Personal-Everyday Chaos

big macs, whoppers and diet coke

By May 23, 2013 39 Comments

I’ve always been THAT girl who’s struggled with her weight. I can remember clear back as far as 8 or 9 years old, laying on my side in the living room watching the floor model tv and pinching the little “rolls” of fat that bunched up on my sides. I’m not sure why I remember that so vividly, but I’ve always been conscious of my weight and the fact that I was “big-boned” compared to the other girls my age.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it never affected my self-esteem, it didn’t discourage me from wanting to join extracurricular activities or have an impact on my relationships…but I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t make me avoid swimming parties in high school, or paranoid when dressing in gym……..and here I am all of these years later and still the same thoughts cross my mind…but I find comfort in knowing that I’m not alone and in some cheesy way, even though us girls are our own worst critics, we are also bonded by the fact that we are self-conscience, whether we want to be or not. However, there a thin line between being body conscious and being body obsessive. Too many young girls and boys are sadly not accepting of the way their bodies are and can take drastic measures to change this. This often leads to eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa, which can be detrimental both physically and mentally.

We need to change this by looking out for the symptoms and spreading body image positivity instead of negativity. We shouldn’t even be feeling the body consciousness that the majority of us go through and that I’ve seen with my own eyes. I know this because….I’m a photographer and I’ve spent MANY hours over MANY years of shooting, listening to you all be critical of yourselves and I have come to this conclusion: No matter how big-small-tall-short-long hair-short hair….we are quicker at telling you what we hate about ourselves than we are about the things we love. Some of you won’t have photos of yourself taken because you don’t like the way you look…… oh my can I relate and I’m a PHOTOGRAPHER!!!!

I struggled with posting this kind of blog on my “business blog” because it’s not REALLLLLY photography related, but after receiving so many emails from the last post I wrote about loosing 40 pounds, I thought I’d just share my journey with you. I’m not an expert in health or fitness, I don’t have a degree on ANYTHING dealing with the body and I certainly am not an expert in the dietician field……but I do know what it feels like to not feel comfortable in my own skin, not want to do activities with my family because I have no energy and know how it feels to be judged by the skinny guy or girl who wanders how you could “ever let yourself get like that”….and it sucks. I’m positive and optimistic most of the time, but again, I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve gone thru life wandering why some people have been blessed with an amazing metabolism and perfect health.

The other day, I came across a post on my Facebook feed that had a rather long comment section beneath it. The poster commented on how they saw a “disgustingly fat” person at the grocery store and that they’d shoot themselves before they let themselves get “THAT” big. The comments under it ranged from things such as how lazy that person must have been, they must eat BIG MACS and WHOPPERS and a diet coke for every meal…and then there were a few AWESOME kindhearted people who said something along the lines of “how dare you judge these people”…..and my heart grew. Yes there will be people who are close minded and judgmental, but I challenge you to look at their life as a whole… they have a job they love, do they have awesome relationships, what about their money situation, living arrangements, etc…..somewhere in their sick and twisted judgmental minds……they are unhappy with some aspect of their lives and it always shows thru with their ugly behaviors. The truth is, you have no idea what their life struggles have been, I know I gained lots of weight after my sisters death, maybe they have a medical condition, but who are you to judge them? By the way…..this “person” is no longer on my feed. Ain’t no body got time for that! hahah!

As I’m typing this, I’m hooked up to an IV getting pumped full of iron at the cancer treatment center. I’ll spare you with the details that you could google yourself, but my body is iron deficient and I have anemia which REALLY affects my energy levels. I come to the cancer treatment center once a month for 4 hours to get pumped full of iron….plus I have hypothyroidism which ALSO affects my energy levels. For many years, I wandered WHYYY can’t I find the energy to do anything. I’d sleep every possible minute I could and even THEN, I was dragging. The idea of exercise was FARRR beyond my priority. I had a household to maintain, a small child to tend after, I ran a business and with everything in between, I was spent. It wasn’t until many doctors appointments and lots of blood work, we figured out what was going on. It’s been a year now since I’ve been “normal” (if that’s what you want to call it) and in January, I finally had the energy to get begin exercising….but by that point, I had packed on so many extra pounds that it felt nearly impossible to get to a weight I would be happy with. On January 15th, I began this weight loss journey with just some plain old exercise and some healthy eating. I still have a LONG way to go, but I challenge all of you who have had a difficult time loosing weight in the past, who have faithfully tried (more than a few months with no avail)….. go get some blood work done to determine that your body is functioning the way it’s supposed to….because your body could be working against you like mine was. I also challenge you to do this BEFORE you try those fad diets. They may work short term, but in order to maintain the weight loss you’re going to have to eat REAL food…….can you really see yourself drinking that “shake” 3 or even 5 years from now? You can do this…..

