Ok. Vulnerability — here we go.
I could hold all of the fitness, nutrition, food psychology, & lifestyle design coaching certifications in the world, but what really qualifies me to talk to you each day is the heart of where I came from. The deep place in my own life that lead me to study what I talk about so much now.
My first experience with lifting weights was in the basement of a hospital. It was the local fitness center. I was 15. I remember running on the treadmill and a girl one year older showing me how to do dumbbell flyes to perk up my boobs for prom. Yeah. My “sports” participation was dance classes and cheerleading so the hospital fitness center, not the high school weight room, became my home for training. Thinking back, I felt really comfortable there.
In high school, I was a size 9/10 in my Pepe jeans and 125 lbs, but the mirrors told me I looked like a size 22 and that 125 was “fat.” There were girls in my class wearing size zero. Comparison really does suck.
Miraculously, I made it through high school and around age 19 became a group aerobics instructor. Step and water aerobics were my thing, and I found it comforting leading people to exercise. Weird. I was going to college for “business” (I didn’t know why), and spending a lot of time at the gym.
Leading my classes, running, and lifting weights was how I took off my freshman 15 er….30. It should have been named the Taco Bell 30 for me. Country girl moved to the city with fast food all around. Not safe. That was really my first experience with gaining a bunch of weight and doing whatever it took to get it off. Whatever it took included lots of Hydroxycut and driving across the border to Iowa where they still sold Super Diet Max pills with ephedrine. Pills & Potions? I did it.
I got the freshman 30 off and enjoyed it for some time until…….I met the man I was going to marry. Have you ever been so giddy happy in your life that you didn’t pay attention to anything you were eating and certainly weren’t concerned with exercising? That was me.
We liked to drink and eat out. My weight ballooned again. I tried to get some off before the wedding with pills, starving myself to death, and crazy exercise and food plans, but settled around 175 lbs for my once-in-a-lifetime wedding. Isn’t it crazy how these numbers stick in our head and define us?! I remember feeling like I didn’t look good enough on my wedding day. That’s NOT what you should remember from your wedding day.
I never went below that number in my mid-20s. I started having babies, watching TV, and stuffing my mouth with food because I was “eating for two” and had nothing better to do.
Being married to a farmer can be lonely. Food was my best friend.
My security blanket. It made me feel good.
Yes, I worked out. I had a treadmill in the house. Every book, program, workout DVD, food delivery service, potion weight loss pill and prescribed “diet” med from the doctor you can EVER imagine had a place in my life. The picture in this post is only SOME of the things I did to lose weight. To be honest, some of them did work. But nothing can forever mask hating yourself, your body, and having a negative relationship with food.
With my last baby, my son, I ate Ho Ho’s. LOTS of HO HO’s. Boxes of them. Mmmm…. Kellogg Nutri-grain bars in the middle of night with a glass of milk, too. It’s fairly obvious I’m a food addict. I had a serious tendency to use food for emotional reasons. Ya’ think?!
I’ve healed so much in the last 5 years, but I still have to watch what I’m doing. It’s easy to fall back in the pit.
One day, in 2008, I woke up at 260 lbs. Not cool. I really hated myself and who I was. Three beautiful, healthy children I should have enjoyed much more than I did at the time. I was an angry, irritated mother, not full of love, but full of hate for myself. And we all know, what’s on the inside is what shows on the outside. It definitely did.
I hated the person staring back at me when I would look in the mirror. I could hardly look at her. A frumpy, sad, angry mom. I didn’t even recognize myself and only knew how to calm myself with more food. Is this all there is? I’m 32 years old, is this it?
In early 2008, I attended a Beth Moore conference with a good friend in Colorado Springs. People were crying for real, legitimate reasons.
Abuse, death, divorce, disease. Many were literally fighting for life. Then there was me.
I cried because I hated myself, and I had no clue how to get “me” back again. I hated the clothes I wore to that event. Blue cropped sweats way too big and short-sleeved sweatshirt jacket over a men’s white t-shirt. I felt Frumpy. I didn’t feel good in them, and I was hiding a body that I had no respect for.
In late 2008 and 2009, I found comfort in treadmill intervals and resistance training again. Still addicted to food and emotional eating, I did start to see my body change. Now that I am a professional coach, I understand why those two things started transforming my body. THOSE TWO THINGS are used by professional coaches around the world to transform bodies.
I lost some weight and starting feeling more confident, but something was still missing. I still couldn’t look in the mirror and say I liked myself or even liked what my life was about. During this time, my husband and I were not connecting well. I was lost BIG TIME and began looking outside of myself for acceptance, confidence, and emotional security. Something I highly DO NOT RECOMMEND.
Your happiness resides WITHIN your soul. Nothing on the outside can trump that.
It was a rough time. The bottom of the barrel. Figuratively and literally.
I moved myself and my three kids out of our house for a short time. This was breaking up my family.
I had no clue what I was doing. As I sat in an unfamiliar house, I started thinking again about what I was meant to do in life.
