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Motivation

Four-ingredient squash parfait.

Jena Chopson

I love easy recipes. 

I love it even more when easy recipes taste this good. 

Sweet tooth, anyone? Read on....

It tastes better than it looks...if that's even possible. 

This recipe is super easy if you have everything on hand. I had leftover butternut squash that I cooked up yesterday, so this was literally as simple as mixing stuff in a bowl then scooping it out and layering it into this glass. 

But if you don't already have cooked squash on hand that's been hanging out in the fridge overnight (I mean, why wouldn't you?), then here's the recipe for this gem. 

Don't forget to let me know if this was appealing to your taste buds by sharing this out to your friends or commenting on this post on social.

What you'll need:

1 butternut squash
Liquid stevia (or packets work, too) 
1 serving of plain greek yogurt
Cinnamon
Carmel, Maple, or Vanilla extracts (optional) 
Honey or maple syrup (optional) 

To cook the squash: 

Cut off top 1/2". Cut lengthwise in half. Scoop out seeds. Place halves face down in a baking dish with 1/4" water. Bake at 350 for 90 minutes. When done, peel off the skin or scoop out the squash. Place squash in mixing bowl. Add 1-2 TBSP of cinnamon (or to taste), a 1/2 tsp liquid stevia (or 1-2 packets as desired), and 1 tsp caramel extract (or choose your flavor here, optional). Mix with electric hand mixer so it's like a fluff or mashed potato like.  

Side note: Butternut squash tastes amazingly sweet all on its own. Adding in extra stevia might be too much. Try it first by itself with a dash of cinnamon to see if you even need the stevia. If you're like me, you probably don't. This squash is the bomb dot com, baby.

You can, of course, eat the squash right away, but if you want to make the parfait, let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. 

For the greek yogurt: 

Place 1 serving (typically 2/3 cup) in a bowl. Add water while stirring to create desired consistency (I prefer a thinner consistency, greek yogurt is a little too thick for my liking. If you like it as is, then skip this step and carry on, you greek yogurt lovin' warrior). Add 1-2 stevia packets or liquid stevia to desired taste. Add in flavor extract of choice, if desired. I mixed in a few drops of maple extract. Blend well in the bowl. 

Side note: If you are new to plain greek yogurt, you may find that you need to add in a drizzle of honey or maple syrup to make it more desirable to your taste buds. I'll give you the green light here, but just don't get carried away, mmmkay? 

Once you have your refrigerated squash and greek yogurt mixture, simply layer them on top of each other at your heart's content. Voila! Heaven in your mouth. 

Now you can tell all your friends you eat dessert for breakfast AND stay on track with your goals.

Cheers,

Jena 

 

Special shoutout to Kevin Butz who showed me the squash ways and gave me several squash recipes. You da man, Kevin! 

If you're a 21-day fix meal plan follower, this recipe counts as 1 green (measured as 2/3 cup), and 1 red. Can we cheers again to that? 


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5 things that happen when you quit telling yourself the BS stories about why you can’t follow that nutrition guide

Jena Chopson

So I recently wrote a blog about excuses and meal prepping. You can read more about that here

But lately, I’ve been hearing excuses after excuses as to why people can’t follow the meal plan. And like I said in the previous post, I completely get it. I’ve done it too—-so many times. 

But what I really want you guys to see is that they are ALL just EXCUSES. I know they sound super noble in your head, and some of them may even be genuinely noble. But they’re still an excuse at the end of the day. You can polish a turd to make it shiny, but it’s still going to be a turd. 

When I was selected to be a part of the Core de Force test group, I made the DECISION that I was going to check my excuses—-ALL of them—- at the door and finally do this shit the way I was supposed to. 

