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Posted on Feb 27, 2012 in Dear Diary | 19 comments

Obsessive

I have a bit of an obsessive personality. You are probably not shocked to hear this. Still, it bears noting that I am well-aware of my tendency to throw 110% of myself into something… until my interest suddenly drops out, that is. Then, I have absolutely no problem just, y’know, giving up. In fact, aside from sushi, Harry Potter, and my inexplicable love for stationary shopping, this has held true for pretty much everything I’ve ever claimed interest in: every hobby I’ve attempted taking up (scrapbooking, anyone?), every food I’ve been obsessed with (still waiting for the tide to turn on my love for brussels sprouts), and every fad diet I’ve attempted. In fact, my single-minded focus when it comes to my interest du jour often causes me to forgo other aspects of my life.

Most are relatively harmless. For example, I am super obsessed with the Hunger Games right now (as you all should be, as well). In fact, when I first read the books last October, I ended up spending a large chunk of my trip to Canada finishing all three of them instead of going out and doing Canadian things. Was it stupid to choose to read (an AMAZING set of books, but something I could do anytime nonetheless), over spending time back in my high school stomping grounds? Probably. But ultimately it wasn’t anything unforgivable. Another example: the other day I bought not one, not two, but THREE different pieces of Hunger Games-inspired paraphernalia on Etsy. Perhaps not the best use of my money, but like I said, I’m obsessed.

While I may display my ridiculous fangirl-ness rather proudly, however, I am ashamed to admit that other, far more destructive behaviors that have cropped up in the name of past obsessions. Especially when that obsession manifested itself in ways particular to my self-image… like the very one that sparked the entire creation of this blog: my weight. My obsession with my appearance and weight has always had its ups and down, but it was unsurprisingly at its craziest in high school. At times, either because I was actually content with my looks or simply too lazy to do anything about it, things were fine. Business as usual – eating normal amounts of not-super-healthy-but-not-terrible-for-you foods, not thinking about it too much. But as we very well know, all it takes is one comment from a mean teenager, one side-eye from someone skinnier, one spark of self-hatred and all that normalcy crumbles. And suddenly the only thing that matters is losing weight. Not my family, not my friendships, and certainly not my health.

The first step was always to enter crash diet mode. I would mentally yell obscenities at myself, trying to convince myself that I was too fat to deserve food. I would try to sleep all day so I wouldn’t have to eat anything. But between school, and going to the bathroom, and simply getting bored with that, my plan to, uh, not eat would fail, and I would resort to the latest fad diet. Low carb! No carb! No cheese! Only cheese! Cabbage soup! Fish oil! And when the results didn’t come, or didn’t come fast enough, sometimes I went even further than that. Diet pills. Insane “cleanses” based on information gleaned from the internet. And I know that if my 16-year-old self had been able to get her hands on some fen-phen, she would have had no qualms about it, heart murmurs be damned. Eventually, my fervent obsession with dropping 10 lbs in a week would fizzle out. By the time I got to college, cycles of binge eating had worked their way in there as well, which means that my slow ascent to my highest weight of 246 lbs happened purely because of my vain attempts to lose a quick 5 libbies in high school.


Senior year of college

The worst part, as I see it now (with all my almost-24-years of wisdom, haha), is that I wasn’t really even overweight in high school. Because I was younger than everyone else (I skipped a grade when I was young), it took a little longer for my baby fat to redistribute itself. But by the time I got to the end of my sophomore year, I was strong, tall, and probably around 160 lbs. Totally normal, maybe even svelte, considering that’s right around what my goal weight is now. Of course, since I spent grades 9 – 11 in Taiwan, surrounded by my genetically petite classmates who topped out at 5’2″ and 110 lbs, I thought I was a total whale. I was in the 180s by the time I started my senior year, now living in Ottawa, but given how good I felt when I hit 186 back in the fall, I now know how perfectly NORMAL that was.


Senior year of high school

Stupid teenage me.

Hogsmeade
Last weekend

Anyway, the point of this long, extremely wordy post is to point out that it’s only now that I’m really starting to understand myself. I’m starting to get how my mind works, how my motivation works, and I keep trying to figure out what it is about this time that’s actually sticking. I mean, I know that I’ve been drifting for a while now, and I haven’t made tons of progress over the past year compared to the beginning, but the fact that I’m still here? That I’m still blogging, still trying, still actively thinking about my health? AND still trying to do it all the right way? It is a significant change from how I used to be. I hope it doesn’t sound conceited or anything, but I think it shows growth. And you might say I’m still pretty obsessed with my weight. I mean, I do still blog about it pretty much every day. But it’s a healthier kind of obsession, if there’s such a thing. It’s a slow burn. Not the kind the consumes you and drives you to do desperate (and dangerous) things. The kind that warms you from the inside, because you know that eventually, even if it does take another year to drop as many pounds as you lost in the first 4 months, you’ll get there.

