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Posted on Jul 26, 2011 in Dear Diary | 46 comments

The Spark

Thanks for all your well-wishes and congratulations in response to yesterday’s almost-there weigh-in, friends! I swear, if I’m not in the 180s by this time next week… hahaha. Although, granted, yesterday probably didn’t help push me in the right direction too much. I was going to try to gloss over the fact that I spent yesterday doing nothing but reading/napping/playing video games and had pizza for lunch and Chipotle for dinner but, hey, this blog is about honesty, right?


So speaking of honesty, I’m curious to know: for those of you on weight loss or health journeys, what was the “spark” that caused you to want to turn your life around? What was the catalyst that made you finally decide that there’s no use in putting it off any longer? A recent exchange I had with a reader has caused me to think about the fact that I didn’t really have a specific thing happen to make me decide to change. No fat photo, no unkind remark, nothing like that. It was just more of a general “hallelujah” moment. I guess what I want to know is, is that weird?

One of the many unflattering “before” pictures that did NOT spark my lifestyle change

I’ve touched on how I got to my journey’s starting point in the past, and how I’ve started and stopped more diets than I can even count at this point. Every Sunday night was a new resolution, and every Monday by lunchtime I’d failed. Being healthy, vibrant, and able to enjoy my life was a pipe dream at best, and diabetes, high cholesterol and a general deterioration of my health (at 22!) was a terrifyingly all-too-close nightmare. Some of you ask me how I finally got the courage to break the cycle of binge eating, food hiding, and occasional purging and I honestly wish I had a more concrete answer to give:

I saw THIS picture of myself, and I knew it was time to change.
I went shopping and realized I was officially THIS size, and I knew I couldn’t let it go any further.
Someone made THIS remark, and I knew it was time to start over.
My doctor told me THIS, and I knew I couldn’t lie to myself anymore.

But… I can’t really say that’s the case. Because I was 22, 246 pounds, a size 20 (I know I say that I was an 18, but I think we all know the truth here), outrageously out of shape, probably pre-diabetic for all I know, and I saw pictures of myself, went shopping, had family members tell me things, and went to the doctor just like any other person. And still didn’t have the motivation to truly change.

Grizzly Gretchen.

Aaaaand yet, here I am today. 23, 190 pounds, a size 12, a 5K finisher (and working towards my first 5 miler at the end of September!), feeling stronger and healthier than, well, EVER. I guess, for me, it was just all about the culmination of stuff: the number on the scale, the clothing sizes, the remarks, the pictures, the way I felt about myself… all of it. Eventually, finally, thankfully I just hit my breaking point.

So, I reiterate: what sparked your journey? What was is that led you to where you are today? Or are you, like me, unsure of exactly what it was that caused you to change, but either way are eternally grateful that you did?

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Posted on Feb 2, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 2 comments

PB, J, and my sincere thanks

Good morning, friends. It’s Wednesday! We’re halfway through the week, thank GOODNESS. Anyone have big Superbowl plans this weekend? In years past some of my friends usually would throw a Superbowl party. In fact, check out the wicked (in retrospect, wickedly bad for you) “stadium” that my friend Amanda and I built a couple years ago:

Yep, that’s guac grass, salsa and queso endzones, slim jim goal posts, rice crispy treat bleachers and cheeto, frito, and tortilla chip fans. ::shudder:: If the fact that I just threw up in my mouth a little isn’t a sign that I’ve changed, I don’t know what is! I’m not even sure if a party is being thrown for this year’s game, but regardless my mom’s birthday falls on Superbowl Sunday so I have an excuse not to watch the game. Uh, I mean, shucks! Durn it! I’m going to have to miss the sports game! What I *AM* excited for is the return of GLEE right after the Superbowl! And, doubleplusbonus, they’re doing THRILLER! What uppppp! Everyone should tune in for that amazingness. That is much more my jam.

Speaking of jam, for brekkie this morning I fixed myself a little bagelwich a la Julie with some PB & J.

Nom! Only about 200 calories (100 for the bagel thin, 90 for the PB, and 10 for the sugar-free raspberry jam) and it definitely hit the spot in my mad rush to get out the door this morning.

Okay, now to tone down with something just a little more serious. The support that you guys have given me regarding my post on my personal struggles with disordered eating and my relationship with food has been so amazing. As soon as I started reading your comments of love, support, and from those that have struggled with the same things, all my doubts about publishing that post disappeared. There is one reaction that I received, however, that I felt the need to share with you all. I received this email from an old friend that I hadn’t spoken to in several years:

Dear Gretchen,

I hope you don’t mind my emailing you; I’ve thought about sending this message a couple of times, and chickened out – reading the blog of someone you haven’t spoken to in probably two years is creepy, right? But then, I saw your post entitled “Me vs. Me,” and it made my mind up for me.

I have struggled on-and-off with anorexia for years, bouncing from a 14 to a 4 and back with barely 4 months in between. I know what it’s like to come home with no space in my head for anything but the number on the scales, and what it’s like to punish myself if the number hasn’t dropped by half a pound since the morning’s weigh-in. I also know what it’s like to applaud myself for disposing of meals in such a way that those closest to me never saw it, but kind-of hoping that they would notice and affirm my skinniness, my loss, by commenting or worrying.

I like to think that I’ve moved on from those days. I eat healthily, I’m okay with how I look. I’ve grown, changed, leaned, whatever…but realistically, I’m only treating the symptoms, and not the underlying cause of the problem. I had accepted that my problem couldn’t change, and that it was my curse to bear. I felt like I was an outsider for thinking this way about food – something that is fundamental to life itself.

Reading your post made me think about the whole thing in a different way. Maybe, if you can change not only your eating habits, but your relationship with food, I can do that too. Maybe, I can see food as something that is regulated by the needs of your body, rather than something to be used as a punishment or reward. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I can learn to treat food as more than an accessory or obstacle to fashion-thin.

I’m not sending this because I want to share my story – I’m not brave enough for that. I’m sending it because I want you to know that what you have written DOES make a difference. You’ve been so strong, sharing your story and your journey, and I want you to know that it is truly, deeply appreciated. Even by those you didn’t expect to read or notice.

Thank you.

I asked her for permission to share her message on my blog because I was so deeply moved by it. When I began this blog, it was purely for the reason of trying to lose weight. That was it. I needed to become smaller. But as this blog has grown (and I believe, as I’ve grown with it) I realize that it’s about so much more than just fitting into a certain pant size. Writing, blogging, becoming part of this amazing healthy living community has changed my relationship with food and with my own body so much. While I never thought that my records of this journey would inspire anyone else to change their attitudes towards food, it brings me such incredible joy to think that I have played a part in just that. My friend is finally taking steps towards her much-deserved self-acceptance and a healthier relationship with Food (and yes, sometimes it needs that capital F) and it’s beautiful, just like her.

So thank you all for making me feel so amazingly, incredibly worthwhile. Obviously I’m not in a perfect place in terms of Food and me. There are still hardships, still struggles, and my post illustrated that. But I believe now, more firmly than ever, that this really is a permanent change in me. Thank you.

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