Monday, February 14, 2011

something radical

You know what kills me? I can grow broccoli, raise animals, train a sheep dog, buy a farm, and start a small business. But I can not say no to an onion bagel with cream cheese (at least not yet). It's so frustrating. To be a woman who feels totally capable of tackling anything she dares to take on—but unable to drop twenty pounds—is demoralizing. You can't feel like any sort of success when you're unhappy with how your jeans fit. Diet and weight loss that are my biggest failure. I can push myself for weeks, lose fifteen pounds, and then be upset it's not thirty and bounce right back to my older weight. It's never good enough. It is frustrating as hell.

I always wanted to look like a hay-strewn, cowboy-shirt-wearing version of Jillian Michaels with a dog-eared copy of the Dharma Bums in her back pocket. The kind of woman men get nervous around. I had this idea that the only way I would ever be happy with myself was if I looked like people on the cover of fitness magazines, but you know, "farmier". Basically, I want to be a thoroughbred in a draft harness.

But the thing is...I love food. I adore it. I love growing it, raising it, being a part of the system. I love the seasonal role of food. The way my year is shaped by planting and harvesting, chicks and lambs, and the constant waltz of birth, death, and preservation. The same slow dance that has kept our civilization alive since time out of mind.

I love old recipes with butter and cast iron. I love the honey BBQ pulled-pork sandwich on a hand-kneaded fresh butter bun I ate last night for dinner. It was amazing. I love that I spent a whole day in the winter farmhouse smelling that crockpot wafting, baking bread, listening to music, planning a meal. I knew the pig. I learned a recipe. So many experiences and stories, images and tiny victories on one plate. This is the center of my life now. The rituals and dance of making food from earth and animals. My rumbling tummy working up to it is a fasting liturgy. The whole story, canon.

So today is Valentine's Day. A day dedicated to love. I'm single and thinking about dinner. It's not upsetting or depressing, but it is frustrating. I'm constantly battling this desire to be thin with my love of food. It makes me think so little of myself, knowing that the biggest thing getting in the way of my happiness has nothing to do with men or dating: it has to do with me. I can not accept myself for who I am because I have this ridiculous idea about what I need to be. I don't think I am alone here, either.

Today I am letting go. I don't want to want to be anyone else anymore.
Happy Valentine's Day, Jenna.

I have decided to embrace radical self-acceptance. Tonight I looked in the mirror, took a few deep breaths, and smiled. This is who I am. I'm a size ten. My hair is thin. My skin is blotchy, scared, and scratched. My arms are flabby over my bucket muscles. My teeth aren't great. My wardrobe is basic. But this is who I am. I accept it, and am grateful to possess it, and I am tired of believing it's not good enough. In fact, it does a pretty damn good job around here. Not everyone has a body that can run five miles in the summer, wrestle a ram, or take care of a farm through a -25 degree night. Some folks don't even have the ability to stand up—and yet here I am—being down on myself because my perfectly adequate legs aren't fit for the cover of a lululemon catalog? Well guess what dear readers, thoroughbreds aren't draft animals. I am 100% Percheron.

I'm not saying I'm settling. I'm not saying I'm giving up. I'm not saying I should put down those three-pound weights or throw out my running shoes. Accepting myself as is is isn't about giving up on goals—it's about not being angry for not obtaining them yet. I'm embarrassed about how self-conscious I was about my appearance. Embarrassed because I know this isn't the right way to go through the world. This ride is too short, and I am spending the whole time worrying if other people in line think my ankles look fat in chacos. Well, I'm done with that. I'm just going to step onto the rollercoaster now. No one else who is actually enjoying in the ride cares about your ankles, just the people waiting in line do.

So on this Valentine's Day I think I'll love myself for who I am.
All of me.

I'll do that and see what happens next. Because I have a hunch the first step towards actually changing some weakness in you is truly accepting your faults, flaws, fears, and fights for what they are. See them, know them, and let the go. If farming has taught me anything so far, it is that nothing is perfect, and the things that are usually aren't very functionual. Useful buildings, animals, pastures, and people are a mess of history, purpose, and weather. Their work changes them, and always for the better. I'll leave the braided-maned cart ponies pulling ribboned cabriolets to the folks parked next to the white picket fences. I'll be the wind-tussled workhorse beside the faded red barn and barbed wire.

Be grateful, be kind to yourself, and most importantly: be of use.

89 Comments:

Blogger Allison said...

YOU are amazing, inspiring and beautiful from the very depths of your being. It has been lovely reading your first book, reading your goals, and now watching from afar how you have accomplished those labor intensive, never ending goals. I hope the next time you look in the mirror you also say "I am proud of me." cause I'm proud of you, and we've never even met.
Thanks for all you do. You've inspired me loads over here in Oregon.

February 14, 2011 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

Have a care, you are coming dangerously close to some powerful ideas that the patriarchy doesn't want you thinking. It's thoughts like that made me the radical feminist I am today.

February 14, 2011 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Stephanie G. said...

Fantastic post! Happy Valentines Day to you!

Stephanie :)
www.simplicitymom.blogspot.com

February 14, 2011 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Ahhh...but that I could.

Be proud, strong woman, you.