Onward.

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Posted on Dec 8, 2011 in Dear Diary | 19 comments

I Don’t Wanna Grow Up…

… I’m a Toys R Us Muppets kid!

Last night, I saw The Muppets movie. Yes, again.


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What can I say? With the general spirit of the season, I was just in the mood for something sweet… and a different kind of sweet than my chocolate pie. Which I did have for breakfast this morning. Heh.


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Truth be told, the Muppets as they originally were intended are actually a little before my time. I did grow up on Muppet Babies, however, so I think that’s close enough. And since I’m evidently bipolar and my mood seems to continuously bounce back and forth between “Christmas Cheerful” and “Doldrum Dwelling”, I guess I just needed a little something to help push me firmly into the former category. So why not the Muppets? After all, the movie is complete with singing, dancing, and primary colors. The story of friendship, acceptance, and, above all, love… well, it’s just good for the soul.

I mean, with the drama that I’ve been dealing with for the past month, it’s been a confusing time. That, coupled with family-less Thanksgivings and hospitalized dogs, has me feeling fairly emotionally drained. And it’s making it hard for me not to be skeptical about the upcoming weeks. And I’m not sure if you know this, but I’m not really known for being a pessimist. I’m generally considered to have the lock on that whole happy-go-lucky thing here. You know, that wild, childlike, foolish optimism? That’s my jam.

But between $1800 vet bills and fancy outings to museums and the theatre, I’m guess I’m feeling just a little too grown-up. Not that I’m complaining about the awesome ladydates, of course! It’s just that I’m a little nostalgic. I know it’s ludicrous to complain about being too adult, especially considering I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to be more mature, to grow up faster, to be taken more seriously. I guess I’m just fickle like that. Chalk it up to that pesky second X chromosome.


Women be crazy.

I suppose I’m just trying to find a way to hold onto my own childlike wonder. After all, it is Christmastime, right? Now is not the time for me to be skeptical. And despite my personal life being a little bit, er, muddy, I’m determined not to let it deter my outlook. I don’t want to be jaded. And if it takes a couple of felt puppets to help me out, well, that’s okay by me.


Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.

What is your favorite reminder of your childhood? For me, it’s Muppet Babies, My Little Pony Tales (the sweet 90s revamp, not the original 80s cartoon), and any Ace of Base song.

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Posted on Oct 3, 2011 in Dear Diary | 104 comments

Dear Diary

Please note: this is a very emotionally heavy post. It may be triggering for those of you who have had or are dealing with an eating disorder. There is also a small amount of profanity in one of the quoted sections that follows. Not that I think you can’t handle it, but as this is usually a family show I just wanted to give you a heads up.

I took a trip over the weekend. Not to a place, but to a time. Specifically, I went to revisit what you might call my version of the Dark Ages.

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An on-and-off journaler for most of my life, I found myself stumbling rapidly back into the past when I came across several of my old diaries. Entries spanned intermittently from 2004 to 2009, carrying me through high school to the end of college and the very worst of my struggles with disordered eating. Reading through them was like seeing snapshot after snapshot of me spiraling down to my very lowest place, while concurrently climbing to my highest weight. What started off as, in my opinion, innocuous teen angst, turned darker and more raw with every page. Cracking open these emotional hydrogen bombs sent me rocketing back to a time when I was so clearly lost. And I don’t think I even realized until now just how damaged I was.

April 4, 2007

Obese, depressed, socially awkward, disgusting, and on top of that, I’m just a fucking failure at every fucking thing I do. No wonder no guy wants me. I’m just going to end up fat & alone, like I am now but with more pets and no friends. You disgust me. You make me want to throw up. You sick, obese cow. You don’t deserve to continue breathing, let alone eating.

I was just shy of 19 when I wrote those words. According to that same entry, I had just weighed in at 213 lbs. I’ve been saying lately that I’m very fortunate not to have received any negative comments on the blog yet, but naturally I fear the inevitable day when someone is cruel to me on here. After taking this (unfortunate? fortunate?) trip down memory lane, however, I don’t think that there’s a single person out there who could be meaner to me than I was to myself.

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2007 seems, without a doubt, to have held the worst of it. Or at least the most detailed parts. I’ve written about my issues with binge eating here on the blog, and lightly touched on the fact that I also dealt with depression. I guess that in the process of healing though, I blocked out (or at least downplayed) the worst of it. Reading my real-time thoughts from this era of my life has made me painfully aware of just how dark things got, how depraved my desires were, and how twisted my methods became, all in the name of “thin”.

March 24, 2007

I can’t believe I keep slipping like this. This really has got to end. Tomorrow you are waking up and either A) going to UREC {the campus gym}, or B) not eating. Those are your two options. And since you can’t really go to UREC… I guess that means NO food for you. You’ve done it before. You can do it again. The one thing you haven’t been doing so far is COMMIT!!