Some amazing things happened when I did that. And you should know about them, because they can happen to you, too if you’re willing to do what you THINK you cannot do (aka, ditch all the excuses): 

 

1.) I spiced up my food life

“But Jena,” you say, “Nothing is spicier than bellying up to the bar and ordering me a big, juicy cheeseburger and fries!” Are you sure about that? I mean, really? Here’s the thing: I love me a good burger just as much as the next person. I can throw back a burger with fries and an IPA like no other. And while it often feels super tasty and satisfying going down, it is almost always met with regret and self-loathing later. 

You can still have your burgers now and then. Even your pizza, too. But what this has really opened me up to is trying so many NEW foods. I have explored foods that I don’t typically eat and I have been more than pleasantly surprised at how much I really love the flavors and how amazing they make me FEEL. 

Gone is that bloated, gross feeling you get after pigging out. Instead, you eat delicious foods and you feel equally amazing afterward

Trying new foods has been hands down my favorite part of this. I make it a challenge to find as many new, healthy recipes I can find using foods I don’t typically eat. I’m often surprised at the amazing stuff I’ve been missing out on. 

Give it a try. There are SO many incredible foods out there. You truly don’t know what you’re missing out on….and your body doesn’t either. Its response to finally getting the nutrition it craves will shock you in the form of more energy, better sleep, and overall higher function.

 

2.) I realized it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. 

I still remember the day I got my 21 day fix package in the mail. I was SO excited. I ripped open the packaging, pulled out those colorful containers, set them on the counter….and then cried. 

“Bbbbuuut, they are SO small!” I exclaimed to myself, in a moment of self-pity. RIDICULOUS! But we all do it, right? The problem was, I hadn’t even given the process a try. I was self sabotaging myself before anything had even begun. All I had done at that point is essentially blow those little containers up with my death defying evil stare and then cry about another “failed attempt” at getting my nutritional shit together. 

It wasn’t until I actually gave the process a try and plated the food out when I realized….holy crap. This isn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, and there is a LOT of really good food here! 

Duh, Jena. Trust the process. Stop freaking out about it before you even give yourself an actual shot at being successful. Quit the BS dialogue happening in your head about all your previous failures you’ve had, and about all the food you CAN’T have, and start focusing on how you’re going to make THIS a freaking success…and focus on the foods you GET to eat. 

 

3.) I got results

This should be a no-brainer, but like I said in my last blog post, you’d be surprised at the number of my clients who are shocked that they didn’t get the results they had hoped for after completing a couple weeks of a program. When asked how the nutrition plan is going, I often get the response, “What nutrition plan?” Or…”Well, aside from my couple cheat days a week, it’s going great!” *Facepalm* 

I won’t essentially re-post my prior blog, but get real with yo-self. Results are probably at the very least 70-80% what you are fueling your body with. Period. End of story. If you can’t commit to fueling your body the way it NEEDS to be fueled, then don’t be shocked when you don’t end up with the results you’d hoped for. It’s like your body needing Premium fuel to function but you continually putting in Regular fuel because you didn’t want to spend the extra 20 cents per gallon….and then wondering why there are always engine problems. Hmmm…..

 

4.) I feel freaking amazing. 

I made mention of this above, but seriously….when you fuel your body right, it rewards you tenfold. I have felt so damn GOOD in the past 3-4 weeks, it is truly hard to describe. 

 

5.) I gained CONFIDENCE

I say this all the time, but when you check your excuses at the door and just go get it done, you exude badassery. 

Now that I have officially meal prepped for 7 night shifts in a row (you read that right), and stuck with a nutrition guide I “thought I could never stick with,” I have a renewed sense of confidence. I also feel like I can relate to everyone who has struggled with nutrition in the past (as I have had my fair share of struggles.....you can read a smidge more about that here!). 

But above all, I just feel confident. I know that I CAN do this, despite the obstacles. It just takes a little willingness, some preparation, and above all, the DESIRE to put my health first. 

 

You can do this, too. If you’re struggling and you need help, I’d love to mentor you through the process. As someone who has struggled tremendously in the past, it feels absolutely incredible to have broken through so many obstacles and come out on the other side. 

