Posted in Strength Training, Wellness Coaching

Out of the Hole

To those who know me, it’s obvious that I have undergone a physical transformation.

Me at my niece's prom, May 2014. I always tried to stand to the side in pictures to avoid full-on body shots
Me and my niece, May 2014. I always tried to stand to the side in pictures to avoid full-on body shots.
Me at my Nephew’s graduation, May 2014, just a few months before I came to Matt.
October 2016, just over two years later

What isn’t as obvious is how I got here.

As these changes became more noticeable, I often encountered the same question from a variety of people, from passing acquaintances to close friends:

“Wow, you look great! What are you doing?”

While I truly appreciate the compliment, I find that there are a few assumptions underneath the question:

  1. Whatever I’ve been “doing,” I started “doing” it recently.
  2. I must be following a strict dietary program, like Weight Watchers, Atkins, Paleo, something.
  3. I must be going to the gym several days a week.

None of these are true for me.

The truth is that I have been on a journey of incremental change that has evolved over more than two years. Two years of building strength in mind and muscle; two years of overcoming challenges previously thought impossible; two years of leaps and setbacks, tears of frustration and happiness; two years of changing some of my deepest-held assumptions about diet, exercise, and myself.

This is a more complicated response than “Thanks, I’ve been doing [insert program].”

Until recently, I haven’t said much about my journey publicly. I had my reasons. I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging or seeking attention.  I didn’t want to reinforce the idea that weight loss increases a person’s worth. I didn’t want to focus on the physical transformation at the expense of the incalculable mental and emotional gains I’ve experienced.

But at the heart of my silence was a vague, irrational, but very real, fear, that talking about it would somehow make it go away. Since I was a child, I’ve been trapped on that painful weight loss-gain roller coaster that so many of us know all too well. I’ve lost and regained so many times, the fear of it happening again runs deep. I didn’t want to tempt fate by speaking about it.  

But one of the best ways to deal with this kind of fear is to confront it with facts. The facts are that weight loss has been a side effect of a lifestyle change, not the desperately sought solo goal. I didn’t lose it quickly through a drastic short-term program. I lost it through a long-term commitment to strength training two times per week (yes, you read that correctly- two times per week), along with gradual dietary changes. The confidence that has come through this process has translated into every other aspect of my life. My journey is as much about what I have gained as what I have lost.

And I’ve been challenged by my trainer, Matt Wenning, without whom I could not have done any of this, to share my experience so that I might help other people just like me. His suggestion lit a fire in me to become a coach, guide others along their own journeys, and help them discover that through small steps, big change is in fact possible.

So that’s why I decided to start this blog. To share the nitty-gritty details of my story a bit at a time and hopefully help somebody.

If any of these posts resonate with you, and you decide you want to try a similar path, I will be providing personalized, one-on-one coaching out of Matt Wenning’s training facility, Ludus Magnus, here in Columbus, Ohio. Matt is a world-record holding powerlifter and renowned strength coach. He has a Masters degree in biomechanics and has contracts with the Army, Border Patrol, and several local fire and police departments to oversee their training programs. How a girl like me ever got mixed up with a guy like him is a serendipitous story for another post. For now, let’s just say it has been my privilege to learn from the best!

Matt and I at Ludus Magnus. So grateful to this man!

You may be asking what makes me qualified to help somebody change their life. In one of my favorite episodes of The West Wing, one of the characters relates a parable that says it best:

A person falls into a hole. The sides are too steep to climb out. A doctor walks by. The person yells for help. The doctor writes a prescription, throws it into the hole, and walks away. Then a priest walks by. The person yells for help. The priest writes a prayer, throws it into the hole, and walks away. Then a friend walks by. The person yells for help. The friend jumps in the hole.

“Are you crazy?” the person exclaims. “Now we are both in the hole!”

“Yeah,” the friend says. “But I’ve been down here before and I know a way out.”

I do not claim to have arrived at some state of perfection. I am still very much a work in progress and look forward to continued learning and growth.

But I’m not in the hole anymore.

And you can get out, too.

3 thoughts on “Out of the Hole

  1. I’ve found an entire new lifestyle through weightlifting! This post alone has resonated with me – can’t wait to read more.


  2. Jennifer,
    I am very excited to start following your blog. I have seen your changes not just physically. You seem to be much more at ease and at peace with yourself. Thanks for sharing this journey.


  3. Jennifer I am soooo proud of you and couldn’t agree more!! Its not a quick fix or a six month program. Its a lifestyle change, a change in our thinking that manifests changes physically, mentally and spiritually!! You are showing the world that you care about yourself and that is attractive to others!! You will be a great coach!! Hooray for you!!


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