Behind The Butter

Enhance Your Life

Hi guys!

This is a very special first blog post, which will be included in a series of four spread out over the course of this fall. I have been given the unique opportunity by Propel® to blog for their new community called You.Propelled. Basically, this is a motivating program for women to seize the moment and enhance their lives through positive changes and perspectives. I wholeheartedly agree with the You.Propelled mission and am looking forward to partnering with them this fall to reach out to more women in a positive way.

I know most of you are familiar with my personal story of coming to a healthy balance but I thought it was appropriate to share again today. Obviously I haven’t always been at this balanced state for my entire life…it took a lot of baby steps to get to the comfortable place I am today regarding my body, mind and health. There was a time, I tell you, when I stayed up all night long worrying about the chocolate milk shake I had drank or the extra cookies I consumed. I played the calorie game in my head constantly and the gym, sadly, was a place where I would burn off as many calories as I could just so I could eat more later on. The mirror was my enemy and like many teenage girls, I constantly fought a battle in my mind over whether I was really good enough. I look back now at the shattered mindset I had back then and want to cry.

To be totally honest, I’ve always had a thin figure and a fast metabolism. My mom was a healthy cook and every night my family ate homemade meals together at the dinner table. I never once worried about my appearance in high school because I was always surrounded by the positivity of my family, my church and my friends. Calories never even crossed my mind, if you can even believe it. And then I graduated high school. I had my first sip of a beer after high school graduation and had a little too much fun at college parties and late night eating. Let’s just say I gained the freshman fifteen in about two months and for the first time, I looked in the mirror and wasn’t satisfied. I rushed a sorority that first year of college and, again, for the first time I was surrounded by girls who were obsessed with their image and weight. I could feel myself spiraling downwards at a fast pace, and soon it became habit to track calories, try a new diet every week (whatever was the rage at the sorority house) and work out like a fiend. Did I lose weight? No. Was I happy? Certainly not.

The cycle went on for a year and a half. Finally, I broke down. I quit college (can you believe that?!) and moved home to reevaluate my life and pull the pieces of myself back together. I had buried the real Jenna so far down that I didn’t even know who I was anymore….and I was only 19. While I was home, I worked full time, talked to a counselor and got back into yoga and my faith. At the time I thought I was depressed, but I think I was just lost. It was very, very difficult but I weaned myself off of food journaling, calorie counting and other negative behaviors. I stopped going to the gym all together and started practicing yoga daily instead. I picked back up the bible and sat in the back pew of my old church every Sunday. Slowly, Jenna was coming back.

It took a long time and many baby steps to find the balance that works in my life today. Its been five and a half years since the day I reached my breaking point and started to build myself back up again, slowly but surely. Did I lose the freshman fifteen? Yeah…but not on any crazy diet. I lost the weight by quitting the college parties and late night eating. When I moved to Charleston to finish college I started walking everywhere and continued practicing yoga five or six days a week. My diet was clean, but not overly so. I came to the realization that losing ten pounds really, in the grand scheme of things, would not make me any happier. Happiness comes from within, not from the image reflected back to you in the mirror. You may think that if you could just lose those extra five pounds you will reach ultimate happiness in life but let me tell you, you will not. When you stop stressing out about it is when you find the true beauty in yourself.

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This post is sponsored by Propel® for the You.Propelled Program

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82 Comments

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    August 31, 2009 at 9:37 am

    This was a great post to read first thing this morning. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Reply
    Kate
    August 31, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Awesome post. It’s so great to hear about how you overcame the issues that plague so many women. We can all be healthy, balanced and happy!

  • Reply
    Abby
    August 31, 2009 at 9:50 am

    It’s great that you’re getting this opportunity, as I think there are many women out there who have similar stories, but no public outlet to share their success in.
    Just from my reading, I think you realize you are very lucky and will use this platform to reflect all of our stories (in a broad sense, of course) and continue to inspire.
    Have a great Monday!

  • Reply
    Brie
    August 31, 2009 at 9:50 am

    It’s great to hear your story, but I’m surprised you’re supporting Propel–last time I checked it contains HFCS! Gross!

  • Reply
    Lizzie
    August 31, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Wow Jenna – I had no idea about your background. You should be so proud of yourself!! And really, it’s all just beginning for you. I feel like there is definitely some rumbles happening (not just through blogs) that women are seeing (and believing) beyond the sateen of mags/ads etc and beginning to embrace healthier lifestyles and positive sense of self (if that makes sense). Your blog contributes hugely to that, most b/c of your honesty – I think a lot of readers appreciate that. Love the second pic of you!

