Even After All This Time

I’m fourteen months into this whole healthy lifestyle thing. I’ve completely changed myself, not only in how I eat, but in my attitude toward health, fitness, and life in general. If you picked up the current me and plopped her next to me at the end of 2014, you would be hard-pressed to find many similarities. I’m still the quiet introvert, but even that is beginning to change as I lose weight and gain confidence.

As much as I change, as many miles as I walk, as large as my average caloric deficit… it’s easy to forget that I’m not perfect in any regard, weight loss or not. Yes, I’ve been incredibly successful. I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I will continue to lose. However, even to this day I have my moments where I let old habits just barely peek their head back into my world.

Take tonight for example: I left work today with 790 calories left for the day. That’s a little bit more than normal, but I wasn’t very hungry this morning or afternoon. By the end of the workday, however, I was ravenous. My husband picked up Panda Express, but because I’m currently in the middle of a Whole30, I grabbed a Chipotle Salad for myself. It was my usual: double carnitas, mild and medium salsa, and guacamole. 700 calories by their online nutrition calculator, which is a complete estimation because all of the toppings are scooped by hand as quickly as possible. Tonight I thought my server skimped a little.

I gobbled my salad, and was still a bit hungry.

Normally, I’d drink a glass of water and walk away to play with my daughter because I had hit my calorie goal for the day. Tonight, I made a banana-kale smoothie and split it with her.

But I didn’t stop with that. Something clicked in my brain and in what felt like an out-of-body experience, completely detached from emotion, I found myself scouring the pantry and fridge for whatever I could put in my mouth.

After the smoothie it was a pickle. Then another. I ate a cashew cookie and coconut cream pie Larabar so quickly that I don’t even remember tasting them. A spoonful of coconut manna. Almond butter. A handful of macadamia nuts. As I was putting a bowl of leftover taco meat in the microwave, I snapped out of it and said out loud, “what am I doing!?”

I put the lid back on the meat, placed it back in the fridge, and brushed my teeth so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat any more.

At least it was all Whole30 compliant?

As easy as it would be to be disgusted with myself, I think it’s important to compare tonight’s binge with a binge a year ago.

A year ago, a night like tonight would mean my entire week was ruined. I may as well eat crap until Monday when I restarted on “Day One.”

A year ago, this would have happened weekly, and the calorie count would have been monumentally higher.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to stop when I did tonight, likely eating myself sick and purging afterward.

I’m not perfect. I am so incredibly far from perfect, in fact. While I make a lot of really positive choices for myself, I do still make a few bad ones. But you know what? That’s okay. I have come such a long way. What I ate tonight will not influence what I eat tomorrow, the next day, or the days after that. I ate a lot of unplanned food tonight. I will try to log it as accurately as possible, (though I definitely did not utilize my food scale) and I will move forward.

That’s how I’ve been successful. It’s not because I’m perfect, but because I always move forward. Regardless of how today goes, tomorrow I will try to do better. Walk faster. Push harder.

14 months and 115 pounds later, and I still make mistakes. But I will continue to love myself in spite of them, and I really hope you do too.





When Your Life Shatters

In 2012, the twelfth of December was a Wednesday. I was five months pregnant and lying down was just beginning to become uncomfortable enough that once I actually managed to fall asleep, every moment of it was cherished. My alarm went off at 5:30 a.m.. Snooze. 5:39 a.m.. Snooze. I knew that was the last snooze I was allowed, one more and I’d be late for work. Just as I began to drift back into sleep, my phone sounded again. This time it wasn’t the alarm. Still foggy, I fumbled to answer the incoming call, and by the time I managed, I had missed it. It was from my mom’s cell phone. She had been in the hospital that week for complications from an illness she had been battling for the past few years. My whole body shook as I dialed her number. Good news does not travel via telephone at 5:40 a.m..Read More »

5 Tips for the Beginning of your Journey

Everywhere you look on the internet you’ll find advice on losing weight. There will be good advice and (very) bad advice. Sometimes it’s hard to weed out what you should actually listen to. Here are the top five things that have helped me through the past year, and may help you as you just start out:


You’re probably really excited about the prospect of being healthy. You should be! It is really exciting to imagine yourself living a healthy lifestyle. After all, it’s what we all want, right? I doubt any of you sitting on the couch 50 pounds overweight because that’s the life you’ve imagined for yourself. However. Despite your inclinations to make ALL THE CHANGES(!!!), try setting a few small goals for yourself each week, and add to them gradually. Going all in works for some, but for others it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and like your end goal is impossible. Logging all of your food intake, even without any dietary changes, is a good starting point. It eases you into the lifestyle change and helps you see the areas of your diet that need to be addressed.