February 14, 2011 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Jenna, the number on a scale (or your pants size) is the worst measure of self-worth available to women. If you haven't already, I highly recommend checking out some Health at Every Size resources on the internet. Also, the blog is now defunct, but Shapely Prose has a great archive. They made me realize that if I was unhappy with how my jeans fit I should blame my jeans and not my body.

What you can do, and have done, with your body is freakin' amazing. Give it some credit!

February 14, 2011 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger daisy said...

I think as women we get so caught up in what others expect us to be. And then we internalize that for ourselves. When others stop disapproving of us, we take it up and keep it going. After years of low self-esteem, I've come to the realization that the only expectation I need to live up to is my own. I am so much more than a head full of hair and the right size jeans. And so are you, my dear Jenna. Those of us who read your blog regularly and support you in other ways already know that. Be kind to yourself...

February 14, 2011 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Bee said...

You are amazing...all that you do, all that you are, all that you want to do!
Happy Valentine's Day to you and congrats for giving yourself permission to be you!
Took me 48m years to do that, so you are well ahead of me!
And a hearty, AMEN!, to Saras' comment!
Listen to your heart and there you will find the true you :)

February 14, 2011 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger PansWife said...

I feel your pain, sister. I recently read "Why We Get Fat: And To Do About It" by Gary Taubes. I found it very oy helpful and enlightening. He talks a lot about metabolisms and how for some people the problem is in the carbs, not the calories. No miracles, but good advice and the reality that we can't all be a size 2. I've lost a few pounds just changing out a few things I normally would eat. It's a way of eating that will complement your lifestyle. I recommend it as a good read.

February 14, 2011 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger Marquax said...

You are speaking about something that I have learned very recently. I was recently told by my doctor that I was over-weight, and that was crushingly depressing. And after that, all I wanted was the good sweet comfort of food. A couple of days later, I realized the doctor was wrong- I was comparing my weight to when I was naked, and they were weighing me with full winter gear (including those traction grips for my shoes). That's a ten pounds difference. Suddenly I feel better, and food is good, but not my solace.

I would suggest you don't watch T.V. or read magazines, put the scale in the closet, and get rid of your full-length mirror. I always feel better about my body when I'm not analyzing it all the time.

Happy Valentine's Jenna. You are inspiring me, with your books and blog, here in Massachusetts. I wish you nothing but the best!

February 14, 2011 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Since when is a size 10 unattractive? I've been a size 10 for as long as I can remember. That is until I started gaining the meno-pot. Now my waist is a 12 or 14 while the rest of me is still a 10! I no longer tuck my shirts in. :)

February 14, 2011 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

This was part of my post today: Of all the gifts of love, self-love is the greatest, because if you love yourself, you're more likely to be able to give others the right kind of love. Self-love is nurturing and strong. Cultivate self-love; don't wait for someone to do it for you.

You don't want someone to love you for the image you have of yourself inside, because even if that image were on the outside, eventually it will fade and turn into something else.

You want someone to love you for what's really inside you, anyway, not what's on the outside. Would you really want to be hooked up with someone that shallow anyway?

A wise woman once told me that people really wanted to attract each other, they should get busy living their lives doing the things that interest them and make them feel happy, they would naturally be more attractive. She also said that usually when someone gets so busy with getting on with their life they don't have time for a relationship, and that's generally when someone shows up.

Besides which, I'm going to guess that between lambing and gardening this spring, you'll probably lose some weight, anyway. The big thing is to get enough rest- humans tend to try to fuel with food for energy if they don't get enough sleep. Drink lots of water. I also find that if I drink buttermilk (which I LOVE) when I'm hungry, it'll keep me going for awhile, it's fairly low calorie, and it's a good source of calcium, and if I'm consistent, it helps me lose weight.

I like the idea of cast iron as an ingredient!

And if it makes you feel any better, I cannot say no to an everything bagel and cream cheese. An onion bagel would be a close second.

February 14, 2011 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger Boyles Family Farms said...

Keep eating the food and focusing on your strength. Health is the goal, and it seems you have plenty of that. Jillian Michaels spends way too much time inside. . . and that is not how farm women roll.

February 14, 2011 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

I have spent years trying to reconcile these issues. I have finally realized (though I am by no means incapable of slipping back into self-hate) that I must treat myself the way I would want to treat others, with compassion, love, and patience. That critical voice you may hear playing over and over in your head would never ever find voice if directed at someone else, would it? So take it easy on yourself. You are doing a lot right now. Keep moving, eat good food (and an onion bagel with cream cheese is okay, really), and trust that if you continue to do what you love you'll get to self-acceptance. I always put on pounds in the winter or when stressed out. With more light you will be outside more and have more greens from your nascent garden. Strive for balance and moderation and like someone else said, be kind to yourself.

February 14, 2011 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

What PansWife said. It's great to love yourself but there's still the little matter of health. At your age, it's less of a problem but it will get worse as you get older. I too highly recommend Why We Get Fat and if you're really ambitious, check out Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories (warning: heavy duty science and critiques there). The fact that you absolutely cannot turn down an onion bagel says a lot. It really is about carbs for soooo many people. I've lost 43 lbs. in the last year eating low carb and the cravings are gone. (What a relief.) Once you lose the cravings, losing weight is easy. It's not about calories, and it's not about exercise. Exercise is good for fitness but lousy for weight loss. It just makes you hungry.