I can’t wait until you experience these things, as well. 

Til next time,

 

Jena


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5 things I have learned in the first 2 weeks of Core De Force

Jena Chopson

1.) You need buddies to go on the journey with you.

I don’t care what you say. You can’t go through a lifestyle change alone, no matter what it is. You need at the very least a cheerleader or a friend who supports you 110% along your journey. Brownie points if that friend just happens to be in the trenches with you, walking right along side you. There’s power in linking arms with someone when you’re heading into battle!

Doing this program alongside some good friends has been a HUGE plus for me. It would be 100X more difficult without them.


2.) Accountability is everything.

See #1. A buddy system helps create accountability.  But aside from having others go on the journey with you, you need to shout on the rooftops what your goals are. You need to let everyone know. A silent journey helps no one, especially YOU! If you don’t tell anyone where you’re going, how will they know when you get off course? It’ll be easy to shy away from your goals if you’re the only one who knows about them.

The fact that we’ve had a group of others going on this journey with us, watching us, expecting us to show up, expecting us to check in with our measurements and milestones, creates SO much more accountability. This really is the secret sauce to sticking with something. You want motivation, inspiration, and dedication? Just grab yourself some accountability.

3.) It’s always tough in the beginning when you try something new.

You can’t expect a flawless journey when you decide to make a change. Change is always met with some resistance. It’s hard, especially in the beginning. You’re making a course disruption. We are creatures of habit by nature…..we like our routines and our habits. So when we decide to change it up…is it really any surprise that it’s just plain HARD?!

Week one of Core De Force tested me in every way possible. I knew it was going to be challenging, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for the kind of commitment I was making. But because I had #1 and #2 locked in, I stuck with it. Which lead me to #4…..

4.) …..but if you stick with it, you break through the wall.

Once I had week 1 under my belt, something exciting started to happen: I began to feel AMAZING. With a newfound sense of confidence and badassery, I felt like I could take on the world. I always tell my challengers that starting is the hardest part. And that couldn’t be a truer statement. We build up all these walls and excuses as to why we can’t do something, so we often never try. But if we can be bold enough to push past those fears and just START,  that’s when the magic happens. Piece by piece you begin to chip away at all those walls you build up until there’s nothing left standing but you.

5.)  You are SO much stronger than you think you are.

You know what? We tell ourselves a lot of bullshit stories about ourselves. It’s true. You have them, I have them, we ALL have them.

“I’ve never been strong enough to do ____.”

“I’ve never been able to do _____.”

“I’m just not cut out for _____.”

“I’m not as good as _____ so there’s no way I could _____.”

“I just don’t have that kind of motivation.”

“I’ll never be disciplined enough to do _____.”

We could be here for days. But you get the point, right?

But do you want to know the truth? Like the real truth and nothing but the truth? All of those stories you tell yourself about why you can’t do something are complete BS. All of them.

You are eleventy billion (that’s a lot ;) ) times stronger than you think you are. You are capable of doing so much more than you give yourself credit for. And if you just took that and BELIEVED in it……then whoa. You’d be unstoppable.

I had a lot of BS stories about myself before I started this program, too.  Some of them sounded ridiculous. But a lot of them even sounded noble. I had to be willing to recognize that the only person stopping me from achieving the results I wanted to achieve was ME. I had to believe I was stronger than I thought I was. And you know what? That belief turned out to be the REAL truth, after all.

Never doubt what you are capable of! We all have more potential inside of us to live up to.  

 

Fight for it. 

Jena

 


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Luck.

Jena Chopson

Last night I had someone tell me that I was lucky.

"What do you mean?" I said.

"Well, you're beautiful, you're thin, you have a great job. You're lucky."

Lucky, eh? Here's my take on that:
 

To some extent, she was right. I am lucky that I was born in America, the greatest country on this planet. I am lucky that I was given two incredible parents who raised me in a loving family. And yes, I'm lucky I didn't come out of the womb looking like cyclops. 

