, entrepreneur… no big deal.) blogging has seriously sparked my love of photography. Getting to capture the world through the lens of my camera is fun, and hearing from you guys that you like what you see is just really just gravy.

It’s my creative outlet.

Writing post screenshot

Cooking, photography, and writing. Blog has literally combined the best of these worlds for me.

I’ve always loved to write. When I was 9, I used to write stories in black and white composition notebooks a la Harriet the Spy (I was OBSESSED with that movie, btw. Just ask my family how many tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches I demanded in 1996.) I made up entire worlds of faeries and gnomes and teeny tiny people, and I loved it! To this day (nerdy confession alert!) I still love coming up with story ideas (but unfortunately, have not developed the follow-through to actually write them down quite yet.) Blogging gives me the opportunity to write, plain and simple. And I may not be crafting any elaborate potentially best-selling fiction, but it’s helping me hone my skills nonetheless. Besides, to write well, you should write what you know. Well, this is what I know. (Who can name that movie reference?)

So! There you have it. All the reasons why, even if I do hate the word itself, I love to blog. And now it’s your turn:

Why do you love blogging? Or, if you aren’t a blogger, why do you love to read them?

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Posted on Aug 21, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 37 comments

HLS 2011 – Part 1

And now for the 267th Healthy Living Summit recap post I know you’ve just been absolutely dying to read, hehe.


Yes, it’s true. I’m back from the City of Brotherly Love and, as you could probably guess, HLS was awesome. It was a fun, all-too-short weekend chock-full of friends, sessions, and of course, swag:


Friday morning I hop, skipped, and jumped onto a train bound for Philadelphia. I made a quick stop-off at the hotel to drop off my bag before lunch and look who I found!


Yep! None other than Miss Caitlin herself, perched on my bed. I’m sure there are very few of you who don’t know who she is, but Caitlin writes an extraordinarily popular healthy living blog, and also is the creator of the Operation Beautiful movement. So, you know, she’s kind of a big deal. She was there visiting my roomie Ashley, and after what I’m sure was a super composed and not at all awkward introduction (HA!), Ash and I rushed off.


We were due to attend a lunch being hosted by Wellsphere at Stephen Starr restaurant El Vez. Mexicano at its finest!


The Wellsphere team was awesome, and it gave me the chance to meet up with some other bloggers before the conference festivities even began:

Halley, Lisa, CJ, Ashley, and yours truly. Thanks for the pic, Halley!

Needless to say, it was muy delicioso!


Egads! The food! The glorious food! There was chips & guac, mexican chopped salad, tuna tostadas, jalapeno corn bread, grilled beef tacos, shrimp enchiladas, and more. They really known how to turn the flavor up at El Vez; there was a chicken torta (aka sandwich) on the table that was too spicy even for me!


I hated it all, clearly. And as if all that sheer deliciousness wasn’t enough, the Wellsphere team treated us to froyo afterward!


I loaded up with coconut (!) and dark chocolate (!!) frozen yogurt topped with kiwi, mango, mochi, coconut, and a few choco chips. NOMMMMMM. Good thing they don’t have tons of self-serve places around here though… methinks it’d be dangerous. In more than one way.


After spending some post-lunch walking around and meeting up with friends I haven’t seen since Fitbloggin’ or the Fitness Bloggers’ Conference (yes, in case you had forgotten, HLS was conference #3 for the summer) it was time to get ready for the evening’s main event!

Roommates all dolled up: me, Ashley, Theodora, and Anne.

Cocktail party time!


It was at the Reading Terminal Market, which is normally hustling & bustling with lunch-goers but was completely closed down for us! Neat, huh?


They had wine, beer, and a special alcoholic chia seed drink (fitting, no?) as well as a buffet of heavy appetizers. Mingling time!

DC Bloggers FTW: Beth, Katie, Claire and me!

Monica, me, and Katy. I LOVE THEM (Thanks for the pic, Monica!)