These are just the words that I wrote, of course, not necessarily what actually happened. And while the physical pages of my diaries have stood the literal test of time, so have the actual memories that accompanied them. Thankfully, I’ve changed since then (though my obvious aversion to exercise is clearly something I’m still working on!) and thankfully, I was never very “good” at not eating. I only know that in conjunction with what I wrote, this is what I would tell myself most mornings: Don’t eat. Don’t succumb. Be “strong”. And I’d try to do exactly that for as long as I could. Sometimes I’d hold out until lunch. Sometimes until dinner. On very, very rare occasion, I might “last” until the next day. But fortunately, my body always figured out that I was trying to starve it down to a size 6 before long. Unfortunately, you probably can guess what came after. Enter: the binge.


Summer 2009

There were days that were normal. There were days when I “simply” overate (or ate poorly), but didn’t binge. But there were far too many days filled with subterfuge and lies, hidden and hoarded food, restriction, binges, and even purging.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting I did eventually seek help for my depression (I wasn’t a student there, but was understandably affected by this tragedy.) It just never even occurred to me to give the same sort of attention to my issues with food. I don’t think I understood that most girls didn’t have the same twisted relationship with every meal. And so it continued, and while some days, some weeks, some months got better, I still continued to get bigger. There are entries from the earlier journals I found where I’m cursing myself for weighing 185 pounds, and it makes me so sad. Not because it’s the actual number that matters all that much, nor the fact that I’m not quite back there yet (soon!), but because I simply wish I had known then what I know now.


May 2009

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to share this time of my life with you all. It’s embarrassing. It was a sad, dark time, and I think it would have been easier for me to pack my diaries away and gloss over it with a two-sentence mention followed by 12 pictures of the dogs. I guess I just feel that it’s important to show you where I came from. Or maybe it’s just important to show myself.

We blame our obsession with thinness on so many things (society! the media! the fashion industry!) but often forget that we are our own worst critics. Sure, eventually my weight got to a point where it was a medical concern (or at least, it would surely have become one), but there are a lot of pounds between 185 (arguably average) and 246 (obviously obese). I was my own Mean Girl — my vanity constantly telling me that I needed to be smaller, that I needed to try harder. I pushed myself into my disordered eating, which of course did exactly the opposite of what I wanted in terms of my weight, and I need to own up to that fact. I’m just so thankful that I did eventually hit my tipping point, and, well, you know the rest of the story.

I would be lying to you if I said that it’s been a perfect, binge-free journey since Day 1 of starting this blog. I think that these urges are something that I will have to continue fighting for the rest of my life. Think of me what you will after reading this post, but I feel that rediscovering my diaries is a bit of a Godsend — I’ve been fighting against backsliding particularly hard lately. I’ve been living in a constant state of fear of going back to that place, and I think that may have been a big factor in why I haven’t been making much progress with my weight loss lately. Better to stay here than to take it too far, right? I know now though that I will never spiral that far down again. If nothing else, I know that you won’t let that happen. It’s thanks to you I’ve even made it this far.

Errrrr.
September 2011

There isn’t a moment of the past year that I’ve regretted when it comes to my health (a few unfortunate wardrobe choices though? Perhaps.) I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight towards my goal. I’ve continued to heal from my twisted relationship with food. I’ve grown and evolved in my ability to know myself. And hey, I’ve even run a 5 miler to boot! The only thing I do wish is that I would have had the courage to change earlier.

Thankfully it’s never too late.

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Posted on Sep 20, 2011 in Pup Posts | 41 comments

Daxter Does Life

Clean Daxter

Oh hai there! What’s the happyhaps, peeps? It’s your favorite (don’t worry, I won’t tell Harry) pup Daxter here! I’m taking a tip from my blog dog (er, and cat) pals Murphy and Cody, and reporting for blogging duty to give mom a break after the FIVE miles that she covered yesterday! (The 2.6 of ’em that I did with her got nothin’ on me though!)

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Needless to say, this about sums up how she’s feeling this morning, hehe.

Sorry, Harry, I guess not everyone can pull off the sleepy look like I can!

Que?

I figured that since you all spend time cooing over how freakin’ adorable I am (what can I say? I do what I do), I’d do you a solid and take some time out of my extremely busy napping schedule to say hi. It’s all about making sacrifices, right?

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I know that a lot of you come here to read my mom’s blog because you, like her, are trying to figure out how to lead a life that is both healthy AND happy. And while admittedly I might not know too much about the former (I mean, it’s not like I’m buying my own organic dog food here, folks), I do know a whole lot about how to be happy.

Puppy Dog Eyes.

I lead a pretty good life! So here are a few tips that hopefully you’ll keep in mind as you continue on your journey to find the same.