But I can assure you that luck had nothing to do with where I have ended up today. 
 

I made the choice to spend 7 years in higher education, busting my ass to be a nurse practitioner. I made the choice to start a business 4 years ago and I have worked consistently at it so that it could create a designed life for us. 
 

Every day I make the decision to eat healthier and exercise so that my body feels vivacious enough to do anything and everything I want to do. 
 

Do you notice a trend here? Choices. Decisions. While most of us walk around thinking life happens TO us, the reality is quite the opposite. This life is the product of the decisions WE MAKE. 
 

We can change our reality at any given moment. It just takes the desire to change and actually act on those decisions. 
 

When you see someone who is successful, I can assure you it isn't luck that got them there. 
 

Behind every success story was someone who dared to do what the majority of others won't do. It's a story of someone who decided they weren't going to settle for ordinary, and so they put a vision into action and made a change....oftentimes making tons of hidden sacrifices along the way. 
 

Luck? I don't know much about that. But I do know a lot about hard work and sweat equity. And I'll choose that path over easy any day of the week.


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My response to "I'm not really doing the meal plan."

Jena Chopson

As a coach, I hear this phrase more often than not. And if I had $1 for every time I heard it, I wouldn't need to go back to work tomorrow ;) 

Are you ready for a dose of honesty today? 

My response to that is: "Then you're really not going to get results." 

Okay, let me take a step back. If anyone gets the struggle, it's me. I am literally the poster child for the phrase "You can't out-exercise a bad diet." Over the years I have been downright loyal to my workouts, exercising consistently 5-7 days a week for years. Workouts I do NOT miss. My nutrition on the other hand? Let's just say consistency isn't quite the word I would use to describe it. 

I've successfully completed SEVERAL workout programs. With some I have gotten great results, and with others, I have gotten MINIMAL results. What gives? Was it the workout program? NO. Was it because I didn't go hard enough? HELL NO! So what was the game changer? Duh....FOOD. 

I have made excuse after excuse as to why I don't follow proper nutrition like I should. Do any of these sound familiar? 

"I don't like to meal prep."

"I don't have time to meal prep."

"I don't want to spend my weekends off in the kitchen cooking all day." 

"I am super active, so I don't really need to worry about what I eat." 

"I can just wing it."

"I hate being told what to eat." 

"I don't want to cook different things for me and my family." 

"Let's face it, I just really like food."

The list goes on and on and on and on......

But if I'm truly being honest, those are genuinely all excuses. The excuses we create can even sometimes sound noble. I'm sure some of my excuses have., too. But what it REALLY comes down to whether you want to admit it or not is this: It's just not that important to you. 

We make time for what is truly important to us. We will move mountains for what REALLY matters to us. If we aren't putting time and effort into our health & nutrition, it isn't because of ANY excuse. It is because it just doesn't rank that high on the totem pole of priorities.  

This past week I have made the DECISION that nutrition IS hella important to me. What has taken place since that simple decision has been nothing short of incredible:

I've made time to make healthy meals. 

I've meal prepped (and I didn't die). 

I've been cognizant of what I have shoved in my face. 

I've created dinner solutions that don't involve me making a separate meal for Doug. I make ONE meal that works for BOTH of us (it's very possible, people). 

And the RESULT? 

Well for starters, amazing food like this: 

Spicy burgers made with local, lean ground beef

Strawberries with Greek Yogurt

Taco salad with lean turkey burger

But more importantly than pretty food pictures, I just FEEL better. It's amazing how well your body responds to FUELING it with better stuff: 

You sleep better.

Your head feels clearer. 

The bloat goes away. 

Digestion improves. 

And if you have it, the excess weight falls off. 

It's day FOUR of committing to this new journey and the excess weight is already starting to fall off for me. I'm already feeling so much better, especially after eating nothing but junk last week. 