  • Reply
    Jenn
    August 31, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Thanks, Jenna, for being so honest and sharing your story with us. I sure hope you reach the many young women out there who are struggling with loving themselves for who they are, and not who the media says they should be. You are a great inspiration! Keep the faith, and everything will fall into place:)
    Jenn

  • Reply
    Cait (Cait's Plate)
    August 31, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Love the post Jenna – we have the SAME mentality when it comes to losing weight/appearance/eating, etc. Life is too short to worry about every calorie 😉

  • Reply
    stephanie
    August 31, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Thanks for re-sharing Jenna! It sounds pretty similar to my personal journey as well, and I’m sure many other women.
    Now, at 29 and 9 months after having a baby, I focus on being healthy, strong and confident for my family, and I feel the BEST I’ve ever felt. Maybe not the thinnest, but perspective certainly shifts with life lessons and I no longer obsess about it or feel enslaved to a number on a scale or calorie list; much more freeing than being a certain pants size! I look forward to reading more of your Propel work!

  • Reply
    skinnyrunner
    August 31, 2009 at 9:55 am

    what a great story and so well put! thank you for sharing. we all need to hear something positive and healthy like that.

  • Reply
    Susan
    August 31, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Awesome post Jenna – Thank you. And it came on a day when I really needed it. Thank you. Can’t wait for the rest…

  • Reply
    Brit
    August 31, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Thanks for being an inspirational! I read your blog on a daily basis! I think you’re an amazing role model for women out there! Well, thanks for sharing your story with us! =) I hope your day is already off to a great start!

  • Reply
    Recipes For Creativity
    August 31, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Girl, you’re five and a half years younger than me but still an incredible inspiration to me – thank you! Age has nothing to do with wisdom!

  • Reply
    Jess (Fit Chick in the City)
    August 31, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Thank you for sharing your story and congrats on the new gig! C

  • Reply
    Allie
    August 31, 2009 at 10:09 am

    what an awesome post jenna, not because i think you are so different or unique, but because you faced your challenges head on and came out a healthier and happier person. good for you and thank you for sharing this.

  • Reply
    *Andrea*
    August 31, 2009 at 10:10 am

    gahhh i love this post!!! you are so beautiful inside and out. i have struggled too with the freshman 15 (err 25) and your blog (and others) have helped me to slowly LOVE food, preparation, and taking care of my body. thanks for this 🙂

  • Reply
    Diane, Fit to the Finish
    August 31, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Great post. You have a lovely outlook on like, especially for someone so young. Congratulations on the new opportunity!

  • Reply
    Shannon (The Daily Balance)
    August 31, 2009 at 10:14 am

    great post, looking forward to the others!

  • Reply
    Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope
    August 31, 2009 at 10:20 am

    What a great post! And I’m so excited for you… the Propel campaign sounds like the perfect opportunity for you. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Ellen (Peace In Motion)
    August 31, 2009 at 10:20 am

    It’s so great to hear you conquered the calorie game.

  • Reply
    Lizzy
    August 31, 2009 at 10:24 am

    most amazing post! Jenna your story is truly uplifting! Thanks for retelling it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Nellie
    August 31, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Such an amazing post, Jenna! I’ve gone through so many of the same struggles (coincidentally, I just posted about it on my blog) and am currently struggling to find me again. You’re such a great role model for the Propel campaign! I’m going to follow your lead and take up yoga again!

  • Reply
    Neela Marijana
    August 31, 2009 at 10:29 am

    i loved this post jenna. as a recovering distorted eater i can not stress enough how important it is to make sure that young girl are made more aware of taking care of their bodies.
    thank you for this beautiful reminder

  • Reply
    dee (the apple hill adventurer)
    August 31, 2009 at 10:30 am

    great story, i wasnt aware of it.

    i had a really similar situation. i was fine with my weight my whole life, until college. (i moved from a orchard town in the mountains to a city a few hours out from hollywood – the plastic surgery capitol!) and i was suddenly surrounded by tall, SUPER SKINNY, beach bunnies, and i just started seeing myself as this fat disgusting mountain hick or something. it really wrecked my self confidence and i went WAY overboard with dieting and exercise just so i could be closer to what they all looked like. i cause my body a lot of damage, and mentally i was the most unhappy i have ever been. it has taken me about 4 years, but i am finally happy with myself just how i am, and i only run and do yoga now because it makes me feel good.

    i am sad to look back at a young, lost me as well. if only i knew then what i know now! i totally lost myself as well, and i am just beginning to find myself again. it sure is a rough process, but i am proud of you, myself, and anyone else who has had the strength to battle with something like this.