February 14, 2011 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger lasharb said...

You go girl! Seriously - I found the love of my life (he was right under my nose) the day I stopped worrying about that last 5-10 lbs, whether or not my hair was perfect and gave up being "that girl". I learned to love myself and he let me know he was just waiting for me to figure it out on my own. He wanted the woman he knew I was - not the woman I thought he wanted. Keep your chin up and exhale!

February 14, 2011 at 8:23 PM  
OpenID chickadeeworkshop said...

Amen to what you said, and everyone else, too. And in case you didn't already know it, you have tons of love comin' atcha from your readers. Happy Valentine's Day, Jenna.

February 14, 2011 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

From a Belgian to a Percheron - Happy V. Day.

February 14, 2011 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Jenna, the answer isn't weight. I'm 44(on Thursday), 120 pounds, a size 4/6--and I still struggle to accept myself just the way I am. Living the declaration that you just made is the one thing I hope to accomplish this year.
If you are healthy, active (how could you not be--you're a farmer), and eat well, let the weight take care of itself and just be your own passionate self. That's what all your readers love.

February 14, 2011 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger panthercreekcottage said...

Allison is right on the money. Well said. Today, I needed to buy a new pair of jeans. I slid into them and checked myself out in the store mirror. Dadgum mirrors! But funny thing is when you get back to the farm and get busy, that's all that really matters.

February 14, 2011 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger kringsrud said...

Awww, Jenna, you are so amazing in so many ways that are relevant. Don't get sucked in to false ideas about appearance. What good is it to you if you are a size two but too spindly and weak to manage your garden and your sheep, heck, the whole farm?

I hate having lunch with girlfriends who eat a grape and a cracker and then proceed to shiver throughout the entire meal because they don't allow themselves enough calories to even keep warm. There's something wrong with them. Don't be like that.

You are healthy and strong and capable. Those are the characteristics that bind people to you; not your clothing size.

I read you every day, and I almost never comment, but today I want to hop a plane across the country to stand in front of you, wag my finger, and say "hey, knock this &@$! OFF!" You are better than this.

Hugs to you!

February 14, 2011 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Kootenay said...

Consider that you've stepped out of convention already - letting go of the last bits of caring about appearances might be easier than you think.

February 14, 2011 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger David said...

Well said! Even if a certain "look" will catch someone's eye, it is the confidence and personality that makes you lovable. Both guys and ladies don't want a shallow shell as a soul mate. You're well on your way!

February 14, 2011 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger CLC said...

Jenna, this is a beautiful post. You are an inspiration to me!
Happy Valentine's Day

February 14, 2011 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

The greatest romance you will ever have is your own story. The best gifts are the dreams you have the courage to make real, and to share with all of us. What your critical eye picks out in your mirror is not what we all see. We see strength, humility, courage and poetry. You are already so far beyond what our culture tells us we have to be and do - throw away this stereotype, too. You rock!

February 14, 2011 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger linda said...

Yeah!!! Good for you, Jenna!

February 14, 2011 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Rosa said...

I'm thin.(so's my hair ;)) I take after my dad. My sister is not thin. She takes after my mom. I have a raging case of barnheart. Unfortunately my skinny body can only do so much before I get sick or just plain worn out. The year we got our dog I lost so much weight walking her in the winter my doctor told me I had to stop walking her. (For crying out loud!) My sister, on the other hand can get all kinds of things done and never gets sick.
Given the choice between wearing size six jeans or an extra 20 pounds and the ability care for a small farm and I'd take the 20 (or even 30) pounds gladly.
Every. Single. Time.

February 14, 2011 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger Punk Rock Farmer said...

I get nervous around all women, be your self and love it.
Tim
www.Happycatfarm.com

February 14, 2011 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger kmkat said...

Have you ever read anything by Michael Perry? He is a nurse turned EMT/farmer/writer in Wisconsin. His books are "Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time," "Truck: A Love Story," and "Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting." His blog is sneezingcow.com (taken from his humor stuff, "Never stand behind a sneezing cow."

He is exactly the kind of man who would appreciate everything that is you and celebrate you. Tragically, he is already married. But your post made me think of him.

Rock on!