I talked myself completely hoarse at the party, so once things started winding down we turned in for the night. But not before we got a little sweet photobooth action in!


Here’s a closer-up shot so you can revel in the awesomeness:


I know that my hottness in the bottom left picture is a little too much to behold, but you’ll just have to manage. After all, this post has already been 18,000 times too long (and on a Sunday! My goodness!) so I’ll save the rest for tomorrow.

Farewell, HLS. ‘Til next year (we’re campaigning for DC as the location!) <3

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Posted on Aug 11, 2011 in Blogging | 59 comments

From Camera to Comments: How I Blog

Well, today’s post should be pretty self-explanatory. You asked for it, and I finally got off my laurels for a hot second and am giving it to you: a glimpse into my supersecret (not really) hot-off-the-presses (hardly) blogging process. Wa-hoo!

Homepage Screenshot
Advanced apologies to those of you who don’t blog and/or don’t care, haha.

I’m a pretty basic blogger. There are really very few frills to my blogging strategy, and here are the 5 steps (yes, just 5!) I’ve followed for pretty much every single post you’ve ever seen on honeyishrunkthegretchen.com:

Step 1: I take photos.

Very rarely do my concepts for my posts come from anything other than the photos I have taken the previous day. I’m not exactly what you’d call a “planner” when it comes to blogging (with a few exceptions, like my Weight Loss 101 series and today’s post, of course.) My blog is about my life, so I do my best to capture that life through the lens of my camera and then just, you know, blog about it.

Something's Cooking

My DSLR camera is a Canon EOS 7D. Prior to this camera, I shot with an older (discontinued) version of the current entry-level Rebel model. I shoot with a 50mm EF f/1.8 prime (non-zoom) lens (a FANTASTIC starter lens, especially for food photography, if you’re trying not to spend a bazillion dollars.) All that camera-speak might not make a whole lot of sense to all of you, but for those who might have been wondering, there you go. Occasionally I also include photos on the blog that have been taken with my iPhone, like when I saw Daniel Radcliffe in NYC:

I <3 you, Harry Daniel.

Credit where credit is due, I’ve learned pretty much everything I know about photography (which ain’t a lot, let’s be honest) from my brother, who is the real deal when it comes to this stuff. He’s actually been doing a series of photography posts on Anne‘s blog teaching how to take better photos with point-and-shoots and cell phones. You should definitely check them out if you’re not into the whole fancyschmancy camera thing.

Step 2: I edit my photos.

I use a program called Adobe Lightroom to edit all of my photos prior to posting them. It’s a fairly user-friendly program, and much, much cheaper to buy than the mecca of photo-editing software, Photoshop, so I highly recommend it.


First, I go through my multitude of photos and flag (keyboard shortcut “P”) all of the ones that I think look good/are usable. Then, I adjust the settings of my selected photos until they look fly (white balance, exposure, clarity, and saturation are the main settings I toy with.)


Photo editing is an entire beast of its own, so if there’s interest I can definitely do a more in-dept post at some point in the future. Photo editing seems complicated, but it doesn’t have to be: there are all sorts of things you can do to make editing easier. You can simply utilize the auto-tone functions, use the Lightroom presets, or create setting options of your own. And LR makes the next step superdeeduper easy.

Step 3: I export my photos online.

Most blogs do have the ability to host your images for you. I use WordPress to blog, and there are little media icons at the top of the post editing page that you can click to upload any picture or video files you have on your computer. If you have a blog, you have probably at some point in time utilized these icons.

writing post screenshot media highlight

HOWEVER! It is my firm belief that if you are doing it this way, you’re doing it wrong. Harsh, but true. IT TAKES FOREVER! Each click of a button takes at least a few seconds, which might not seem like a lot but when you’re using clicks per photo file, it really starts to add up. WordPress’s hosting functionality is really slow, and really inefficient. So I use Flickr as my photo-hosting site instead!