And the big question everyone wants to know is “what’s my secret?” As if there is a magic pill that I’m taking…wanna know my “secret”? It’s learning to love the body you have now, knowing that your beautiful regardless of the size of your pants, and that I love myself enough to get healthy. I know the weight didn’t go on over night and that it won’t come off overnight so learning to love the body I have RIGHT NOW is crucial to going thru the process…..but those judgmental people, well ugly is to the bone! And you’ll know how I feel about “ugly”. <3 Now excuse me while I go order my WHOPPER and BIG MAC's ....with a diet coke (insert sarcasm). Besides, everyone deserves a treat every once in a while. As long as you eat fast food in moderation there is no harm in enjoying a Big Mac from time to time. Plus, have you noticed that you can now find a wide range of healthier alternatives on the McDonald's menu? Nowadays, McDonald's offers a wide range of healthy salads and fruit juices that are incredibly tasty. Plus, if you are passionate about saving money like me, there is almost always a mcdonalds deal, coupon code, or voucher that you can use to secure some money off your meal. This just goes to show that eating healthily does not have to be expensive or difficult.

…….and can you believe I don’t have ANYTHING to sell you?! haha!

What do you think about the fascinating topics I have discussed above? Get in touch and let me know your own experiences as I would love to hear from you.


  • Lpfearn says:

    Your photography blog is the PERFECT place to talk about this journey! Photography is about capturing and presenting an “image”. Your commentary about this “health journey” reflects beautifully on the concept of body image and offers acceptance, encouragement and inspiration to women who need to focus on health as opposed to appearance. I’ve been there, done that and I am hoping that the next generation will be spared the “image issues”! Keep up the great work!

  • Audrey says:

    You rock, Jen!! As someone who can relate to your story, I commend you for having the courage and selflessness to share your awesome and inspirational journey! The world needs more voices like yours:-)

  • Alicia says:

    I’ve always thought u were gorgeous, no matter what size u are or were! Ur just a pretty person inside and out!!!
    Way to go sweetie!!!

  • Cynthia Salazar says:

    You are beautiful. Congratulations on your success so far =).

  • Chi Ebert-Pelo says:

    I love this post SO much. I have lived this way too. And I have lost and gained so much weight over the years. I am in a total different state of MIND lately. And the MIND is where it’s at! I’ve lost 40 lbs. in the last 60 days. I’m not starving myself. I’m not taking a diet pill. Not wrapping a skinny wrap around myself. I’m loving myself. Taking care of my body. And my soul. THANK YOU for this post! You’re beautiful.

  • Katy McKinley says:

    Love your honesty with everything Jen. I’ve been on weight loss journey since before I got pregnant, took a hiatus during pregnancy and then have gradually continued my decline in size. I’m now 65 lbs lighter and I still have this weird “fun house” view of myself. This whole being a woman thing can be tough. I’m learning to love myself each day.

    I love that you’re doing it how I am. Hard work, lots of sweat & tears and a few burgers in between. 🙂 I hate that people are encouraging crazy diets that I’d never want to do for more than a couple of weeks. Eat what you want, within reason. Take time to move your feet. Laugh a lot. And you’ll make it! Go Jen!

  • Cathy Ruiz Perez says:

    You are so inspiring. Congratulations and good luck!

