This is me, take it or leave it

Hi there! My name is Jenny. I am a mother of 4, married to a wonderful man for 9 1/2 years now. Before I really get going, I thought I might start off by letting you get to know me a little bit. Some of this is really hard to put out there for everyone, but I feel it is important that if you are going to follow along in any way, shape, or form, that maybe you should get to know what you are getting into.

When I was very young, it was just my mom and I. We lived in a very small house behind my great grandmother. My mom went to work at my Grandparents’ hotel and I spent every day with Gram. She was like another mom to me and taught me about love and kindness, but also to be a strong, independent girl. When I was 3, my mom remarried and a year later I was adopted by my Dad. I could not have chosen a better father for me if I ever tried. I was (and still am) very much a “daddy’s girl”. We did everything together. He took me hunting with him, worked on cars with him, we all went fishing and camping. He even tried to teach me how to do cartwheels and was at every home game to watch me cheer and to as many track meets he could make it to. Growing up, he was my very best friend.

Growing up is hard and while all of that sounds like it was all rainbows and gumdrops, there was always something nagging at me. I was often compared to other people, put down, told that I was going to end up like other kids who were making poor choices. I was often reminded that I wasn’t as smart as other people and made to feel inferior. I often thought to myself that I just wasn’t good enough and that I never would be. Had I been “good enough” maybe my biological father would have cared more to get to know me. Had I been “good enough” maybe school would have been easier, maybe I would have been one of the “popular” kids. Had I been “good enough” maybe I would have felt like my life was worth something. Once, I asked a family member what I ever did to make them proud of me. That is all I really wanted after all. I just wanted someone to be proud of me, like they were of my sister who didn’t have to study a day in her life and got straight A’s. This person told me that they were proud of me because I was pretty. As much as that was intended to be a compliment, at least I hope this person meant it that way, I took it more like an insult. I had nothing to do with being “pretty”. That was pure genetics and was the last thing I wanted to hear. Again, I was left feeling worthless, because I believed at the time that in the 15 years of my life, I had not been able to actually do anything that would make someone proud. It was then that I decided that my life was not worth living. I made a plan and wrote a letter to my parents telling them that I was going to kill myself and put myself and everyone who has ever known me out of misery. Because I felt that they would all be better off without me there. My mom woke me up as soon as she found my letter and took me downstairs to talk. The only thing that kept me going was that she brought up Gram, my great grandmother, and how she would feel if I were to go through committing suicide. I was taken to the doctor soon after and diagnosed with depression and put on “happy pills”. I took them for a while, but decided that I wasn’t going to do it anymore and found ways to help myself cope with my feelings. At 16, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to care what other people thought of me anymore and I was going to do for me. Forget everyone else, I couldn’t make them happy anyway, so why worry about it. I was just going to worry about making myself happy and screw them.

I dove into sports hardcore and just tried to keep myself busy. In college, I cheered and ran on the track team. I was also the university’s first woman pole vaulter. I was striving to be there very best I could be and while others didn’t know it, I competed with them every day at practices. I worked out like a mad woman in the gym 2 hours every day lifting. I was on the track running every day except Sunday. I worked my ass off in classes and ended up on the Dean’s list with a 4.0! But to some people, that still wasn’t good enough. I was proud of myself though, and that is all that mattered to me at the time. My sophomore year, I met my biological father, his wife and 6 more siblings that I didn’t know I had. I loved meeting the kids! No matter what, they were blood relatives and they were part of me. It was a little awkward at first meeting my biological father though. He hadn’t told the other kids about me. He kept me a secret for YEARS. The oldest of his other children was 15 at the time we met, and she had only found out about me because someone accidentally let it slip that she had a big sister. There I was again, feeling that I was the “black sheep”, an embarrassment, a dirty little secret. Just when I thought I had figured out how to feel good about myself, I went right back down again. I started going to church then and dove even deeper into keeping myself preoccupied with classes, work, track & field and then coaching the junior high girls’ sprinters too. I found my worth. I found my passion and I found kids that looked up to me and even thanked me for pushing them to do some of the toughest workouts I could think of.