What was my purpose? What am I here for?
All my life I wanted to be a dancer, an actress, a performer, and it was clear that was not happening. The pull was still there, and now, I had to find another way to bring those feelings, those emotions back into my life.
ZUMBA, a form of dance and fitness you’ve probably heard of by now, caught my eye and seemed to fit with my passions.
Our family quickly reunited, and we moved back home. Things were “edgy” for several years, but we were together. We were healing — I was healing. I was back in my “safe place” with my best friend and ready to become whatever it was that I was meant to do.
A fresh slate. You’ve heard the phrase “fake it till you make it.” That was my motto.
Upon licensing, I began teaching Zumba classes of all kinds in 2010 and unknowingly healing myself on the inside.
Still, there was fire burning inside of me. It was the personal training manual that had been sitting on my shelf for over 10 years. I’d been a certified aerobics instructor, but the personal trainer course seemed way out of my league. A lot of studying. A lot of questioning myself. Am I too old for this — am I even good enough to do this?
I studied and got certified anyway.
In 2011, I opened a personal training facility, 180 Fitness Training, because I wanted to turn my life around. It turned into so much more. I was healing myself, but the joy that came from seeing others healing in return was something I could never have planned.
I was coaching bootcamps on top of Zumba classes morning and night, experiencing crazy busyness. My family was taking a big hit on my presence (I wasn’t worth much when I wasn’t working,) but I loved it.
I had no clue I was running myself into the ground. Unless you count not having time to take care of myself and plateauing with my own body transformation and weight loss goals.
At that point, there was a missing component that my coaching philosophy needed; something I needed for myself, too. Nutrition Coaching and Food Psychology. More personal mastery coaching work. All the “other stuff” outside of working out. But I had no energy left. I was coaching fitness, not necessarily nutrition, and I know better than anyone exercise can only get a person so far.
I want to
LIVE THE LIFE I SPEAK OF
“How can I coach when I’m not even walking my own talk?”
Towards the end of my 180 Fitness Training days, I found myself going to bed as late as midnight and waking at 3:30 am to make the 20 minute gym commute and train clients at 4:30 am. (sleep is one of the largest regulators of weight…had I known this, I would not have been doing this to myself.)
But I loved it! I loved the people I was working with, and it was hard to say no because I wanted to help them so badly. Plus, I had rent to pay. After several years of doing the “fitness hustle,” a great opportunity presented. It included helping design and operate out of a brand new facility in a neighboring town. They were asking for my expertise!
I couldn’t do everything and made the very difficult decision to close my own facility, become a mobile coach, and help with the new place. Long story short, it didn’t play out as expected which was a blessing in disguise. In the end, I kept all but three of my private clients, gained several more, and began training out of my shop gym on the farm and in clients’ own facilities. To say I had less stress would be a complete understatement. And…I became a better coach.
My clients were getting better results, and I was determined to start taking better care of myself. I wanted to live the life I speak of.
Everything I knew as a coach told me I had to quit lifting and start walking. It was tough, but my body needed consistent sleep (longer than 4 and 5 hours), daily chill time, and some serious food psychology. It made a huge difference! Having a health coach made a huge difference, too. I needed another set of eyes looking in at my life.
My body began to change again and in so many unexpected ways. I not only looked better, but felt amazing. I was healing my body again only this time in self-image and inner happiness. And you know what? Stubborn areas of fat and places on my body I could never change before, began to change.
For the first time in many, many years, maybe all my life, I’m able to look in the mirror (at a slimmer face I might add!) and LIKE who I’m looking at. I’m able to take good care of myself because I love who I am, not because I hate the face looking back at me.
Things I don’t do anymore: quick fixes, program jumping, pills, potions, fake shakes, starve myself, cleanses, fads, crazy workouts, meticulously counting calories day in & day out all year long, track “steps” and much more.
I turn my head to a lot of stuff now because it’s distracting.
I’m fortunate to have seen from the inside what the pros are doing with their clients and get to replicate that.
I passionately study human behavior and more importantly, the psychology of human change.
My REAL CREDENTIALS come from a lifetime of living. That’s what makes me who I am today. I believe passionately in what I stand for because I’ve been on the under side of it all.
Do I struggle? Hell yes! If I didn’t, I don’t think I’d want you to listen to me!
Am I “there” yet with my life? Absolutely not! It’s the journey that makes things interesting. I don’t believe we actually arrive at a destination. I believe as we achieve great things and learn great things on our journey that we raise the bar for more and create a richer journey with even more meaning.
Join me on my Facebook Page, LIFE with JEN where I “Go Live” often to talk about learning self-awareness and seeking life purpose. I like to talk about what that’s looked like on my journey, and I like to feature other women who are living out loud and doing the same. My passion and hope is that we go forth and keep moving forward in all areas of our life as a result of this awareness.
Sometimes we have to get lost in order to find ourselves.
Come hang out with me! >> Click here <<
PS. Watch for my forthcoming Memoir (late 2017) detailing my journey back to myself.