What's more is it REALLY ISN'T THAT HARD. Especially with the systems I have in place for me. These systems have made it so much easier than I imagined. I think we create these mountains in our heads about things when really, at the end of the day, that's all they are---made up things in our heads! 

So I am challenging YOU. If you have made the commitment to start MOVING more, then don't sabotage yourself and all your hard work by putting junk in your body every day. Go ALL IN and start treating the one and only body you have to live in with a little respect. Mmmmkay? 

And as always, if nutrition is something you need HELP with, then I have some tools for you that can help (they are certainly helping me!). I would love to mentor you and walk with you on this journey towards better health.  If you want to chat more, comment on this post or head on over to the CONTACT section and reach out. 

Cheers! 

Sparkling Water with Lime

 

XOXO,

Jena 

 


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When getting back to routine isn't so routine

Jena Chopson

It's that time of year again. Time when the kids go back to school, parents give a celebratory high fives, and relish in the fact of finally getting back to routine. 

But is it really that simple? After becoming accustomed to a particular summer routine, sometimes it isn't so easy just to hit the brakes and transition to a new one.

Let me be frank--I don't have kids of my own, so I can't speak to this personally. But I do have many friends with children, I have step daughters, and I know a thing or two about switching routines. 

I, myself work nine 12-hour night shifts in a row, then I get 12-14 days off. During those 12-14 days off, I often try to switch back to a "day shift" schedule. This always sounds super simple in theory, until it isn't. My body really gets into that nigh shift routine and when I try to abruptly switch it back, it is met with a LOT of resistance. 

I've spent the last two nights wide awake (despite taking sleep aid before bed) to the point where I've said screw it...and just got out of bed and got stuff done. Seize the moment, right? 

What's my point here? Don't beat yourself up if your back to school transition doesn't go as smoothly as you planned it. It's a course correction for everyone involved and it's going to take time to iron out. Here's my top 5 tips for surviving a tough transition in your routine: 

1.) Expect setbacks. If you go into this knowing there will absolutely be hiccups, you won't be as discouraged when those hiccups actually happen. 

2.) Allow time for the transition to stick. It's probably going to take 1-2 weeks before the dust settles. Be patient and....

3.) Take it one step at a time. You truly can't expect an overnight success. Work on transitioning slowly. Crank back bedtimes 30 minutes at a time, work on preparing 2-3 out of the 5 lunch meals at a time and working your way up to 5, slowly transition back to after school routines. Don't expect to implement everything at once. You'll completely overwhelm yourself and everyone involved. 

4.) Somehow make it fun and roll with the punches. Get creative and see how you can make the transition fun. Delegate am or pm tasks, use a sticker chart or check box chart and reward the kids with a fun family outing on the weekends. Or insert whichever idea sounds fun to you. The more fun you can make something, the better. 

5.) Remind yourself that you matter, too. I feel like back to school time often becomes 100% about the kids. And yes, mostly it is. But you can't give from an empty tank. Make sure you're taking at least 30 minutes a day for you. Whether that is reading a book, exercise, meditation, listening to your favorite podcast, or dancing in your living room....you have to fill your cup before you can give to others. 

The only constant in life is change. We all go through transitions of routines that are met with resistance. I hope these 5 tips can help you navigate through your next transition a little more smoothly. 

To your health! 

XoXo,

Jena 


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When you don't see eye to eye....

Jena Chopson

I get a lot of questions about what to do when you have an "unsupportive spouse" when it comes to your health & fitness journey, or when it comes to your new business. 

Although Doug is doing a workout program with me now, it most definitely has not always been this way. Allow me to show you a picture of what our workout partnership has looked like for 99% of the time we have been together: 

 Doug sitting in our front yard propped up with a Miller Lite while I race my 5K. 

Doug sitting in our front yard propped up with a Miller Lite while I race my 5K. 

This is a topic I get really passionate about. Allow me to share a little bit of my story....