  • Reply
    Cynthia (It All Changes)
    August 31, 2009 at 10:31 am

    This was great to read…Thank you for sharing. It’s great to know that people who look like they’ve never struggled had their own struggles too.

  • Reply
    brandi
    August 31, 2009 at 10:36 am

    i totally agree about finding yourself when you quit obsessing over it 🙂 great story, Jenna – thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Christina MINDFUL LIVING
    August 31, 2009 at 10:42 am

    i surprisingly have actually never read your story before! thanks for sharing jenna 😉

  • Reply
    Megan
    August 31, 2009 at 10:45 am

    What a great post to read to start off my day! Thanks for sharing your story again, Jenna. You and your words are so inspiring. Have a beautiful Monday!

  • Reply
    Katie
    August 31, 2009 at 11:04 am

    That sounds like my life story except I never gained the weight just am always in fear I will. I’m working on it slowly but surely, but some days it’s just hard and stress brings it back. I’m hoping to get to that point you at. I’m now where exercise is fun and if I don’t want to do it that day I don’t, but there is still room for improvement.

  • Reply
    Joelle (The Pancake Girl))
    August 31, 2009 at 11:08 am

    What an inspiring post, thanks!

  • Reply
    MelissaNibbles
    August 31, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Great post and thank you for sharing your story.

  • Reply
    Allie (Live Laugh Eat)
    August 31, 2009 at 11:18 am

    I went through something very similar to your experience here at school 2 years ago (at the age of 19 too!). I’m still working on getting through it every day and seeing you where you are today gives me hope. Thanks for sharing your story with us

  • Reply
    Leading Lady Lis
    August 31, 2009 at 11:28 am

    well written, Jenna. Good job and thanks for sharing your healthy outlook with us. And congratulations on working with Propel!

  • Reply
    Marta
    August 31, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Thank you so much for sharing that with all of us. I t was nice to know that no one is perfect and that we all have something we can always work on and continue to work on trough our lives. You have know idea how that post inspired me.

  • Reply
    Julia
    August 31, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Thank you so much for this honest and inspiring post! That made my day:) xxx Julia (Taste of Living)

  • Reply
    Mandy A
    August 31, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I have read your story before… but love reading it over and over again! It’s such a great reminder of how far you’ve come… and so incredibly motivating! Thank you for sharing it again!

  • Reply
    sheri
    August 31, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Hi Jenna, what a great post to read on a Monday morning. So positive and motivating! Thank you for sharing. Also congrats on working with Propel! 🙂

  • Reply
    angharad
    August 31, 2009 at 11:43 am

    It was lovely to revisit your journey with you! I am in complete agreement about your attitude to healthy living. Once the obsessing stops, the happiness pours in. Congrats on the Propel gig! Very exciting things obviously still happening for you!

  • Reply
    Katie Davis
    August 31, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for posting this…you literally voiced my thoughts about the subject completely! It is still something I struggle with from time to time, why as women we find new ways each day to berate ourselves I’ll never know. But I am trying to be more conscience for it and just move on to better thoughts or things that make me happy when those thoughts creep up!

  • Reply
    Kiala
    August 31, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you still food journal-ing? Don’t you tell the internet about every single thing you put in your mouth on a daily basis?

  • Reply
    Runeatrepeat
    August 31, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    It was great to read your story and see that it wasn’t always easy for you. Glad you continued to make healthy decisions and be an example.

  • Reply
    maggie
    August 31, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Wow…your story really touched me. I am going through exactly what you did when you were 19…right now. I’m slowly rebuilding who I am and finding out what makes me happy…but I know it does take time. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    Maggie

  • Reply
    Jess
    August 31, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Jenna, that was a BEAUTIFUL post. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. It makes it seem possible to do it ourselves.

  • Reply
    katie
    August 31, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    thanks for this great post. really encouraging!

  • Reply
    Daria (Summer of the CSAs)
    August 31, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Wonderful post, Jenna. I’m one of countless women with a similar story. I wish that I’d had more access to positive messages about healthy living rather than to messages about how women should be thin and attractive to be worth anything when I was going through my weight gain/eating disorder issues. It’s a tough culture we live in, which makes your current attitude towards food and health all the more commendable.

  • Reply
    Kristin
    August 31, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Your story is so inspiring, thanks for posting it again!!

    xo
    K

  • Reply
    Sri
    August 31, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Hi Jenna,
    I wanted to let you know, you’re fonts are a little off on this post. They seem to be alternating between two fonts. Not sure if that is intentional, but thought you might want to know!
    Have a great day!