February 14, 2011 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Jenna, I am a tall woman, 5'9"1/4 LOL!! I also am a muscular, broad shouldered workin kinda woman.....who while married to the wrong man for 15 yrs was made to see myself as not good enough, not tiny enough, and definetly not blonde enough.......(Indian Irish, dark brown hair.)......fast forward to divorce court.........and the weight loss that was sure to follow such devestation. I was skinnier then in my whole life....wore a size 4 for awhile and shook like a leaf in the grocery store produce Isle. Not good!!!! tried to keep running my daily 3to 5 miles and lift light weights, but my body had NO STRENGTH! My family and friends worried.........I looked emaciated in a size 4 as my reg size is 12/14 :) hey 10 is little in my wardrobe girl :) Long story short....couldn't keep up with 2 jobs, working out, homeschooling and caring for 4 kids and had to go see the doc. He told me to gain 15 lbs. Eat some MEAT, giggle, and be happy! Fast forward again and the dearest old friend decides to love me after his wife passed away.......he loves my build, my sturdiness and since he has literally seen me through thick and thin says over and over that I am just perfect for him! I do not need to despise what I am naturally, I am in pretty good shape.......but size 14 :) but a muscular 14..........and who really gives a rat's patooey anyway, it is a number in my clothes.........but my sturdy body handled the rotitiller for 4 hours as I plowed my huge garden! You are a joy to my home and I have never met you .........daily I am drawn to your courage and your gusto that you live by and I see only a cute girl who is way ahead of her age group in maturity!!! Happy Valentines Day............love you, love is all around you.......it will come when you least expect it........and like PUNK ROCK FARMER said, guys have their own nerves too..........it is all relative....live your best life.....cuz you help me live mine!!! :)

February 14, 2011 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I recently decided that I'm going to live my life for me, and I'm no longer looking back. Sounds like you and I are on a similar road, I just have a mohawk now.

February 14, 2011 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger Sprite said...

Sing it, sister. Just in the past two years, I've come to terms with my shape. After spending seven months trying to thru-hike the AT and dropping from a size 18 to a size 16, I realized that there's probably a reason why I'm not thin, even if I don't know the reason.

I hope that you can get to where I am now, just like I hope to get to where you are now. I'm very happy being a size 16 and being healthy. I am able to walk confidently. I don't feel ashamed to run, dress up in heels, be seen in a two-piece. I am also single, but it's really nice to not attribute this to my weight, like I used to.

You are such a success and an inspiration. I hope that you never feel again like your body is a trap instead of a vehicle. You're amazing in what you do, how you write, your ability to inspire, and for the record, totally adorable and beautiful.

February 14, 2011 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Love you love your blog. You are healthy and fantastic and inspiring. Do your thing girl and you'll come out on top.

And, I looooove BBQ pork sandwiches.

February 14, 2011 at 11:16 PM  
Blogger CallieK said...

This is so weird but I've been wanting to write you to tell you how much you remind me of my dear friend for a number of reasons which I won't go into right now. You even look alike!

Now here's the thing that finally makes me want to tell you this today. My friend is an average looking woman- she was a curvy size 10 when we met and is now a healthy size 14. However, she sees herself as attractive, which she is. Even if she's heavier than the North American ideal, she still projects confidence in her appearance that makes her far more attractive than many thinner 'pretty' women I know. ( She also has an extensive lingerie collection which may have something to do with that!;)

That list you made of your 'flaws' needs to go. You need to make new list that reminds you of what you find beautiful about yourself and repeat it until you believe it. And if you don't believe me have a look at these photos.

This is my friend on an average day (you see she loves her food too!)http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliek/5446661311/

And this is her styled by a photographer who was attracted to her confidence
http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliek/5446661311/

When I read your writing this is the type of image I see in my head- not so much the dolled up version, but the confidence in who you are. We already see how beautiful you are- now you need to learn to see it too!

Happy Valentine's Day Jenna!

February 14, 2011 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger CallieK said...

Sigh.. cut and paste FAIL

This is the second photo

http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliek/5447265382/

February 14, 2011 at 11:26 PM  
Blogger Lainie said...

Hey, Jenna, a size 10 is a perfect 10. At least that's what I tell myself when I get to this point (every couple of days or so). There are lots of women who'd love to be our size. Thank you for posting this, especially today.
:D
-Lainie

February 14, 2011 at 11:34 PM  
Blogger Sylvan said...

Bravo Jenna! We girls can be so hard on ourselves and our ever fluctuating bodies.

Happy Valentine's Day to you.

Thank you for sharing your journey.

Hugs.

February 14, 2011 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Good for you Jenna! There's a time for everything and right now isn't your time for focusing on losing a lot of weight. I think, when you stop worrying about it, it will just happen with all your hard physical activity. You're beautiful in every way just the way you are today!

February 15, 2011 at 12:26 AM  
Blogger girlandcat5 said...

Beautiful post Jenna! I know this topic really speaks to many people, and is something I have dealt with too. I am a baker at my very core, it is my passion. I am in love with the alchemy of butter, flour and sugar. I love mixing dough by hand, peeking into the oven to check on the progress, and the community food creates.It just makes life better. But the side effect of this love is a bigger pair of jeans. I want to be in shape for health but not because of some societal ideal. So I think that Valentines Day is the perfect time to decide to accept ourselves as we are and get on with life.
PS: I LOVE your horse analogy. My entire life from the time they made us run a mile in elementary school until this afternoon when I was lugging grocery bags up the hill to my apartment, I have pictured my self as a stocky Haflinger pony. I may not be the most elegant in the herd, but I am strong and dependable and refuse to quit.
Happy Valentines Day to You :)

February 15, 2011 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger Affi'enia said...

Ah Jenna. You are perfect just the way you are. You are a healthy woman who runs a farm. You can do things others only dream of. And I bet you lay a mean table when friends come round for feeding.