I've always been into health and fitness my entire life. Don't make fun of me--I literally have memories of running around the playground at recess as a young child with the GOAL to work up a sweat. Not exactly what most little girls aim to achieve at recess, right? 

Even though I haven't always been healthy (you can read more about that here), being athletic, active, and conscientious about my health has always been a huge passion of mine.  So of course as opposites tend to attract, I wind up marrying a man who basically has zero interest in all of the aforementioned topics. ZERO. 

Let's be honest. I married him this way. I knew the man I was marrying going into this whole thing. Still, I would be lying if I said it didn't sting a little bit every time I headed out for a run, or downstairs to do my workout, alone

This great divide became all the more apparent when I started a business as a health and fitness coach. I'm not going to say he was unsupportive, because to me that means he was basically doing everything in his power to make sure I didn't succeed. He was more, shall I say, standoffish. "Do whatever you want babe, but I think it's all ridiculous." That was a better way to describe it. And even though that's better than being completely unsupportive, it still sucked.  This was a HUGE deal to me and a HUGE passion of mine, and something I was really excited about....and he just wasn't excited.  

So what did I do? You might think I came up with some elaborate plan to bring him over to the "dark side," right? Well, you'd be wrong. You see, you can't change other people. Even when that person happens to be your spouse. The only thing you can do is better yourself and aim to become a better person, spouse, individual, whatever and continue to set the example along the way. 

I had no idea if Doug would ever develop an interest in his own health and fitness, but I always knew that he would have to come to terms with that on his own. If you're in the health & fitness space, you know as well as I do that we cannot force anyone to want to change, they have to want it for themselves first. 

I asked Doug about a week ago, "What was it that finally made you commit to your health?" And he basically responded with, "I was tired of being the fat kid. And I knew it would only bring us closer. So I went all in." That's the Doug version of saying what we hear all too often from people who finally hit their breaking point and are ready to make a change: Enough is enough. Something has to change. 

The key point here is this: If I had given up on him, on myself, on the journey....then he might never have come to these terms. If you feel like you have an "unsupportive" spouse, if you feel like your significant other will never make his or her health a priority, if you feel like you are alone--Don't. Give. Up. 

Stay consistent. Stick with it. Continue to work on and develop yourself. Pray for him or her, for your relationships. And who knows? You may one day be taking sweaty selfies with your spouse after crushing a workout---together. 

 Post workout sweaty selfie...aka everything to me <3 

Post workout sweaty selfie...aka everything to me <3 

Relate to this story at all and want to chat more? Feel free to reach out to me, I'd love to talk. 

Xoxo, 

Jena 


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The Journey to UltraMarathoner

Jena Chopson

I’m not even sure where the conversation started. My memory is foggy here, but if I had to guess, it probably went something like this:

“I’m going to run the Huff 50K with so and so…you should run with us!”

“...{Insert very brief pause}….okay, I’m in!”

That’s generally how I end up signing up for most races. Friend A says I should totally do said awesome race, and I ask when and where. It’s almost scary to think that there was very little thought put in to the fact that I would be running 31 miles.

Thirty-one miles.

You almost have to be careful going around telling people you’re going to run 31 miles. In the past month I’ve been told I was crazy or insane what feels like a million times. And of course the phrase, “I don’t even like to drive 31 miles” has been uttered more times than I can count. You tell someone you’re about to run a marathon and you might hear some of that crazy talk, but mostly you’re a hero. Slap on an extra 5 miles and you’ve gone from gym class hero to the star of the looney bin.

Despite all the crazy talk, and the fact that I hadn’t run a full marathon since January, I felt somewhat ready. I had been running consistently since July—when I paired up with a kick ass running coach & decided I wanted to shoot for a half-marathon PR at Indy Monumental in November (which I achieved by the way, by 6 minutes!)—and so I knew I had built up the stamina. Yes, it was going to be challenging at that distance, but I knew if I kept it slow and steady, I could finish. And that’s all that mattered to me!