While weight loss is a much desired side effect, the overall goal should be to lead a healthier life. You’re not going to reach that goal by crash dieting, because it’s not sustainable. Neither is going on a grapefruit diet if you hate the taste of grapefruit, or giving up pizza if it’s your favorite food. Diets (and I mean that in the sense of what a person eats, rather than weight loss diets) are incredibly personal. Everyone eats differently, exercises differently, and just lives differently. Tailor your plan to your life and make it something that you can genuinely see yourself living with for the rest of your life. What works for me may not necessarily work for you. I calorie count– almost obsessively. That works for me, and I can see myself doing it long-term. Calorie counting may be frustrating to the person next to me, however. She may see it as too much work and she prefers to just cut her portions in half and eat more nutritious foods—that’s okay, too. You’re much more likely to stick with something if it’s enjoyable to you!


We are all human. We are not perfect and we will make mistakes. I repeat, you WILL make mistakes. You will eat something that probably wasn’t the most nutritious option, or maybe you’ll even binge. You have to forgive yourself. This is a long journey—it’s the rest of your life, really. You can’t beat yourself up for not being perfect every day. Teach yourself early to get up, brush off your pants, and keep going. Don’t look at these mistakes like they’re “slip ups,” think of it more as just life. Life is imperfect, and that’s okay.


I know that I’ve already talked about this, but water is your best friend when you’re trying to lose weight. Read my last post (and enter the giveaway while you’re at it!) to learn more about the benefits of proper hydration. It’s great for your overall health, but drinking more water truly does help you to eat less and curb cravings. Keep a bottle next to you and use it as a tool to help you stay on track.


Not only is the number on the scale JUST a number, but it’s a number that’s measuring more than just your body fat. It will fluctuate, and for so many reasons! Muscle gain, water retention, undigested food! Remember to look at the overall trend rather than each individual number. Fridays are my official weigh-in days, though I step on the scale every morning. This morning my weight was only .3lbs lower than last Friday. Looking at my food diaries and the exercise that I’ve logged, I know that I should be down at least two pounds. I know that this weight isn’t fat, and that it will come off eventually. I’m going to keep eating well, drinking my water, and going on. That’s it. I saw the number, said “meh,” and went about my day. If you stick to your goals, the weight will come off.

What’s the best tip you can give to someone just starting out?

Why you need to drink more water! (And a small giveaway)

EDIT: Congratulations to Erica who won the bottle! I hope it helps you to reach your hydration goals!

Yay, @ericaswhole30! DM me your address and I'll get this in the mail sometime this week!

A post shared by Jenna D. (@atotal180) on

We all know that water is imperative to our health. We also know that we should be drinking at least 8 cups of water a day. You may not have known, however, that for many people that’s not enough.

On average, a person should drink anywhere from .5 oz to 1 oz of water per pound of body weight. 8 cups of water, or 64 oz, would therefore only be the recommended intake for a person who weighs around 120 lbs! That may be a shocking revelation to some!

At my heaviest, I should have been drinking somewhere around 165 oz of water daily. That’s more than a gallon. It seemed like an unattainable number, and though I’m not sure I ever got that high, I did take steps to gradually increase my intake until I got to about 120 oz each day, give or take depending on my activity level… and I feel so much better for it!

Increasing your water intake can lower your risk of bladder and colon cancer, make digestion easier, clear your skin up, and decrease headaches. There are so many health benefits to staying properly hydrated. Like oil in a car, our bodies run best when they’re given plenty of water.Read More »

My Day in Calories (And a recipe that you can’t pass up!)

