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What’s my “S”? December 8, 2015

Posted by jeneypeney in a little help from my friends, all growed up, in it to gym it, life, return to athleticism, tattoos-day, Uncategorized.
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I have this great idea for a new tattoo. I want to get the outlines of all the states I have lived in together as they are on a map across my thigh; Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota, and Minnesota. I also want to put a star on the spot of each town I have called home; Park Forest, Oak Creek, South Bend, Fargo, and Hewitt.

In my mind, this tattoo is badass and would echo those big changes in my life that always seem to be marked by a move.

But in reality, it will show so much more.

It will show the fact I never really found a place to truly call my home. It will show the sad truth that I’ve moved so much that I failed to keep in touch with SO many friends. This tattoo will show the matter of how I’ve never really found my footing in my professional career; I’ve never found my true passion. It will show that I have simply felt lost and alone for well over a decade.

All of this instability and uncertainty came to an epic climax when my mother died and no more than 3 months later my husband and I moved to a town with a population smaller than my high school graduating class. I was truly on the edge of a very long, very destructive downward spiral.

Alas, in the infamous words of my late grandfather, “Things work out.” And work out, things did.

You see, my mother’s passing kick-started a sort of obsession – not so much with health – but with not kicking the bucket. The last thing I wanted was to pass away from a heart attack that I could have prevented before I even turned 55. So when a good friend of mine entered me into a contest for a month of free personal training, I took her up on it. That is when 3S Fitness came into my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.

The 3 “S”s of 3S Fitness are strength, sweat, and soul. There is also an unofficial, invisible “S” – support. But in reality, the “S” that this company provides for ME that is most important is STABILITY. And I’m not just talking the kind that you get from the million and a half minutes of planks my trainer has assigned to me since starting my training program.

I have incredible workouts that I can count on to make me sore everyday (never has peeing or washing my hair been such a challenge) – and a trainer that I know will be with me every step of the way.

After years of depriving myself of foods and obsessing over calories, I have finally developed a healthy and satisfying relationship with food.

I now have a job that I adore. I work from home. I have been granted the opportunity to help women – and men! –  grow with fitness and healthy relationships with food. I am ACTUALLY using both of my degrees. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding and fulfilling career.

I finally have an incredible group of friends that transcend distance and location. The 3SFitFam is an incredible group of women who will lift you up when you are failing, congratulate your accomplishments, and tell you it’s okay when you really just don’t feel like being a human that day.

So what’s your “S”? I suggest you begin with START. 



Death is only hard for the living. May 11, 2015

Posted by jeneypeney in Uncategorized.
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“Three years ago, I spoke at my grandfather’s memorial service. At the time, the words came to me as clear as day and I had very little trouble putting words to paper. But I had written that speech in my head for years. I had time to figure out what I was going to say about my Grandpa Hodson long before he passed. But I had no idea how to write one of these for my mother. Not yet.”

The card you SHOULD have given me.

The card you SHOULD have given me.

Let’s be honest. I still have a hard time describing how the death of my mother has impacted my life. The hardest part was how it just… happened. My mother wasn’t sick. She didn’t have cancer or any other terminal condition. My mother wasn’t actively dying.

And then POOF! In the span of a few hours she was fucking dead.

You learn a lot when someone close to you dies. You learn even more when that person is a parent. But I am not writing this blog post to vomit all of that “seize the day” and “life is short” nonsense to you. What I want to do today is talk about how to handle the grieving adult children of the deceased. From my experience, no one really knows how to do that. No one.

My mother’s viewing and memorial service were two of the most painfully awkward and excruciatingly frustrating days of my life. Why? Because being a twenty-something with a dead parent is an elite club that a small fraction of our population belongs to. I get it – you have no idea how to handle me. You have zero clues to how I am feeling. You are at a complete loss for how to comfort me because candy and hugs and “mommy’s an angel now” talk stopped being a viable option roughly two decades ago. My dark and sarcastic dead mom jokes make you uncomfortable. I get it.

So I have pulled together five basic guidelines that will help you express your sympathies in a way that will help everyone involved get through the muck and the tears in one relative piece. Granted, everyone grieves in their own way and not all five of these guidelines will apply to every single young adult that loses a parent. But from my experience, these rules would have made laying my mother to rest just a bit more bearable.

1. Don’t expect us to act like children.
I cannot tell you why, but after most people were done giving me hugs and telling me how sorry they were for my loss, I felt like they kind of stood there almost waiting for me to entertain them. As if I was some seven year old girl who wants to tell you all about her new teddy bear so you can forget how awful death can be. But the truth is I am not a child anymore and I don’t have a new teddy bear; I have crippling debt from student loans and a car that needs an oil change. I may be a child of the deceased, but I am not a child. Whether you want to believe it or not, I graduated from the kids table at Thanksgiving a LONG time ago. I have had enough life experience to fully comprehend the gravity of the situation and the only cute thing I have to tell you is about the girl who just crashed my mom’s wake. You have treated me like an adult at every family function for years now – don’t make this day different.

2. Tell us your memories.
The priest who presided over my mother’s memorial continuously reiterated how important the sharing of stories was to the grieving process. With that being said, the only two people who told me anything were my dad and an old childhood friend of my mother. (The latter only divulged his story after I asked him to.) But people shared TONS of memories with my father. I can’t tell you what made me different – but it was disappointing to come away with barely anything after roughly 12 hours of being showered with sympathy. Pro tip: I WANTED to hear about my mom. It doesn’t hurt to remember the past or learn about her childhood. And just in case you don’t realize it: I am 29 years old and I probably participated in just as many shenanigans and done just as much stupid shit as she had by my age. I have had sex with multiple people. I have drank so much I gave lap dances I don’t remember doing. Your risqué story about how my parents met at a wet t-shirt contest is not going to soil my memory of mom – tell them!