  • Reply
    Julie
    August 31, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I think your story is indeed important, but I’d just like to add that not all sororities induce disordered eating. I worry more about what I eat and how much I exercise now b/c I read too many blogs. In college, in my sorority, I indulged in good food whenever I wanted to and never once felt guilty about my body or that extra beer I had. Everyone has a different experience for sure.

    Also – I’d just like to add that Propel is overly sweet and sort of gross. I mistakenly bought two boxes of the powdered stuff to add to my water for my long workouts and it was SO SWEET, like rot-your-teeth sweet.

  • Reply
    Lia
    August 31, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Definitely a nice refreshing post. This is something so many women go through, and at that age it seems is the pattern. It is something that you didn’t continue the self-destructive mentality. I, like most, went through practically the same thing, and also managed, and still managing, to get out of that mentality. I am trying to teach girls here to appreciate their bodies and all that it can do for them through a women’s fitness class I started. It makes me SO happy to know that so many people read your blog and you are putting out that message. I hope those women who feel stuck in that lifestyle can come to learn that there really is more to life than being afraid of food and all that goes along with that. It is the women who continue to think that way that make me so sad because all they want is to be happy, but they don’t understand quite how to get there.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    August 31, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Great post Jenna! I can’t wait to read the rest 🙂

  • Reply
    Ali
    August 31, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    That is a great post! I enjoyed reading your story. I feel like a lot of people (including me) can relate to it!

  • Reply
    Kristen @ Simply Savor
    August 31, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    i love this jenna, you truly are an inspiration 🙂 can’t wait to read more

  • Reply
    Chloe
    August 31, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Love this post Jenna. You write so well and are honest about your story and the path to get you where you are now. It’s very inspiring to read about someone who has made a positive change in their life, so thank you!

  • Reply
    Susan
    August 31, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    I gotta admit, I got a lot happier when I lost my weight! :\ Of course, the lifestyle changes I made that led to that weight loss are probably where much of the happiness comes from. But still, it’s nice to like what I see in the mirror now 🙂

  • Reply
    Kate
    August 31, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Beautiful post, Jenna. I have to say that I think you have the healthiest attitude regarding food–you eat what you want in moderation and it is so refreshing to see someone who doesn’t stress when ultra-healthy food isn’t available or when you eat a bit more than you needed to to feel satisfied. I truly admire your mindset towards food and fitness!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    August 31, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    great post! words for all of us to live by!

  • Reply
    Nicole
    August 31, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you Jenna so much for sharing your story. Reading stories like yours inspires me to regain the focus and balance I had in my life, perhaps also before the days of college parties.

  • Reply
    Beth @ CrossBorderCravings
    August 31, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Great post Jenna! I’m liking this You.Propelled program a lot.

    I think I’m currently on the journey to find a healthy balance. For the most part I’m a happy, healthy girl, but once in a while I feel myself slipping into older, more obsessive habits. Blogs like yours are such an inspiration and a reminder that balance is important, not strict rules!

  • Reply
    Tammy (Defining Wellness)
    August 31, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    You know I love this topic! 🙂 The great thing about the blogging community is that we can all empower one another to stop the negative self-talk and love ourselves. Life is way too short for anything else, and there is just so much more that’s important out there.

  • Reply
    Liz
    August 31, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Wow, so inspirational! It really is true, happiness is not about a number on the scale, or being “skinny”. You hit the nail right on the head with this one. Thanks for such a positive post that most likely affect a bunch of people in positive ways!

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    August 31, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I needed to read this today. Wonderful post Jenna, loved it.

  • Reply
    Kiersten
    August 31, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Lovely post Jenna! And thanks, I needed to read something like that today.

  • Reply
    Jenna
    August 31, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    what a great post jenna!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    August 31, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Jenna:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and congrats on the Propel deal!

  • Reply
    Taylor
    August 31, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Jenna,

    You are so inspiring and your story and spirit are so uplifting. You make me realize that it doesn’t matter if I gained 2lbs or have a breakout, in the grand scheme of things. Kudos on an awesome post!

  • Reply
    Sara
    August 31, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Fantastic post with a wise, refreshing perspective. Thanks again for sharing your story and being such a relatable figure. The health community thanks you!

  • Reply
    rhodeygirl
    August 31, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I am very happy that you have found something that works for you and are in a place that makes you happy, but I don’t understand how your blog is any different than food journaling? Thoughts?

    • Reply
      jenna
      August 31, 2009 at 3:51 pm

      Rhodeygirl,

      I guess I don’t think of this as food journaling as much as I think of it as my job….when I food journaled I had a separate journal and was sort of obsessive over it. This blog is my fun job and I love it!