I used to obsess over my weight. I've been over under and all weights inbetween. But the second I decided that I didn't care anymore if I wasn't a size 10 (uk) I started to drop weight. Being happier with myself made all the difference in my life. I found a job I liked (at the time) fell in love and stabalised at a decent weight. Sure I could be thinner, but I don't care. I'm healthy and that is all that matters.

Food should be about the middle path. Eat stuff that is good for you, eat things that you like. Enjoy all food.

February 15, 2011 at 3:41 AM  
Blogger farmgirljen said...

We love you the way you are, Jenna! (by the way, I dream of the day when I can be a size 10 again). Besides, thoroughbreds are high strung and flightly and, in terms of work, have a pretty short shelf life. Weight is something thrust upon us by our culture, and as most of us chicks are not Kate Moss (or whoever the model d'jour is) we need to focus on the positive things we are doing with our lives, and, honey, you are a positive inspiration to so many of us, thick or thin. Hang in there. During the long, dark days of winter, we all battle the demon of weight. But when the sun comes out, the days get longer and the garden starts to sprout, we'll kick its ass! Happy Valentine's Day, Barnheart Queen!

February 15, 2011 at 6:54 AM  
OpenID peihome said...

I used to be like you. Loved the food, hated the body. A battle that went on for years, and manifested in so many unhealthy ways.

I say to you: enjoy every single mouthful. Stay healthy, keep working out, lord knows you work hard on the farm, but savor every single morsel that crosses your lips.

Through a series of unfortunate illnesses and surgeries, I am unable to eat. I live on Boost and Ensure - no item of 'real' food, even mashed or blended, can I eat. Long story, too long for here.

Sure, I've finally lost the 40 pounds that plagued me for years, but I would kill to eat some homemade bread and jam, or one of my chicken's freshly laid eggs, or a slice of our home-grown lamb.

I still cook for my husband, and I often weep as I'm doing it. Sometimes, I have to leave the room when he eats. Family suppers? Let's not even go there.

So Jenna, enjoy it all now. You have it all ... now. Every day, every delightful or scary or beautiful experience, it's all yours, it's all you.

Perfectly so.

February 15, 2011 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I got real upset when I started getting wrinkles. I know its hard to imagine but it was the first real sign of my own mortality. It took me a while to not be freaked by it. I kind of like you just accepted it, this is who I am. I'm gonna do all the right things for myself but above all I'm gonna love myself. I dont mind my crows feet and my laugh lines. I'm gratful for them actually. It turns out I was the person I wanted to be all along. Hope you find this comfort too.

February 15, 2011 at 7:29 AM  
Blogger Damn The Broccoli said...

Every picture you see of someone you perceive to be ideal, every article you read about being slim, every gym that tries to entice you in all have one thing in common.

They are trying to sell you something you probably don't need.

Remember also that muscle is about 7 times more dense than fat so when you are on the scales bemoaning those extra pounds, maybe those pounds won't shift as they are the muscles that drive the farm.

If you lost them at the expense of your dream would it be worth it?

February 15, 2011 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Jenna, this is something that I struggle with too. Coming from a long line of overweight decendants, food lovers and emotional eaters I used to berate myself that I couldn't get down under a 6 in my early twenties before I even had a kid. How stupid I was.

Now I'm a twelve, have a permanent "mommy belly" stretched by 5 kids with the nice pink verticle lines to prove it. I have come to the relization that the world likes -no it thrives- on differences. If every fruit tasted the same, if we were all skinny skinny life would be boring. As long as we're healthy -and you can be healthy at larger sizes- what does a number matter? I threw out my scale a long time ago.

February 15, 2011 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

Excellent :D Far too many people (women AND men) beat up on themselves because they don't fit some physical mould that giant multinational corporations have decided is "good". Heck, I used to be one of them! *LOL* Like you said, this isn't giving up, this is accepting yourself for who you are, and that's the best thing anyone can do for themselves.

February 15, 2011 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Someone very wise once said to me, "on your deathbed, you'll never look back on your life and wish you dieted more." People who are truly beautiful accept who they are.

Now, pass the chocolate cake :)

February 15, 2011 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 15, 2011 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

My husband married me because I looked "practical" (i.e. not high maintenance). Ha! I'm not a make-up wearer, have less than desirable skin, and gained 60 lbs. with each of my babies that I have a heck of a time losing again. But I have come to accept (most of) my flaws and am happy to be healthy, alive, and thriving! The thing that has helped me is acknowledging my weaknesses. And not looking at magazines that leave me feeling depressed about myself or my life.

You're awesome, Jenna. But it doesn't matter how many people tell you that unless you believe it yourself.

Focus on what makes you feel powerful, useful, and loving and all the shallow views of the world fall by the wayside.

February 15, 2011 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger jennthepen said...

Happy Valentines Day, Jenna! This post - the strength you show & you being "real" - is why we love you. I learned early on not to care what other thought of me - only because I always got picked on. It's very freeing to live this way.

February 15, 2011 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

Oh, and by the way, size means NOTHING. Ever since I hit age 15, and I was a toothpick then, I could never wear less than a size 12 jeans because of my hips! Size 10 jeans will never be in my picture, and I am totally okay with that. I celebrate at 12!