If you read my last post, I’m sure it was easy to deduce that calorie counting is my preferred method of weight loss. While I stand by the fact that the ONLY way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than your body uses, there are many means to that end. Whether it’s portion control, exercise, low carb, what have you, if you’re losing weight it’s because you’re eating at a caloric deficit. I prefer to count my calories because I am kind of a perfectionist. I know it’s not for everyone, but I like knowing the exact number of calories that I’m eating– that way I have a really good idea of how the scale is going to move. Some mornings I step on and it’s gone up, but I know that I’ve eaten within my budget so I know it’s not fat that I’m gaining.

I like to be precise. Calories better watch out, because I don’t let many slip by me! I use a food scale in conjunction with Myfitnesspal (Are you on there too? Add me!) If you’re going to count calories, a good food scale is really essential because it’s the only accurate way to measure your food. Take a tablespoon of peanut butter, for example. You can measure it one of two ways: with a measuring spoon or with your food scale. According to the jar, a tablespoon is 16 grams of peanut butter. Even if you measure the most level tablespoon possible, it will often weigh more than 16 grams. I’ve experimented a bit, and I’ve seen as much as 25 grams, which is actually a lot of calories to be sneaking into your diet each day!

But I digress. So, armed with a food scale and MFP, I thought it might be fun to show you a day in the life of, food style. Read More »

Losing Weight is Simple

I’m going to preface this post with the fact that I am not a dietitian, nutritionist, or doctor. I am just someone who has taken the time to put in the research and who has lost a pretty substantial amount of weight on my own over the past year. Disclaimer aside, this is a topic that I can get really passionate about. (Coming back after I’ve written the post, I think I got a little bit rambley. TL;DR: Eat fewer calories than you burn. I eat 1200 a day to lose 2 pounds a week)

Losing weight is incredibly simple. That’s a loaded statement, I know, but it’s actually something that I find to be really comforting. The diet industry is huge and there are so many people who are looking to profit off of those who need to lose weight. People desperately seek shortcuts, looking to take the easy way out, and the diet bigwigs profit. But the fact of the matter is, you don’t need all of that.

I know that if I consume fewer calories than my body uses each day for energy, I will lose fat. Period. I don’t have to worry about eating five meals a day, or eating certain nutrients at certain times. It’s so much simpler than that. Figuring out just how many calories my body uses and how many I need to eat to lose the amount of fat that I want is slightly more complicated, but the basic weight loss equation is this: If Calories Burned > Calories consumed, then you will lose. Read More »


The first thing anyone asks me when they find out I’ve lost as much as I have is, “How did you do it!?” Of course I’ll get to that, but I feel like I’d be remiss not to first show you where I am today. When you’re losing weight, whether it’s a large or a small amount, the day to day actions kind of feel insignificant. You make better choices, you mindfully decide to be more active, but the change happens gradually. It’s not until you step back and look at where you were that you can finally appreciate how monumental the change has been.

I’m not perfect. I’ve had a lot of victories, but I’ve also had a fair amount of failures. In the same sense, my body is not perfect. It never will be, and that’s okay. It’s the only one I have and I’m growing to love it– not in spite of its imperfections, but because of them.

I’ve treated my body pretty poorly in the past. This last year has been my most sincere apology to it. Every positive choice I’ve made has been a little love note. A whisper of I’m sorry. And, thankfully, I think it’s finally starting to forgive me.

So. In treating my body with respect, I went from this…

320 lbs. Shortly after I had started losing; my first Dietbet weigh-in.

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An Introduction

It seems as though every weight loss story begins with, “I’ve been overweight my whole life” or, “My weight has been a struggle for as long as I can remember.” So… at the risk of sounding cliche– Hi. My name is Jenna. I have been overweight since childhood, and morbidly obese through most of my adulthood. When I was 8, I was the pudgy girl in ballet, worrying more about the way my leotard stretched over my belly than I did my pirouettes or pas de bourrees. By junior high, I was shopping in the women’s section of Mervyn’s, and by high school I was pushing my size 18 pants to the limit. Overweight, obese, and then morbidly obese. It’s been my reality for just about my entire existence.

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