Flickr homepage screenshot

Lightroom gives you the option to easily export your edited photos directly into Flickr. It takes all of a minute to upload multiple photos all at once.

Once they’re in there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a click to be able to grab the already formatted HTML coding by clicking the “Share” button, and copy/paste it into my blog! I generally also delete the first line of the image code so that my photos aren’t clickable (the “a href” part), because it’s really annoying to me to accidentally click on a photo and lose your place on a page.

image post-HTML screenshot/center>

I probably should note that using this method of photo hosting ate up my free account pretty quickly, so I did have to purchase a Flickr Pro account. But it’s only like $20 a year or something, so it’s a pretty negligible cost for the convenience (plus, now Flickr is an extra backup of all my pics!)

Step 4: I write.

A pretty sensible next step, eh? Well, as you may have already gleaned from the screenshots that have been posted so far, I blog entirely in HTML. That means that I manually add (almost) all of the formatting and coding of the text in my posts.

Writing post screenshot

Why do I do this? Well, it’s for the same reason that I reject WordPress’s media uploading functionality: it is too slow. By blogging in HTML instead of rich-text format (you can switch back and forth with the “Visual” and “HTML” buttons in the upper right of the text window), I actually save time and ensure that all my entries come out looking exactly the way I want them to.

It’s really not as hard as it might seem. I’m pretty much an HTML n00b, so other than inputting links and photos, I mostly stick to using code to bold, italicize, or strikethrough.

Aaaand that’s pretty much it! I do use WordPress’s “link” button in the editing bar because the latest update made it fast and fabulously easy to use (including giving you the ability to easily link back to past posts, and have all your links open in a new window. Yay!)

I also center all my photos by simply adding < center > before and < /center > after each copy/pasted HTML block from Flickr. Occasionally I’ll also change the height and width of the photos manually by doing a little math (schwaaa?!) to make it look better. It might sound kind of overwhelming but I promise you that it’s really not that complicated!

Step 5: I publish.

Most of the time I pre-write my posts the night before they go up. This way, I maintain a consistent posting schedule (between 8:30 and 9:30 each weekday morning, for the most part) and ensure my posts have the most visibility possible for the entire day. But you don’t have to log in at 7 AM just to ensure your post will go out on time.

scheduling publish screenshot

I simply schedule the post to publish at a time of my choosing when I save it. Done and done. I’d say that step 5 also includes proofreading my posts, but I think you can all attest to the fact that that clearly isn’t true. Oops.

So there you have it! 5 easy steps to blogging every (week)day. I would estimate that aside from the time I spend actually taking pictures (which is an ongoing process through the day) it generally takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to blog. That includes uploading my pictures, editing them (this is obviously the biggest factor in how long the process takes — lots of photos equals lots of editing), writing and formatting my post. It doesn’t necessarily include marketing the post (through Twitter and Facebook), responding to comments or emails, or other perfunctory “blogger duties” that may arise. Ironically, blogging about how I blog has actually taken three times as long as my normal posts do, haha!

So. Questions? Comments? Criticism? (Heh.) Hopefully this was moderately interesting for at least one of you, haha. Is there any interest for further posts on this subject, or delving into photography/photo editing more? Just let me know. I’m very interested in hearing from you other bloggers on how your methods differ from my own, so lay ’em on me!

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Posted on Jun 24, 2011 in Blogging, Dear Diary | 6 comments

Oh hi, Boulder. I think I love you.

Hello from the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in beautiful Boulder, CO!

Oh Hai, Rockies!

It’s kind of awesome here. I might keep it. 😉


This is me! If this is your first visit to the blog, I encourage you to read a little bit about me, catch up on my background with weight, health, and starting this blog, and peruse a few of my top posts.

I started off my day bright & early with an 8:30 flight out of DC, killing time on the flight by laughing my ass off (much to the delight of my seat-neighbors, I’m sure.)