Women's sizes are a joke and so subjective according to brand. If women's clothes were sized like men (inseam and waist) we'd have jeans that actually fit and less shallow views on size. I mean, size 0??? Give me a break! Unless you're made out of paper, size 0 shouldn't exist.

Ok. I'm done. Stepping off the soap box now. :-)

February 15, 2011 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Cat K said...

Chacos make everyone's ankles look amazing. And their legs, feet, and all the rest of them. Chacos are the miracle-bra of the shoe world. :)

Rock on, and whatever you do, keep writing these posts that make my heart so glad that it feels like it could run 5 miles or shovel snow off a roof, even if my body can't do it...yet.

February 15, 2011 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

Love the post. I'm so glad you've come to this realization. And you know what...all of those girls who starve themselves and eat only carrot sticks and drink Diet Coke...they couldn't hold a candle to you. If it came to a head to head brawl, you'd kick some ass. Under whatever it is that you see in the mirror, you've got some ass kicking muscles from living this wonderful farm life you've chosen. Rock on!

February 15, 2011 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thank you for saying what I feel. I too made the decision yesterday to just love me for me and do whatever it takes to really make me happy. And stop worrying about making everyone else happy or doing what I think will make me what I think they want me to be.

You can do it. So can I :)

February 15, 2011 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger =mew= said...

I hear that, sister! I can't shake these awkward 10 lbs either. But we keep trying. Don't give up!

February 15, 2011 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I, too, want to encourage you to look into low-carb eating. If you read about the science of it I think it will help you turn your mind in that direction. Think of it as embracing a healthier way of eating rather than denying yourself. Read Gary Taubes, who also started a blog, and Dr. Eades who wrote Protein Power, and has a blog, (although he hasn't blogged as much lately), etc. The comments o the blogs are helpful, too. Unless you are growing wheat, it won't stop you from eating what you grow. Meat, eggs, cheese, vegetables, all good. I didn't need to lose weight as much as improve my cholesterol. (My HDL has gone up considerably and my triglycerides have gone down.) Either way, don't beat yourself up. You're doing great.

February 15, 2011 at 10:30 AM  
OpenID Lady Falderol said...

You should read this if you haven't.

slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/02/11/hello-i-am-fat

February 15, 2011 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Amazing, beautiful post. I am right there with you on everything. Thanks for this.

February 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Siberian said...

There is a wonderful author out there named Tom Venuto. He has authored two books on maintaining an ideal bodyweight...they are princple-driven, rather than program-driven, so there are no crazy programs or starvation regimens. In fact, I know a psychologist who uses his books in hospitals because he has found nothing better.

I realize your post was about acceptance of who and how you are, and I really don't intend to advise you otherwise, but should you decide you want to be as healthy as possible, this is an excellent place to start:

http://www.amazon.com/Body-Fat-Solution-Principles-Maintaining/dp/1583333290/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Best of luck, whatever you decide!

February 15, 2011 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

THANK YOU so much for writing about this. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. After I did some reading on the "Healthy Weight Network" website, I felt so much better about my shape and my face and all my physical flaws. Am I fat, or voluptuous? Am I chubby, or strong and sturdy? Am I weak for my extra pounds, or light-hearted and fun to be around? You are gorgeous for what you write here, what you're doing with your life, your words, your spirit of adventure and your creativity. (Not to mention that the few pictures I've seen of you are adorable - so you're extra blessed.)

February 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger gooddoug said...

"No one else who is actually enjoying in the ride cares about your ankles, just the people waiting in line do."

I think you should hang this quote up on your wall. It would make a great needlepoint!

February 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Jenna, thank you so much for writing this. I think these same things every day. We hardworking barnhearts tend to be idealistic and it stinks when the really good food we prepare makes us look like fast food junkies. Think about all the thinks you know how to do!!! What happens when our super-industrialized nation crashes and folks have to fend for themselves, growing and preparing their own foods, heating their homes with wood fires, and knitting their own woolens? It will be up to the barnhearts to share what they know and keep everyone happy and healthy.

Jenna, you inspire me to get that farm some day so keep on making good - truly, morally good - food and be proud of it! I bet your soul would sing if it could!

February 15, 2011 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Well said, Jenna, and a good realization to come to. Your body is an engine and it does whatever needs doing to keep the farm going. That's what its purpose, its use, is. And that's just perfect. :)

February 15, 2011 at 1:15 PM  
OpenID mrsrobinett said...

Dear All: Might I suggest this motto: (it certainly helps me when I'm feeling down)

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming--WOO HOO what a ride!"

February 15, 2011 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

You're spot on! I was just like you in this regard. I'm 5'1" and a size 12, and I obsessed and obsessed and obsessed (but LOVED to eat). Eventually I realized that I was far healthier than my skinny friends. I just stopped caring. I decided life was too short, and I'd rather eat the cake. I also decided sometime around age 18 that makeup was stupid. :) I don't miss it, and NO ONE judges me for not wearing any. Here's a hint - if you walk into a room feeling like you look great, everyone else will think you look great too. Stay fit for your health, not for someone else's viewing pleasure.

February 15, 2011 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Remy said...

