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Hey there friends! I’m Jen! I wanted to share a bit about my background and how Beauty and the Bench Press started. I have a long history of my weight being an issue. I grew up as an overweight kid with unhealthy habits. This trend continued throughout elementary school and high school. I was always hyper aware of my size and this had an effect on my relationship with others in my life as well as myself. In Junior High and High School, I remember being the biggest of all my friends and most girls my age. Once I got to college, instead of the typical freshman 15, I gained 30 pounds. I knew I needed to get control of my health but I didn’t know where to start. This caused me to go from one extreme to the next. I was popping diet pills and eating as little as possible, followed by episodes of binging when no one was looking. I lost a little weight so I kept this up for a few years. Eventually things started to backfire and I found myself losing control once again.
I remember the day I finally decided enough was enough. It was June 21, 2012. I had recently finished the school year and was on summer break. I stepped on the scale one morning, which was a rare occurrence since I typically avoided it liked the plague (ignorance is bliss ya know). And that’s when I saw it, 279. A mere 21 pounds away from 300. I got off in disbelief and stepped back on. After the second confirmation, I could feel the tears burning in my eyes. How did I let it get this bad? I knew I was overweight but I had been able to fool myself into believing it wasn’t that big a deal. I had ignored all the signs that pointed to a need to change my life for the better. I got winded doing the least bit of physical activity. Tying my shoes was an ordeal. Walking for more than a few minutes caused me to break out into a sweat. I finally felt like I had the reality check I needed. I immediately decided I was done with saying “I need to lose weight”, “I need to get healthy”. I was just going to make it happen. No more excuses.
I didn’t really know how to begin or what to do besides eat “better” and move more so I started with the calorie tracking app- myfitnesspal. Forcing myself to keep a diary of what I was eating in a day was eye opening. I had little to no regard for nutritional content or portion size. I typically ate to the point of being uncomfortably full at every meal. I didn’t know any other way. It was how I lived. The first few months of trying to change my habits were difficult. I hated having to be honest about what I was eating and I resented that other people could eat what they wanted and not gain weight the way I did. I had a few days every now and then where I lost sight of my goals but the difference was that this time, I didn’t quit. If I had a bad day where I went a little nuts with food, I decided that tomorrow was a new day and all I could do was tackle what was in front of me versus beating myself up about yesterday. I could focus on the present and commit myself to do better. In the past, one bad day usually turned into a month long downward spiral.
I am not one of those success stories where hundreds of pounds were lost in a year. I lost weight slowly. And at first, this made me feel like I was doing something wrong. But I now see that this was just my path and I will take slow and steady over a standstill any day. Overall it took me about 3 years to lose 85 pounds. There were periods where the scale didn’t move for weeks and I was so beyond frustrated but I kept telling myself that giving up wasn’t going to get me to my goals any faster. Thankfully, I had such a supportive group of friends and my husband in my corner who believed in me and pushed me through when I felt like all my effort was for nothing.
I created my Instagram account @beautyandthebenchpress, to share my journey on social media for accountability. It was terrifying at first to be so open with strangers but I found so much support in the online community and I have made so many amazing connections with others that those strangers now feel like family. I have learned so much about myself since starting that account and I feel like my focus has shifted in a positive way. I used to be very stuck on reaching a certain goal weight and I wanted to get there by any means necessary. I gave the scale so much power and ignored all the other non-scale victories that showed I was making progress. These days, I am much more focused on my overall fitness and health. I center my diet around eating real, nutritious food versus putting all my energy into finding whatever nutrition label reveals the lowest amount of calories. I am working on what balance looks like for my lifestyle and keeping up the healthy habits I have learned along the way with my newfound love of health and fitness.
It is so surreal to me that I now share my life with over 40,000 people on social media. I am thankful every day that I decided to put myself out there because sharing this piece of my life with others has meant so much to me and what I want more than anything is for anyone else who is struggling and desperately wanting to change, to know that it is possible. It is also so important for me to spread the message that you are so much more than a number on the scale.
Going down the path I did, eventually led me to create this blog! Here at Beauty and the Bench Press, I combine all of my favorite things in life! Healthy recipes, beauty tips/products and overall just fun lifestyle content. So, HELLO! And Welcome! I am so glad you’re here to hang with me!