3. Do not tell us about your dead parent.
This one might rub people the wrong way, but it has to be said: unless your parent died in almost the exact same fashion, around the same age, and when you were a young adult – don’t tell me about how hard it was to lose them. Yes, I understand that losing a parent is hard no matter when or how it happens. “Absolutely terrible” is an understatement and I don’t wish it on anyone. But to be quite frank, your mother dying in her 80s after a long battle with cancer does not mean you truly know how I am feeling. I will never get to buy my mother a “World’s Greatest Grandma” mug. I will never get to celebrate my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary (not to mention their 50th). My mother will never send me cheesy “You’re Old Now!” 30th birthday gifts. While you do know my pain of losing a parent – and I appreciate your attempt to sympathize with that – you will never comprehend the type of pain I am in.

4. Simply be there for us.
I have to say that I never would have survived the aftermath of my mother’s passing if it wasn’t for those who were simply just there. If I wanted to cry, they had a shoulder. If I wanted to scream, they had an ear. If I wanted to drink, they had a flask of whiskey. If I wanted to talk, they had a voice. If I needed to laugh, they had an arsenal of internet memes saved in their phone. Whatever I needed, they were there with it. No more, no less. When I was hurting I really just needed you to BE THERE for me in whatever capacity you could. It may not seem like a lot, but it was plenty.

5. Be careful which clichéd sympathetic phrases you tell us.
While I do appreciate that these are things you say to people who have lost a loved one, they sometimes can do more harm than good.

“God only gives you as much as you can handle.”
“She is always with you.”
“Everything happens for a reason”

That is the main trifecta that would send me in to a blind rage. “Well, God’s an asshole, no she’s NOT, and what goddamn reason?!” is all I want to scream back. Sometimes, a simple “I am so sorry, and I am here for you,” is all I needed to hear. Please keep the Hallmark sympathies to a minimum.

With Mother’s Day being this past weekend and the six-month mark approaching fast, my heart is heavier than it has been in recent months. I want you all to be thankful for whatever mother figure you have in your life – not matter how batshit crazy she might be. Someday, you’ll miss those neurotic fights and arguments.
And when that day comes? I am here for you. In whatever way you need me to be.

GTL (Fo real, yo.) February 1, 2012

Posted by jeneypeney in Uncategorized.
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As roughly 99.9% of the US population does every December 31st around 11:45pm – the Actual and I pledged to be healthier and lose weight. Our goal was to look and feel awesome by the completely arbitrary and not-important-at-all date of June 23rd.*

I am happy to report we’ve done a pretty good job of it so far. Of course, we’ve fought some pretty fierce battles along the way…

Grilled Salmon, Salad, and Steamed Veggies versus the 20 oz. Prime Rib, Loaded Baked Potato, and Baked Beans was a particularly gnarly one to fight. I have to say after a long stare down and some pretty vulgar trash talk, fish and rabbit food won out.

The Couch and 42″ Flat Screen have been pretty persistent in conjunction with XBOX 360 and Direct TV as they all fight against the treadmills, bikes, and weights at the Gym. I will admit having Little Shit living with us now is a good deterrent for giving in to former of the contestants.

While my body will occasionally plead with me to stop and has an arsenal of white flags ready to go at any moment, my mind is not backing off. One huge reason for this has certainly been the addition of an absurdly difficult, insane, and possibly harmful obstacle race** to my wedding celebration festivities. I mean, if I don’t want to die before I walk down the aisle, I really need to get my ass in gear. (By the way, have you donated to the cause yet??)

However… there are a few things I would like to inquire about some of the things I see when I work out at my gym. While we do not have any guidos or guidettes who frequent our place of exercise delight, I have witnessed many a folk who make me feel like posting this next to their machines:

ImageFor those of you who also work out at fitness centers or gyms, please let me know if these are nation-wide phemons or if Fargo is just really effin’ weird.

Women who work out with their hair down. And I’m not talking cute little hair styles that are impossible to actually put in a pony tail. I’m talking legitimate long hair that comes down to at least their shoulders. My hair is always secured in a braid, pony tail, or bun at all times when I work out and I STILL want to chop it all off. How can these women stand to have all their locks just whipping around nilly-willy like?

Men who wear beanie caps while lifting. Seriously guys, what the hell? Does it really serve a purpose? You’re not even wearing it correctly – it seems to be more propped on your skull like some kind of ill- fitting condom. Don’t tell me it’s a fashion thing because I will take that 60 pound weight you’ve been struggling to lift for the past 30 minutes and throw it at your face***

Rat Tails. Are these coming back in style? Did I miss something? What the hell is going on?

The locker room always smells like bubble gum. I am not complaining, it’s obviously better than anything else the locker room could smell like… but it’s just perplexes me. Why bubble gum? Why not mountain fresh or baby powder? Does the men’s locker room also smell like children’s candies? Do they get a tootsie roll scent? I want to know!!

I honestly hope someone can shed some light on these things… otherwise they will continue to plague my thoughts and I might end up ass over elbows on a treadmill because I forgot how to put one foot in front of the other because a horde of beanie cap donning guys walk up to the free weights and overload my brain.

Ok, that was a lie… It was a bunch of women on treadmills with their hair down.

Happy Hump Day everyone!!

* If you have to ask, you don’t deserve to know.

** Actual statement regarding the race made by my MOH’s mother: “As maid of honor you are supposed to watch out for her….not electrocute her!”

*** In reality, I will probably make The Actual throw the weight at you. I can’t lift it either.