  • Chelsey Rapp says:

    Great blog! Very inspiring 🙂

  • Kevin Bramblett II says:

    Great job. I decided it was time to to lose weight also and I am now down 91 pounds. It is amazing how something as simple as changing your nutrition and getting off the couch can make such a huge difference. Keep up the good work.

  • Chi Ebert-Pelo says:

    91 lbs. OMG!! That’s amazing Kevin! Congratulations!

  • Sandra Stanley Duryea says:

    Man can I relate to this! Thanks for always being so real.

  • Jeremy Sale says:

    You rock, Jen! But I think you already know that, thank God.

  • Jen McKen says:


  • Erin Marie says:

    You are awesome, lady! Keep up the great work!

  • Sue Anne Ward says:

    Please tell your story Kevin!!!

  • Sue Anne Ward says:

    Chi Ebert-Pelo You are a great inspiration!!!!!

  • Sue Anne Ward says:

    Jen: I do not know you outside of following your wonderful work of photography. Now I get to follow this. I am glad you decided to put it up on the photography page….eventually it will turn into a spread of your journey! You are an encouragement to all who have been there or are still struggling. Keep posting, please!

  • Denise Zurlo says:

    Thank you! I too have Hypothyroidism and I thought I was the only one who had felt like you described. Currently working on the getting healthier plan and getting this weight off. Not only are you a great photographer but an inspiration too. Now….Can you move to California? I’d love to have some family pictures done.

  • Luci Shibles says:

    Way to go Jen……..I started my good food program last August and I’m down 30+ lbs. My sweety and I decided to take it off slowly with proper diet and it’s really not that hard. This is a beautiful post, you really tell it like it is. Thank you for the beautiful pictures………..

  • Katie McIntyre Redmond says:

    Beautiful Jen!

  • Loretta Gearhart says:

    Jenn you are an amazing young women. This story tugged at my heart because I have been struggling with low self esteem for most of my life but for different reasons. But in the past two years I’ve gained 20+ lbs. and it truly makes me sad and depressed. Menopause, stress and pain our my culprit now, sweets and ice cream are my comfort foods that I turn to soothe me. Your encouragement is truly needed. Thanks.

  • Émilie Bernard says:

    Interesting and inspiring read.
    Oh and by the way…conscious and wonder (not conscience and wander).

  • Jen McKen says:

    Ha ha you apparently didn’t read that disclaimer on the homepage

  • Tom Ivar Helbekkmo says:

    You are beautiful and sexy – and you were so before losing those 40 pounds, too. More important, though: you’re a warm and caring human being, an amazing photographer, and a very good writer. You rock, girl! Keep it up! 🙂

  • Tara N Forrester says:

    This is superbly awesome! 😉 You say things so much nicer than I would, I have such a potty mouth when it comes to those who hurt others for no reason, other than pure meanness… Sigh. You are correct I believe a startling number of overweight people were sexually molested I think the upwards of 75% or something… Anyway congrats to you for using your powers for good, and here’s to the next 40!

  • Diane French says:


  • Joy Hofstra Adrianson says:

    What a great person, she nailed it…..I have often felt that way too!

  • Kristen Smith says:

    It warms my heart to read blogs like this. So inspiring to see that it’s not all about negative body image! Keep up the fantabulous writing and photos, and sharing your wonderful self with all of us.

  • Suzanne Metz Apau says:

    totally enjoyed this blog!!!!!

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  • Brianne Comeau Kyner says:

    Thank you so much for this blog. I am starting my journey this week and want to lose 100lbs. I relate to your story soooo much. I was always the tallest/stronges/biggest girl while I was growing up but because of team sports I never really had an issue with self esteem or my body. I’ve always been “big boned,” but was always active and received a lot of positive feedback for my strength and height. However, as I’ve gotten older and more sedentary, I’ve gained a lot of weight. I have struggled, losing the same 40lbs over and over, but always gained back the weight plus more. Over the last two year I have been struggling with infertility and the medications and stress have taken their toll on my weight issues. I am going to need all the support I can get through this journey and am looking forward to sharing some of your success. Thank you for sharing your story, you look amazing!!

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