Hi Jenna,

I've also struggled with my weight. I too LOVE food. I am in no way affiliated with them, but I highly recommend weightwatchers. I've lost 60+ pounds have kept it off for almost two years now. If I did it, believe me, you can too! I think this is the only program that works because I can still enjoy the many foods that I love- the key is portion control. You can still eat your homemade loaves, pulled pork, and bbq but the program teaches you how to eat everything you love with control. I find that with the program I have a much healthier relationship with my food. It can still provide comfort and nourishment, but I no longer let it get the best of me. Also, I've never been to a meeting, I ordered the tools and follow their program online. You could easily avoid the monthly online fee if you have their tools at home. I hope that my story has offered some encouragement. I understand your emotional turmoil, and I only hope that my story provides a viable option for you to succeed and conquer yet another incredible journey. Good luck to you, and thank you for all that you do!

February 15, 2011 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger ~ Janis said...

Being a farmer allows me to eat healthy. Mostly because i have farmer friends who raise all the veggies, honey and fruit that supplement my diet. I have always been a "big boned gal" even when I had hardly any food to eat and worked hard on a dairy farm for 14 hours a day. I am who I am.
You judge yourself too harshly Jenna. You are an agricultural marathoner who sprints thru dozens of different tasks per day and puts 90% of the population to shame.
Be proud of what you CAN do and not ashamed of what you can Not.
Enjoy life...and bagels.
and really nice livestock..
www.tailgait.blogspot.com

February 15, 2011 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Charlene said...

pretty as a prayer book Jenna!

February 15, 2011 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Charlene said...

this isn't radical, btw, unless common sense is radical!

February 15, 2011 at 4:36 PM  
OpenID thatsthelife said...

Jenna, have you tried the tracker "lose it"? It's available as an iphone app which is convenient as hell or I wouldn't use it. It's also available online.

It's a food tracking mechanism I started using because my friend was using it to lose weight and talked about it all the time. I started to use it just to ensure I didn't gain weight during this stressful time in our lives, and I've found it incredibly useful.

I discovered that little habits I had were keeping 10 lbs on me. Things like the amount of oil I cooked in, and my choice or portion of bedtime snack. The best part about this app is I still eat all the stuff I love to eat, and I know for sure exactly where I stand on a given day. So if I know that chocolate is in my calorie budget, I'm utterly guilt free about eating it.

The exercise logging mechanism I found really motivating too. Even housework counts.

That said, I haven't lost a pound - BUT! I'm doing my pants up two belt-loops smaller than I used to, so I'm definitely losing what I don't need (belly) and gaining what I do need (muscle).

I suggest you give it a try just for a week - it'll illuminate where your calories are coming from, and make it easier to find ways to cut out calories you won't even miss.

February 15, 2011 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger USMCmom said...

What a great Valentine's Day gift to give yourself. It's amazing too how when you stop looking for love, it somehow finds you. As for those who would judge you for your ankles, they are probably not the type to kneel beside you in the snow to help deliver a lamb!

February 15, 2011 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger USMCmom said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 15, 2011 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

What a beautiful post. You just go right on loving your body for what it can *do*, and also at the same time hold your head up and say "I am fabulous!" at frequent intervals throughout the day (and make sure you believe it too).

February 15, 2011 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger barnowl1702 said...

I have been reading your blog for a long time and have enjoyed every second of it. Just wanted to say that this is the BEST post ever!! Spoke right to my heart.

February 15, 2011 at 6:47 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I did not intend to come across as someone who is giving up on personal fitness goals, or running, losing weight...any of that. I am actually involved in a very rigerous weightloss plan right now, but I'm not doing it because I dislike who I currently am. I'm doing it because I like myself enough, and accept myself enough, to believe I deserve better health.

I just don't want folks thinking this is a "I'm overweight, deal with it" post.

February 15, 2011 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

...and thank you so much for the kind words here.

February 15, 2011 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...

JENNA,
"SOMETHING RADICAL" IS VERY WELL WRITTEN INDEED LIKE THE "INK
SLINGER" THAT YOU ARE!!!
CLOTHES SIZES ARE JUST NUMBERS; BUT WHAT REALLY COUNTS ARE
NOT OUR REPUTATION SIZE WHCH WE CAN
ALL SEE; BUT OUR CHARACTER SIXE WHICH WE CANNOT SEE!!!
JENNA'S INSPIRATION NUMBERS
ARE OFF OF THE CHARTS BECAUSE OF
THE FACT THAT THIS CAF BLOG HAS HELPED, & INSPIRED ME (& ALL OF YOUR READERS) I'M SURE!!!
BY THE WAY, A BELATED HAPPY
VALENTINE'S DAY!!!
CHEERS WITH A HEALTH DRINK, & YES YOU WILL ONE DAY PINCH YOUR SELF WHEN ALL OF THE PIECES OF YOUR DREAM PUZZLE FALL INTO PLACE BECAUSE, YES, YOU ARE WORKING TOWARDS THEM EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!
RONNIE A VERY HAPPY EX SEAT WEAVER!
http://www.chaircaningdirectory.com

February 15, 2011 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger Harmony said...

