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