JXJ is 48 Today: Teeny Tiny Choices – 4 Things

So here I am. The 48th anniversary of the day of my birth. What do I have to say?

I’m just grateful and blessed, first of all. I feel comfortable in my own skin for the first time in years. I treat myself better, talk to myself better and being kind to myself has manifested positively in so many ways.

Truthfully though, I’m really over birthdays.  Today feels like any other day. And while its a cool day to receive all the Facebook greetings from all facets of my past and present, I don’t think a birthday really represents much as we age. It just feels like, yep…one step closer to bein’ old.

Mike and I in Philly (visiting dear friends) after competing (yes, effing competing) in CrossFit Festivus Masters Competition.

I think its because as we age, there are other milestones and life events that begin to feel more significant.  Whether its our children’s birthdays, anniversaries – you name it.  Other events can become more defining to us.  Sometimes they are positive and other times they are traumatic, like the loss of a spouse, child or someone close to you.

I have a different date now that feels more like a birthday and more worth celebrating than anything else.

October 4, 2014

My rebirthday. The date I finally put myself before anything else. The date I finally found a path to health that was lasting.  The date I stopped making excuses. The date I was going to get healthy – or die trying. (How’s that for irony)?

Its not that I didn’t try over all those years. Gawd knows I tried everything at lease three times.

But today, there is a clear dividing point in my life. My obese chapters from my 20’s to my early 40’s. And there is everything after October 4, 2014.

You might be saying, “Jen, celebrate yourself today! Its good for you!” And yes, of course. But I’m choosing to do that a little bit every day now. My birthday celebrations are now a year long. Today I  start my #thisis48 hashtag on Insta and chronicle a whole year of stuff I could only dream about 5 short years ago.

I’m so incredibly proud of myself. So I will give myself a little “atta girl” birthday punch to my arm.

Here’s the irony. I don’t say that I’m proud of myself in a boasting way. In fact, that’s where most people get my health and weight loss success wrong.

My success and total mindset shift came only when I embraced imperfection. The moment I embraced my flawed and screwed up ways, was the moment things began to change.

And, no that didn’t mean eating more pizza and ice cream. But it didn’t mean giving it up, either.

I also embraced things like being “last” in CrossFit or the “only” person who can’t do a certain movement.  I started looking at coming in last as a badge of honor vs. choosing to be embarrassed.  I might be last, but I’m older than 75% of the others here, I did better than I did last time and I sure as heck beat everyone sitting on the couch. I started looking out for my own improvements, not how much I kept up with others. I also started forcing myself to do the movements that I hated. To get comfortable in the uncomfortable.

I started keeping my eyes on my own barbell. My own fridge.

And guess, what, I started to see improvements when I focused on me and only me.

 I lost 115 pounds and am now a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, a USA Weightlifting Level 1 Trainer and Pn1 Precision Nutrition Sports Nutrition Certified.

I mean, get the *fuck* outta here.

I still can’t even process this in my brain.

What if we started doing things for ourselves vs. others or the picture of what society, spouse or others expect us to look like. Do things for you, by you, for what you want to be able to DO tomorrow, next week, or next year.

I mean if I can go from being 260 pounds, a diet of butterburgers, an exercise regimen of Netflix-binge-watching-couch-sitting for umpteen years at 47-years old, I can believe just about anything is possible.

Hell might have frozen.

The moment I focused on improvements in teeny tiny increments began a transformation on the inside and it manifested itself on the outside too.

The day that I started believing in myself. Giving myself a fucking break.  Expecting more of myself. Talking positively to myself instead of the hate talk in my head, meant I could get back up when I fell down vs. using it as an excuse to go on a food bender was the day everything changed.

October 4, 2014

The truth is, I didn’t lose 115 pounds by being ruthlessly perfect and “clean” in my nutrition and exercise. Things changed when I learned to trust myself. To count on myself and built a solution – for me – that I could navigate at every turn in the real world.  I didn’t even begin to exercise until 6 months after I had my nutrition somewhat under control.

Exercise kicked after I had taken off 40 pounds simply by eating better. I then decided I wanted to be able to do rigorous hikes in the Rocky Mountains into retirement. My former 260 pound self was not on that trajectory at 43 years old. I started with a goal to run/walk a 5k.

Falling on my face and being imperfect is HOW I’ve been successful. I’ve learned, food is not good or bad or clean or dirty.

Top: 2014 – My closest full body picture to Oct. 4, 2014. Bottom: Festivus Games in Philly April 2019.

I choose is what matters.  My awesome nutrition coach has the question seared in to my head, “Is that going to make you feel better?”

The choice is always mine and mine alone.

Gets me every time. Because when I’m tempted I now pause. Its easy for me to say “Duh! Of course a Frosty and fries will make me feel better!!”  But I know it will make only make me feel better for 5 seconds.  Then, almost immediately the guilt, bloat and self-loathing will set in, along with the permission to have loaded nachos and a margarita later.

Today I make healthier choices, not because my diet dictates it and not because it “fits my macros.”  I tried for years to make healthier choices only to fail. But I had to find goals and motivation bigger than a Jamocha shake and beef and cheddar.  I needed a friend, a coach, a confidant. Someone who understood what I was going through and tell me I wasn’t crazy.

Slowly but surely I CHOOSE the path that makes me feel better. Food that makes me feel better. Food that aligns me with my goals that are not a number on a scale, a pant size or how I look.

I strive for BALANCE.  REALITY.  Something I can sustain FOREVER, not just do for a few months until I’m bored and decide I need to try the new Reese Cups with Reese’s Pieces in them (and BTW, shout out to Reese’s for making their new tagline “Not Sorry” – dayummmm.)

(Apologies for my very specific pre-occupation with food – you can get a glimpse in to my life-long battle in my brain).

You can do this to! Four things to start with:

1) Think about a goal that you have that is more important than food.  And not just a number on a scale or how you want to look – but think about WHY you want to look that way?  What do you want to DO? Sear that in to your brain. Write it down. Look at it daily. Post it on your mirror. Envision yourself doing it. How it will feel? Never let that vision escape you. Bring it up in your mental viewfinder daily.

2) Start by making a better choice than you did the meal before.  If (or more correctly, when) you make a less than desirable choice, rinse and repeat! Choose your next meal as one that is better than the meal before. Bonus points if its a meal you are excited about. Not a dumb iceberg lettuce salad. Google healthy recipes for your favorite foods or build a healthy burrito bowl of goodness! A go to for me are bowls of goodness – fill with your favorite lean proteins, veggies, legumes, sometimes a little cheese or avocado!

3) And if you can’t do it on your own, find someone who understands and ask them to help you with accountability. For me, I found a nutrition coach. I was unwilling for so many years to be vulnerable to someone else. If I’m being honest, I wanted to “cheat” when I wanted to cheat. I was dependent on my food. It was my vice. My glass of wine. My cigarette for so many years. I knew what to do, I just wanted access to my vice and to not be judged when I wanted to eat how I wanted to. The key was finding a coach relationship that didn’t tell me what to eat, but set parameters that worked for me and and hold me accountable for my own choices and my own decisions based on my goals and how I felt was everything.

4) Get immediate results out of your head and embrace the long game. It has taken me years to get here. Teeny tiny choices make up big results over time.

Do away with all or nothing thinking. Because today, I choose cake. After that, I choose my goals.


Keep fighting for YOU, my warriors,


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