This post was incredibly inspirational. You go girl! I had to do the same thing to be happy with myself. Just let go and be who you are. Nobody can take that away from you! And you have to look outside yourself to see what you have accomplished in this life. You are an amazing woman and have done more than many people will do in their lifetime. You're an inspiration to me and many others out there. So keep on keepin' on and live life!

-Harmony

February 15, 2011 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Infinite Possibilities said...

Wow! Love it.

You and I could SO be the best of friends.

You are fantastic girl!!!

Shana

February 15, 2011 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Manzanita Farms said...

Bravo Jenna,

You must re-read this post periodically to remind yourself of the brilliant place of mind you came to today. I love your line "nothing is perfect and if it is it's usually not functional". So true, my dear, so true.

February 16, 2011 at 12:32 AM  
Blogger WOL said...

Darling, I'd kill to be a size ten again.

February 16, 2011 at 12:36 AM  
Blogger WOL said...

Oh, BTW, "Feminism" is based on the radical concept that women are people.

February 16, 2011 at 12:39 AM  
Blogger kwdiving said...

You do realize that the magazine images we are told to aspire to are photoshoped to death, don't you? Even the size two models they use on those shoots are not "perfect" enough. Cut yourself some slack and be grateful you don't look like that. Stressing over everyhing you consume and how you look all the time...How mind numbingly boring. Enjoy the food you grow, the work you do and the life you live. Many of us envy you.

February 16, 2011 at 5:55 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Go look around the internet at farm families and just try and tell me what farm woman IS NOT beautiful???


I dare you!!

February 16, 2011 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Cheezbunny said...

"No one else who is actually enjoying in the ride cares about your ankles, just the people waiting in line do."

I love this!!

February 16, 2011 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger criss said...

I just don't want folks thinking this is a "I'm overweight, deal with it" post.

Well, we certainly wouldn't want that!

Seriously, you worry about people thinking your ANKLES look fat? Do you honestly expect to lose weight from the boniest part of your body?

Life is too damn short to drive yourself crazy like this. You aren't single because you're fat (and you aren't fat, btw, but so what if you were?). I know this because I'm a fat fattie and always have been (and I'm funny-looking to boot, and would be even if I were thin), and yet I have managed to have a string of relationships with attractive men who are attracted to me. Being hot isn't the be-all, end-all, and being thin and perfect is in any case not the same as being hot.

If women stopped all this silliness and focused on things that matter imagine how we could change the world!

February 16, 2011 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Squirrel Leigh said...

From one Percheron to another, thank you. Ok, really I'm more like one of those shaggy, stocky mountain ponies, but who's keeping track?

February 17, 2011 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger jhazen said...

It takes courage to look within, and especially to share what you find with all of us. You are wise and strong, yet courageous enough to be vulnerable. These qualities make you extremely attractive. (If I were a tad younger, and didn't live 3000 miles away, I would have answered the call for interested men you sent out a while ago.)

When you get frustrated that he hasn't found you yet, consider the possibility that it's your partner that needs to grow into himself enough that he's a good fit for the wonderful life you're creating.

I wish you success in accepting the you that you are, and creating the you that you want to be. You're already amazing, so be sure to celebrate!

February 17, 2011 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Um, who is Jillian Michaels??? I will have to google her!

That said, I totally get it Jenna. I had an epiphany last summer about my body, which I have spent a lifetime hating. In the middle of a Nia class I had this overwhelming feeling of acceptance. My body has taken me around the world and now around the block with my two children. My body gave me two beautiful healthy children and if it isn't the same, neither is my life! And my body is healthy albeit a little padded, saggy and stretched. But it does all I ask of it and more.

And like you, food is my life. I recently tried to do a no wheat, no sugar, no dairy, no alcohol, no caffeine and mostly vegan thing and man, it was hard and I was unhappy. Because I love food! I can't limit myself but I can moderate myself.

So, I have decided there is nothing I won't have but lots I will have a little of. I will exercise and appreciate what my body can do. And I will try to remember how many people love me for more than my dress size.

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself.

February 20, 2011 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger Harpy 101 said...

For 2 years I was doing endorsements for ACompanyThatShallRemainNameless, talking about how great it was to lose 27 pounds. Then the radio company ThatShallAlsoRemainNameless fired me.

I'm with a great start-up web magazine now, but I did some TV to promote it...with 27 pounds back on, plus the 5 extra I get every time I do deprivation and my metabolism boomerangs.

I know how some people are going to react to this in my town, and I know that I don't have the luxury of shame or self-pity because of the public eye thing. I've been on the air for 20 years and I refuse to model any cringing. I'm going to stand up proudly if anybody gives me hell about the weight I've gained and meet them cheerfully. I'll look them in the eye. I will offer no explanations to the nasty male (or bitchy female) voices, if I have to confront them.

I'm not comfortable with my weight now, but it's true that the older you get, the less you can eat. It's a fact. So I'm learning to eat less than I want almost all the time, but I haven't learned to ramp down far enough, master it enough, to keep up with a 50-year-old metabolism.

So I'm stealing a stance from a jazz musician I know:

When you hit a bad note or even if you had a bad night and somebody gives you hell about it, look them in the eye and say (with all the cheery condescension that a jazz musician can get away with), "You didn't LIKE that?"

February 22, 2011 at 1:36 PM  

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