Dogs like Yogurt too?
Eat good food. The way to anyone’s heart, schnauzer or human alike, is through their stomach!

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Run just for the fun of it. Mom would say that this is impossible ’cause she hates to run, but sometimes it IS fun!

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Stand up for yourself. You ARE worth it.

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It’s okay to be the underdog. The underdog is always the cute one anyway.

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Just, you know, pick your battles.

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Face your fears. Why do you think mom covered all those miles anyway? For fun? HA!

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Don’t worry about getting your paws dirty.

Bath time!
There will always be someone to help clean you up. (And if you’re me, you’re going to get cleaned up A LOT.)

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Make new friends.

Weirdo.
But always make time for family.

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Learn to laugh at yourself. (And not just because you’re funny looking, heehee.)

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Give yourself some credit. Because you are awesome. And I know a lot about being awesome.

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Work hard.

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Play hard.

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Rest hard.

Whaddya want?
Just not too hard. Know your limits.

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And whatever you do, never stop looking forward.

What’s one thing you could stand to learn from your furrier half?

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Posted on Sep 16, 2011 in Dear Diary | 40 comments

My name is Gretchen, and I Used to be Fat.

Since starting my new job roughly 6 weeks ago (JEEBUS, has it really been that long already?), I’ve found myself in an interesting “predicament” (I use that term very loosely here.)

See, to my new coworkers, I look like this:

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Or sometimes this:

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There may or may not have been a robot dancing through the cubes the other day…

But either way, I am (usually) dressed appropriately for work, haha. Actually, I suppose that technically I now look like this:

And while I may not be “skinny” by anyone’s definition, I’m, you know, normal. Most decidedly NOT obese. Soft, cuddly, with a little bit of extra fluff, but nothing to gawk at and certainly nothing to pity (at least not for my weight, hahaha.) So when I started working here, my coworkers had absolutely no idea that I used to look like this:

Or this:


Please excuse the nerd factor of forcing my brother to take a portrait of me with my dogs.

And while some of them have since been turned onto this little ol’ blog (hi guys!) and have probably figured it out by now, most of the people I meet have no idea that I’m a former fatty. And yes, just typing out those words brings a whole mess of self-esteem-bashing thoughts to mind (“Well, I really shouldn’t be saying I’m NOT fat, since I still need to lose more weight…”) but I’m going to try to drown those out with more incessant babbling… starting now.

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See, for over, hmm, at least 13 of my 23 years (I’m ancient, I know), I have struggled with my weight. I wasn’t a chubby child, but I was a pudgy pre-teen, a thickset teenager, and an ample adult, topping off at (to my knowledge) 246 pounds. And while I am aware that my figure will always stray to the zaftig side, there is absolutely no question that I was unhealthy AND unhappy at that weight. No bueno.

But I’ve come a long way in the past year! I’ve lost almost 60 pounds so far, revamped my look (many times over, haha) and my life, and couldn’t be happier for it. I’m obviously still Gretchen, still the same person that I’ve always been, but in some ways I’m not. I’ve changed, I’ve grown, and I’ve evolved. So why is it that I constantly feel the need to tell people about the fact that I, you know, used to be fat?

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It feels like, whether intentional or not, one of the first conversations I have with a new person somehow involves my weight loss. Why do I feel the need to let them make them know this? Let’s be honest, it’s a pretty awkward thing to bring up to someone you don’t really know. Do I really need the validation that much? For them to know this one big accomplishment of my life so far? People don’t go walking around and starting off conversations with “Hi, my name is Dr. Blah Blah and I won the Nobel Prize.” or “Hey there, I’m Yada Yada and I make $350,000 a year.” (I mean, okay, perhaps speed-dating participants might do that, but let’s just say they’re the exception, haha.)

Maybe it’s that I’m just not ready to let go of the person I used to be. I keep reminding you with pictures and stories and reiterations of the same facts, because I want to remind myself. I used to think that once I lost weight, I would never want to look back on myself as an obese person. I would want to forget the past and start anew — as a new person entirely. I guess that just isn’t the case. I don’t want to forget because hindsight is 20/20 and I don’t want to lose the part of me that literally transformed. I don’t want to forget because I don’t want to get back to that place, ever.

I know that this is kind of heavy for a Friday, but it’s just another one of those self-reflection things that seems to hit from time to time. It’s just confusing. Am I supposed to let go of the past so I don’t get down on myself for letting me get that way? So I can move forward? Or am I supposed to keep it constant and present in my life so I don’t ever forget? I know these are not mutually-exclusive things, but it’s just something to think about before announcing my weight to the next stranger I meet, haha.

Do you ever find yourself in a similar predicament? Torn between wanting to forget yourself as the fat/unhealthy/depressed/whatever person, but also wanting to hold onto it?

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