As race day finally came, many talked about how cold it was. It had been nearly 70 degrees the weekend before, and that morning it was a balmy 22 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel somewhere around 10 degrees (or less). I’ve always said I am a cold-weather running fan and I feel that held true at this race. I didn’t mind the cold at all. I dressed for the cold and I was insanely grateful that it was not raining…or snowing…or that there was already 3 feet of snow on the ground or 6 inches of mud to run through. In fact, the course was one of the driest many had ever seen it. Cold schmold. I was thrilled to have these wonderful conditions.

 At the start...before I knew what I was getting into! ;)

At the start...before I knew what I was getting into! ;)

So at approximately 8:15am, we set out. And by we, I mean myself and my ahhhh-mazing running coach, Michael Scott. I’ve written about the importance of having mentors and coaches in your life in the past, and I’ll echo that sentiment here: If you’re looking to kick ass in any area of your life, consider getting a coach (whatever kind that might be). Connecting with this guy was one of the best decisions I could have ever made for my running “career.” But I digress….

The course was two 15.5 mile loops. In a state park. In the woods. With hills. Trail running. I’m a novice trail runner for sure, having only run limited trail runs in the past. So I knew my pace would be substantially slower. We set out and I settled into my pace and it felt great. We walked the hills, ran the rest. Michael started telling me all his amazing running stories and I did a lot of listening (mostly in awe). I love running with other people. It takes me out of my own head and helps me to just live in the moment. It’s one of my favorite aspects of running.

During one of the aid stations, we switched over to a caffeine-containing nutrition which I later regret. I was feeling great until shortly after this….and when we came up towards the end of the first loop, I was ready to hit that next aid station to regroup. My stomach ached, I was nauseated, and it was becoming really hard for me to take anything in. Rut-roh, only half way and I’m already feeling not so great. I’m not going to lie—when we made it to the end of the first loop, I had serious doubts. I hurt. I didn’t know if I could make it an entire loop again. What if I started feeling worse? If Michael wouldn’t have been there pushing me the whole way…who knows. But he kept telling me he would drag my ass through that second loop if he had to. So after some regrouping, off we went.

The second loop was of course slower. My legs were starting to get fatigued, but to be honest I still felt pretty good at the start of the second loop—except for the nausea and stomach pains. Michael gave me a ginger chew and I kept on going. I told him to keep talking—anything to take my mind off my stomach. We continued to walk the hills and I made every effort to run as much as possible in between. I had to stop and walk a couple times, but for the most part I kept on “running.” I use “running” in quotations at this point because somewhere after mile 20-something, it definitely became more of a shuffle which we laughed at. Keep on shuffling, keep on shuffling….

 Having a good time!

Having a good time!

26.3 miles. I had officially run my furthest distance…ever. That was a huge win within the race itself. I shook my celebratory fist in the air when Michael announced that we hit that.

But those last 5 miles. Those were something. I was still in pretty good spirits until we hit somewhere around mile 29. Two miles to go. Sounds simple, right? Except for some reason in that moment it felt like eternity. It felt like I would never get there. And at a time when I wanted to continue to pace myself and take it easy, there was Michael---God love him---telling me, “No more walk breaks! We’re running it in! Let’s pick it up!”

Pick it up?!? Pick WHAT up?

My legs literally felt like 50lb bricks. Lead. Everything hurt. If you ask what hurt the most—I have no idea. Even my back and shoulders hurt. And he’s telling me to pick it up. I don’t know if he knows this or not, but I had several moments in those last 2 miles where I was fighting back tears. In the moment I thought I wanted to cry because I hurt so badly, but looking back, I think it was all heart and emotion.  Realizing that I really was going to finish this. I was going to push past this pain and achieve something that so few others on this planet do.  Hearing the echoes of the words from those in my past who told me I should hang up running, that I wasn’t any good at it so why bother. And here I was…about to run 31 freaking miles. I was going to become an ULTRAMARATHONER.

 Hurting....

Hurting....

