Over the past few months it has become really important to me to start opening up and being more REAL with you about my life, experiences, and thoughts when it comes to wellness. If you’ve been following Hungry Blonde for a while (or even further back to my Girl Meets Life days), you’ve seen me go through about 94697 evolutions. The funny thing is, I’m actually finding myself back to where it all began over 7 years ago! So it’s about time I shared my full story of discovering healthy living.
If I had to summarize the “why” behind Hungry Blonde in a nutshell, it would be this: to share my experiences in order to inspire you to live YOUR healthiest life – showing the balance between healthy living while still experiencing and enjoying life to the absolute fullest.
I’ve realized, though, that I’ve never actually fully shared my story as to why I’m passionate about that! Le duh, Gracie. I think I dabbled in it back in GML, but I figured it was about time to get my story in its entirety here on Hungry Blonde. So…here we go!
(Malibu Farm, Malibu CA)
As a child, I had virtually zero knowledge or awareness of what being “healthy” meant. With the exception of complaining but whyyyyy when my mom insisted on baby carrots with dip being my after-school snack, I was totally naive, and I’m glad that I was. I won’t get preachy here, but I’m personally so happy that my mom/parents never made being healthy “a thing,” because I was just a kid! My mom did an incredible job of making sure we ate balanced, but I never once heard her talk about dieting or anything like that. In fact, I probably didn’t even know what a diet was until middle school.
Pretty much my entire childhood I was a bean pole. My favorite thing to eat was pasta with butter (#fancy), I was always running around outside making up weird games, and there was zero Hungry Blonde in sight. I took up sports and other activities (dance, gymnastics, etc.) as I got older, but it was always for fun rather than any sort of exercise routine. It was around 10th grade that things started to change.
(Barely Bread grain-free bagel with peanut butter& strawberries)
In 10th grade was when I began having my thyroid issues (which I outline in this post), as well as being put on the birth control pill to regulate my cycle. Once again – I won’t get preachy – but I believe that was terrible advice from my doctor at the time. My body was still developing, I didn’t know I had the thyroid issues (yet), and so my hormones & body were just like WTF are you doing, girl?!
Probably the biggest effect of all of that was the fluctuations in my weight. I went from being teeny tiny to an average teenage weight/size, which I actually was really happy about at first. Then I gained about 20 pounds in a few months time (due to Hypothyroidism), followed by losing about 40 when my thyroid went psycho in the other direction (Hyperthyroidism).
That was the absolute lowest of the low (literally and figuratively). It was the beginning of my senior year, and I was absolutely way too thin. I was so insecure about it and desperately wanted to just look normal (and have boobs like all high school girls do, haha). It didn’t help that rumors began to swirl about me having an eating disorder. To prove everyone wrong I would attempt to eat ALL the food in front of people so they didn’t believe the rumors, but all I would be left with was a stomach ache and a still embarrassingly-thin frame.
Thankfully I got to the point where I stopped caring what other people thought (my family and close friends knew what was going on, and that’s all that mattered), and I decided to get serious about my health. For the first time in my life I began to learn about nutrition in order to do whatever I could to heal my hormonal issues and gain weight. After about a year, my body finally started to get back to normal. I really can’t say for certainty if it was because of my focus on nutrition or just my thyroid levels naturally balancing out, but I didn’t really care. I was just so happy to be NORMAL, especially before going into my college years.
(Sidecar Doughnuts, Costa Mesa CA)
I went into college feeling like a million bucks. I ended high school on a high note, my weight was back to normal, I got into a fun social circle, and things were just all around looking up. In my first year I lived on campus, and let’s just say I wasn’t prepared for what my eating situation would look like. While it’s definitely possible to find healthy options in the cafeteria, it was way easier to find the dessert table ifyouknowwhatImean. After a couple of months, I realized that wasn’t the best new habit to have, so I decided to take that knowledge about nutrition I learned in high school and put it back to use.
Here’s the thing, though – the nutrition tools/information at that time were totally off, in my opinion. I ended up embracing the whole low fat/calorie counting thing. Looking back I’m like WHAT was I thinking? But the truth is that was the information that was out there, and I just didn’t know any better! I had good intentions, but I was totally misinformed.
I feel like this is the classic story for all new college students, right? We hear about the “freshman 15” and do what we can to avoid it, but we were just so young and misinformed (side note – it’s refreshing to see so many college students on Instagram these days learning how to eat healthy in college the RIGHT way. Bravo to all of you!).
Anyway, thanks to a classic prescription of calorie counting and cardio on the elliptical machine a few time a week, I was able to stay at a happy weight throughout college. But, as you might assume, I wasn’t actually healthy. Very little vegetables were consumed, and Clif Bars were my lunch on many occasions. But still, I just didn’t know any better.