Buy this book. Seriously. I’m only four chapters in and I already have a cramp from trying to hold in my laughter on the plane! After waiting forevvvver for the Super Shuttle (and meeting up with a couple of other conference-goers on the way!) I arrived in Boulder!

Welcome to Colorado!

I’m rooming with Casey, and our room is on the Concierge floor of the hotel – complete with breakfast buffet access (sweet!) and the most amazing sundeck. I haven’t had time to check it out yet, but you can bet that I will be snapping some pics of the fantastic view later!


Right now I’m munching on some Driscoll’s strawbs (I’m sooo hungry – no time for lunch!) and listening to the keynote presentation by Shellie Pfohl, the Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition.


She was appointed by Prez Obama himself, and is discussing the state of the US’s health (note: it ain’t good.) and what the government is trying to implement in order to change that. Very intersting, but saddening statistics! Well, at least we’re in the healthiest state in the country while listening to it, haha!

I’ll be back with plenty more updates as the conference continues (working on my multitasking skillz, yo!) If you’re attending the conference, be sure to flag me down and say hi!

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Posted on May 22, 2011 in Blogging, Dear Diary, Food | 31 comments

Fitbloggin’ 2011!

Well, the Fitbloggin’ conference is over. Noooooo!


It was an absolutely awesome weekend of meeting new friends (I adamantly refuse to start using the term “blends”, btw haha), learning immense amounts of new information about blogging and the social media sphere (did you check out my notes from the session on how to utilize social media in blogging?) and even getting to complete my third 5K!

I took so many pictures and met so many people and had so much fun that I’m going to throw it all up in this post at once so you can all relive the magic with me. YOU ARE WELCOME. (But seriously, apologies for the longest post in the history of posts due to the obscene amount of pictures I feel compelled to share.) Heeeere, we go! 😉

We were staying at the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront – literally RIGHT on the water. Amazing views!

And look who else was there: Anne! She is awesome (dare I say, fantastic? HA!), and also happens to be my sister’s bestie from high school, so we go literally way back. Heh. Jealous, sister?

Are you digging Tina‘s awesome mouth-full-of-bread photobomb here?

Anne hard at work. So many laptops… so many bloggers.

Katy‘s got mad Zumba skillz, what can I say?

Gretchen and Jennifer at Fitbloggin!
Pic stolen from Jennifer! I <3 her.

Theodora doin’ her thang. I loved being around so many other people who take pictures of their food!

Photoshoot down by the water, natch.

Photo down by the Baltimore Waterfront
Our awesome dinner group: Matt, Sana, Yours Truly, Jenn, Gina, Julianne, and Julie (who I stole this pic from, heh.)

We got to spend a little time outside, walking around. The weather was pretty crummy the first day but cleared up BEAUTIFULLY on Saturday!

So beautifully, in fact, that we got to see this rockin’ segueway tour zipping down by the harbor. Haaaaahahaha.

IMG_7441.jpgJulie and I at Fitbloggin
Absolutely loved getting to meet all my roomies for the weekend, too! From the top that’s Amy and Elisha, Julie, and Jordan. Lovelovelove!


And holy frijole, the swag. OH. EM. GEE. The swag. New sneakers, running capris, a hat that has built-in speakers, a new SCALE, Popchips and Larabars and coupons galore… and that only skims the surface! I think I have enough Popchips to last me for the rest of the year. HA! Okay, let’s be honest. They will be gone by Tuesday.


My room looks like it exploded. It’s awesome. And let’s not forget the EATS:



These were the biggest effing crabcakes of my life. I couldn’t even make it through an entire one! Too bad they were only okay – lots of little pieces of shell and a lot of filler, unfortunately. Always had great company at dinner, though! Okay. I think I’ve killed you with pictures enough for now. I just wanted to get it all down, y’know, for posterity! Hopefully you’ll all be able to reap the benefits of everything I learned in days to come… I have SO many new ideas for posts!

Can’t wait ’til next year!

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