Fighting. Back. Tears.

And then I could see the tent. I could see the finish area. It was right there. I just had to finish it out. And as we came to the final leg of it, out of nowhere (literally) pops my husband. In his hands he has a cap and gown (to help me celebrate the fact that I’m graduating Nurse Practitioner school today!) and he falls in stride with us. We’re all smiles. All of us. And I’m also in shock that my husband is running. Doug. Is. Running. What?!? ;)

As we run up to the finish line, all I can do is turn to Michael and say, “Thank you! Thank you SO much!”

Official finish is 6:35:16. Beautiful.

 WE DID IT!

WE DID IT!

I’m handed my buckle and I walk over as Doug literally sweeps me off my feet in elation. He’s screaming—literally—screaming—“YOU DID IT! YOU DID IT!” And in that moment, despite all the doubts I’ve ever had along the journey, I know he gets it. He understands what this day means to me both from a running standpoint and from a gradschool/nursing standpoint and it’s all I can do to refrain from screaming like a crazy woman right along with him.

 

I’ll never forget that day and what it meant to me. And the best part is, it’s only a mere milestone in the greater journey that lies ahead.

<3


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How to survive the feast.

Jena Chopson

Here we are again. Thanksgiving. This is generally an awesome time of year as it kicks off time spent with family, kicking it back a notch, and the season of giving.

It can also kick off a season of adding a few inches to your waistline.

I’ve had my share of holiday seasons where the holidays definitely won and my waistline lost. But the past couple of years I have come to figure out how to create a balance and prevent the average 10lb + weight gain over the holidays (yes, people really do gain 10lbs + over the holidays…crazy right?).

So here’s my top 5 tips on how to enjoy the holidays without loosening your belt buckle:

1.)  It ain’t no rest day.  Look, if you are planning on indulging (and if that’s what you WANT to do, then I think you should), then you should at least plan to get a sweat session in that day. Plan on getting it done first thing in the morning so you don’t have excuses for why you’re too stuffed and tired to do it later.

2.)  Cut back a little the day before and the day after. Create a balance in your week by perhaps cutting out 1 carb serving the day before and the day after Thanksgiving. I say carbs because we ALL know how carb-laden Thanksgiving day meals are. It’s not like we sit around saying “Man, I really over did it on the green beans and salad on Thanksgiving!”

3.)  Portion it out. You CAN have that pie and eat it too. Just stay mindful of your portions and keep it to ONE trip…mmmkay?

4.)  Leave room for the veggies, too. Look—have the turkey, stuffing, etc, but FIRST plate your food with veggies and be generous with those portions. That leaves less room for the other stuff ;)

5.)  Finally, don’t let this be your slippery slope. Thanksgiving is ONE day. It’s not your excuse to give up and turn the whole month of December into a huge indulgement fest. Have your day and then get back on track.  If you want my secret to getting back on track, I highly suggest trying something simple like the 3-Day Refresh to get you focused back on clean eating and nix those sugar cravings (literally in 3 days). You can read more about that here.

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. So please DO. You are not allowed to beat yourself up for enjoying a holiday. Life is about creating balance, and I hope these tips can help.

Happy Thanksgiving, fit friends.

Jena


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The person in your corner

Jena Chopson

Yesterday after a long 13ish hour shift at work, I sat down and had a great phone conversation with a dear friend of mine.

We started talking about my decision to do the Huff 50K and she asked about how many miles that was. "About 32ish," I said. Without hesitation and with what sounded like the utmost confidence in the world, she replied, "You can totally do that." And then she went on to justify why.

I hope each and every one of you has someone like that in your life who can always be in your corner with unwavering faith. This woman has always believed in me and given me confidence when I have had doubts.

Behind every successful person, I firmly believe there's an entourage of amazing people who love, support, and believe in them unconditionally. Do me a favor: Next time you talk to one of those people, thank them. We are so much better & can accomplish so much more because of them.

Who is that person for you?


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