In college, I knew I wasn’t going to go to the Olympics or anything so I had dreams and aspirations of joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation. My goal was to graduate from college and become the next “Clarice Starling”. (Please tell me that you know who that is. I don’t want to feel like I am aging myself here, but “The Silence of the Lambs” was a FANTASTIC movie). The Monday before graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Psychology, I fell in a pole vault accident and my dream of being in the FBI went when my knee dislocated. I couldn’t even walk let alone pass a physical test to work for the Fed’s. I had 2 surgeries to repair the damage on my knee. Nobody was going to tell me what I couldn’t do and I set out to show everyone wrong. When my physical therapist told me that I would not sit “Indian style” ever again, I made it my mission to prove him wrong. I made myself so proud when I walked in, hopped up on the table and sat there with my legs crossed waiting to begin PT for the day. The look on his face was priceless! If you couldn’t tell already…I am just a little bit determined. 😉

After being released from PT and going back out into the real world and going to work, I realized that I didn’t quite have the same abilities that I had in the past, nor the resources. I had been a “poor college kid” and had been unable to work for a while due to not being able to walk around without crutches or just being limited in what I could do with my knee still healing. I couldn’t afford a gym membership and the only other thing I knew was running and well…I couldn’t exactly do that. Even now, 13 years later, I can jog very slowly only just under a mile. Those all sound like a bunch of excuses, and maybe they were, but at the time, they were my reality. I did what I was “supposed” to do and found a job, went to work and did what I needed to do day by day to just get by.

I met my husband in my first “big girl job” out of college. We had a couple of babies (3 to be exact) and had an active stepson that kept us busy with sports. I didn’t really think about working out and being healthy at the time, because I guess I was in denial. Being fit and being thin was always something that just happened for me and even after having 3 kids, I saw myself in that same way. When my first son was diagnosed at 3 years old with Autism, my husband and I put all of our effort into him. Shawn did everything in his power to get the right resources for him to help him in his own struggles. I took him to his OT and Speech Therapy sessions. And I just put myself on the back burner, because I was fine. I had bigger things to worry about and didn’t think I needed to worry about working out. That is…until it hurt to sit down with my jeans buttoned and I threw my back out trying to mop the floor. That is when I really looked at myself, got on the scale and was MORTIFIED! Here I was under this diluted impression that I still weighed 120lbs and had a killer bod. In reality, I weighed 167lbs (I forgot to mention that I am 5’2.5” tall) and my mother informed me that I looked like I was pregnant. Gee, thanks mom. Something had to change, after realizing that, I became very insecure. I was embarrassed when my husband walked into the bathroom as I was getting out of the shower. I started covering up with pillows or blankets whenever I sat on the couch so nobody saw my stomach hanging out over my pants when I sat. I started wearing very loose clothing to hide from the world. Hello depression rearing its ugly head again. My perception of self-worth and body image went plummeting.

While working for a call center that took calls for infomercial sales, I won a free copy of a “starter” workout called TurboFire. I had never heard of this before working for the company and actually had never heard of the company that made and sold the program (Beachbody) before that. I thought I would give it a shot since I obviously needed to make some changes. I tried the first workout on the DVD called Fire Starter. I could barely breathe my first time through, but it was fun, so I kept going. I also started looking on Pinterest for different workouts I could do at home to get me back to my old self again. I wasn’t seeing extreme results or anything, but I was determined. I loved doing the TurboFire workouts so much, that I talked my husband into getting the full program when our taxes came in. As soon as the program came in, I left my Pinterest workouts behind and focused solely on TurboFire for 90 days. In that time period, I lost 32lbs! I was so excited and even my mom told me that I had done a good job because I hadn’t looked pregnant any more. As backhanded as it sounds, it was still a compliment and I was going to run with it.

That is me. This is who I am and where I came from. I realized that I have rambled on for long enough. I invite you to stay tuned as I embark on another journey. I have started a new program called Hammer & Chisel. Today is day 3 of 60! I promise to let you know how it goes and if brave enough will share my before and after pics when all is said and done.




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