  • Reply
    Organic Ashley
    August 31, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    beautiful post jenna!! I am currently on that quest. Although I am also currently dealing with an pretty intense bout of IBS I know that someday that real Ashley will start to come back and I will feel healthy and alive again. You are an inspiration. Thank you!!

  • Reply
    sandhiya
    August 31, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Jenna,
    Thanks for this post. I was really very frustrated over this weekend with few people obsessing over my weight loss like I was a freak out of Ripley’s believe it or not..after a few words you want people to go beyond your appearance and make more meaningful conversations.

  • Reply
    Jess
    August 31, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I have struggled with disordered eating and have just recently come to a point where I can say I’ve put it in the past.
    Thank you so much for sharing your struggle and journey with us; hearing about your success is so uplifting! You are a fabbbb role model 🙂

  • Reply
    rhodeygirl
    August 31, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    thanks for clarifying jenna!

  • Reply
    Heather
    August 31, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    So beautiful, so true, so inspiring. Love you Jenna!

  • Reply
    Katie
    August 31, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Wow! That was an amazing post! I feel the same way now as you did when you were 19. I feel like if I just loose the extra weight, BAM! My life will be perfect and I will be happy. It’s nice to know that there are others who have gone through this, and have made it out healthy!
    I look forward to your posts everyday! Keep it up! Thanks so much for your inspiration:)

  • Reply
    Taylor
    August 31, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    This was a very great post Jenna! I completely can relate (not to the fast metabolism/gaining weight in college part) but to the excessive exercising, constantly thinking about my calories, burning off in order to eat/drink more later part. You’ve come so far, found a great path, and have found special people who support you along the way. It’s so TRUE! How on earth can you enjoy life if you don’t enjoy yourself first?!

  • Reply
    Simone
    August 31, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Reading this is like reading about myself (minus the turning my life around, finding who I am again, and losing the excess wait part…but hopefully that is to come in my future?!). I truly loved reading this post because it really helps girls like me realize that we are not alone, calorie counting and all. Anyways, I do hope you continue to write posts like the one above every so often. It really hit close to home and currently has me re-evaluating my life and the direction to which I would like it to go. Thank you Jenna!

  • Reply
    Bevin
    August 31, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    what a beautiful post! i went through a similar experience and just love what you have to say. thanks so much for sharing, Jenna!

  • Reply
    lena
    August 31, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    great cool post! thanks for sharing! a real timely reminder for me! 😛 and the bible quote too! have a great day!

  • Reply
    Chrissy
    September 1, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Amazing, Jenna! I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months and never knew that about you. I just admire you so much because you eat healthy- and enough- but still enjoy the food and aren’t obsessed with calories. And you exercise to feel good, not to lose weight. Your earlier obsession with weight is sort of like me. I’m 16 and a recovered bulimic, but I still struggle with anorexia and occasional binge eating. I’ve been doing this since I was 11 and I’m sick of it! Right now I’m trying to gain a little weight- healthily, not by bingeing on junk food!- and be happy with my body again. Hopefully I can make the change that you did. You’re really inspiring, thanks so much for sharing your story. xx

  • Reply
    Nicole
    September 1, 2009 at 3:32 am

    Wow, thank you! It is nice to know that someone else went through the same thing as I did in college! Except that I was on the diet pills and got really really scary skinny looking…
    Now, I respect my body. Yoga, running, and triathlon really does help with that! Now, I focus on what my body can do and how it feels, NOT how it looks. Thank you again for your honesty!

  • Reply
    Madelin @ What is for breakfast?
    September 1, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Great stuff Jenna! I really like your bikini by the way!

  • Reply
    Kates
    May 5, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I just started reading your blog this week and found this post! It is so good to know that I’m not the only one who had to consciously grow myself out of negative body image/eating/exercising/self-esteem habits in college. I’m now about to graduate and have the best relationship with my body ever! Following blogs like yours really helps me stay motivated and mindful of how I got to where I am today.

  • Reply
    Nellie
    November 25, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Jenna, I found your blog about a month ago and have been exploring it and following it every day. I just came across this post. You are such an inspiration! I had the exact same experience in college. I am still working on loving my body and (maybe) loosing the weight. I have mini- break downs every now and then, but about a year ago I found Baptiste yoga and it has changed my life. I am hoping to do teacher training in the fall! 🙂 I am starting my own blog as a celebration of life and faith…. I don’t expect ppl to read it, but it sure is fun to create something that chronicles my journey!

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