After college I ended up moving back home for about 6 months. It was at this time that I discovered blogs, and I began reading and following them semi-obsessively. I am SO grateful that I found blogs, because I feel like that’s how I started to discover what real nutrition was actually about and see it implemented in real life by other people. I began to do much more research outside of the nutrition I thought I knew, and I started implementing it in my own life through cooking healthier, adding strength training to my fitness routine, and eventually I started a blog of my own to document it all.
Girl Meets Life (which was originally Girl Meets Health) was such an amazing way to connect with other people who were likeminded and passionate about healthy living. I still didn’t really know what I was doing, but I enjoyed learning along the way and finding such an amazing sense of community. But then, as I geared up to move to New York, that passion of mine began to fade in comparison to life in the big city.
moving to New York
When I moved to New York, just about every care in my life other than experiencing the city to the fullest went out the window. My life became busier than I ever imagined possible (in a good way). I started a new fast-paced job, was making all new friends, and was out just about every single night. I didn’t really get into the food scene at first because…well, I was more into the nightlife scene for a while. Thankfully I never overdid it too much with that, but my habits were still anything but healthy.
Ironically I actually ended up even thinner than I was in college. I was walking literally everywhere, and even though I was eating like crap (I’m talking like, McDonalds and Crumbs Cupcakes on the reg) I wasn’t putting on weight. Jessi and I used to joke about this, but the truth was that because we were so busy at work and then would usually go out right afterward (sometimes until 4am), we were really only having one big-ass meal a day. Unintentional Intermittent Fasting, I suppose? 😛
Over time that lifestyle began to wind down, and I started to remember how much I loved that whole healthy living thing. I also started getting more into the New York food scene and wanting to try all of the incredible restaurants the city had to offer.
(Burger Joint, NYC)
When I found my life in New York beginning to slow down (which, let’s be real – that never really happens), I began to rediscover my passion for wellness & healthy living. As I got older I became more interested in nutrition for the same reason I originally did back in high school, rather than the more vain motivation in college.
I started to truly learn how eating certain ways made me feel not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. I dug deeper into nutrition and found that a lot of my previous beliefs were actually incorrect (i.e. fat is actually good for you, calories aren’t necessarily “just” calories, etc.). I gathered all of this information, but most importantly I began to find what worked best for me and MY body & lifestyle. It led me to the most balanced I’ve ever been when it came to healthy living, both how I eat and how I move (I’ll have to share my fitness story in another post!).
(High protein gluten-free Breakfast Power Plate)
the evolution of Hungry Blonde
As I entered my late-20’s my lifestyle continued to change for the better. I continued to fuel my body with better foods, supplements, habits, and workouts. I also found myself becoming more and more passionate about the New York food scene. I’ve always loved food and dining out, but there’s just nothing like the dining experience in New York City (it’s seriously my favorite thing to do).
Around that time was also when my excitement about Girl Meets Life started to wane, so I decided to create a separate anonymous Instagram account to share my passion for food. Hungry Blonde was born in 2014 (but really started to get going in 2015), and I couldn’t believe how quickly it started to grow! Eventually I decided that there were two blogs but only one of me, so I made the difficult decision to bring GML to a close and begin a new chapter with Hungry Blonde. I’ll be completely honest – there are still times that I look back and miss the GML days. But the truth is that Hungry Blonde is the perfect fit for where I’m at in life now. I see myself continuing to be passionate about wellness and enjoy sharing it with the incredible community I’ve found through other blogs and Instagram.
I have no idea how Hungry Blonde will evolve or where it will lead, but I cannot wait to find out. Perhaps more travel, recipe development, videos…? Who knows, but all I know is that right now my goal is to share my personal experiences with you in hopes that I can provide encouragement and inspiration as you navigate your own journey of healthy living!
(Dolce Italian, Miami FL)
today // my health philosophy
I’ve always been wary to share my “health philosophy” because…well, I’m not an expert! And I probably never will be. But I have definitely learned a lot over the past few years when it comes to healthy living, and if I had to sum it up into a few points it would be these:
- There’s nothing wrong with following a certain diet. There’s nothing wrong with NOT following a certain diet. Every body is different and every person is different. You have to find what works for YOU.
- Healthy living is not just about what you eat or how you move. Tending to your emotional & mental health, spirituality, sleep & relationships are – in my opinion – even more important.
- A healthy lifestyle should never come at the expense of living your best, most joyful life. Your healthy decisions should only CONTRIBUTE to your most fulfilling life – not ever take away.
Wow, it feels so good to have that documented from start to finish! Until the next chapter needs to be written, at least 😉 Thank you so much to all of you who have followed along my journey for so long, it means more to me than you know. xoxo GG