TWLC3 Week 11

So much has happened in the past week! I started Whole30, gave up about 36 hours later, and am now putting my weight loss efforts on hold until I get through school. I thought I had worked everything out with my advisor, outlining exactly what I was going to do in order to graduate and receiving written confirmation via email that if I went ahead and did exactly those things I could walk in August. When I sat down and talked to her in person however, I was informed that my full schedule of 9 credits wouldn’t be enough and that I’d need to add on an elective course to graduate as planned. The only option that feels acceptable to me is adding on another class this term (versus doing another online class after we move to SF), which I can’t do unless I’m granted an exemption to university policy (as I was informed by several people, taking 12 credits in a term is insane and the policy is in place to protect students from failing miserably). I wrote out a heartfelt and heavy-handed petition telling my story, received a strong recommendation from the advisor, and found a professor willing to let me in to his class late. Today at 4:00 pm I’ll walk over to the registrar’s office and hopefully find out that my petition has been granted. With no family in the area, no job, and my advanced age (for an undergrad) I feel pretty good about my chances.

Because of all of this I’m giving myself a break from as many extraneous responsibilities as possible. Of course I want to feel healthy (I’m going to need the energy for all of those late nights I’m going to have writing papers!), but I need to feel like it’s okay to buy a granola bar and container of milk out of the vending machine on days when I’ve been in the library for 12 hours straight and my packed lunch is depleted. I’m still going to train 3x/week with my personal trainer friend, and I’d like to keep running 2x/week after my half-marathon is over. Hopefully my weight will hold steady over the next 6 weeks, although I acknowledge that late night ice cream runs on the nights before exams are likely and will have some negative consequences.

I have my whole life to lose weight. This chance to finish school in person, sitting in classrooms discussing what we’ve read and what it means, isn’t going to come again for me. I want to give as much of myself to the experience as I can mentally handle.

I’m going to put these posts on hold for the summer. I’ll keep participating in the TWLC Facebook group and I plan to keep up with the Google Doc, awarding the monthly participation prizes as originally planned. The money the entrants pledged is sitting safely in my Paypal account, and no matter what happens with me there will be some happy (and slim and strong) winners when this is all over.

Time to dash to class. Thanks so much for the support that’s been sent my way thus far.

45 thoughts on “TWLC3 Week 11

  1. This sounds like such a well thought out decision and a great choice for you in the long run. Way to step back and look at the big picture!

  2. Sound smart, Jenna. You need to do what’s right for you and your body and your mental health! This just brings into perspective that you have truly chosen a lifestyle change instead of focusing on dieting, which can be much more restrictive. I’m rootin’ for you on every angle.

  3. That’s supposed to say ‘sounds smart’, as a compliment. not, ‘sound smart’, as a directive. ::blushing::

  4. I think you made a great choice. You’ve come so far and grown so much; there’s no way you’ll throw it all away. It will all be waiting for you at the end of summer. It’s one (crazy & chaotic) semester of your life and you’ll be SO glad and feel so accomplished when you’re done!

  5. I’m sorry but this just reads as “excuses excuses excuses.” It’s okay if you don’t want to lose weight, but don’t blame being busy. If this were truly your lifestyle (as it would need to be if you want to sustain long term) then you could maintain regardless of your schedule/location/situation. This just reinforces the binge/purge (not literally of course) cycle you have built over the past few years. Plenty of people can work out and eat well AND be busy. You just haven’t prioritized it. That is totally fine, but I think you should own that decision.

    Hannah Reply:

    I think this is incredibly unfair. Jenna has just said she’s going to do her best and not beat herself up if she eats granola instead of healthy snacks when time runs low. She doesn’t plan to eat chips all the ling long day or sit around all day. She still plans to exercise – she’s just not putting pressure on herself on top of all the other pressure she’s got going on. By writing this post she is owning her decision to prioritise school over weight loss.

    If you want to be critical at least have the guts to not be anonymous while you do it. Ugh.

    S. Reply:

    I just typed a whole long response and my internet froze right in the middle. Ugh.


    1) Not everyone likes their name (or photo, or family info) broadcast on the internet. I’m a direct person. I would say the same thing to Jenna in person: stop making excuses. this is a lifestyle, not a sprint.

    2) Jenna said she wasn’t going to focus on losing weight. Perhaps you assumed this means something different than I did, but I assume this means Jenna will do a lot of what she did when she was in WA, or getting ready to move, or traveling. Eat a lot more than normal, justify it because she deserves it or is busy. This is not sustainable because life is busy and you deserve to be happy. If she is unhappy overweight, then she should lose weight. If she is happy where she is, then she should own it. She looks great.

    3) Finally, Jenna has preached it here: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. It is not hard to do this, even when you are busy. It’s about priorities.

    Kristin Reply:

    I don’t know if you have been to BYU, but it is pretty darn hard to “eat food, not too much, and MOSTLY PLANTS” when on campus. If you find a salad it is laden with junk, and during summer/spring terms the on-campus dining closes a lot earlier than normal, leaving anyone on campus, especially on the weekends, without healthy options. You are a slave of the vending machine if the food you bring from home runs out. As someone who did grad school there (ie LONG hours on campus like 14-16 hour days) you can’t ever pack that much salad with you. Cut her some slack!

  6. I think it’s ok to make exceptions when as you say you run out of healthy items after long hours spend in class. But also remember how you feel when you eat crappy. I’ve heard you mention that before.
    I think you can find a balance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and yet making compromises where needed. I think eating well will help you have the energy you need to get through classes as well. So don’t starve yourself but eat healthy and thumbs up for continuing the exercise.

  7. Who is telling you that 12 credits is too much? If school is the only thing you’ve got going on, just set your mind to it and get it done. As you say, school is temporary. You can liken it to half-marathon training. Those 12-mile runs fell like they will never end, but they do, and so will school.

    Stephanie C Reply:

    I’m going to jump in here. It’s been my experience that summer sessions are much shorter and compacted than regular spring/fall terms, so that is probably why it’s discouraged.

    Emily Reply:

    That is true, and has also been my experience, but most institutions also discourage taking more than 18-20 credits during a regular session and plenty of people take more than that. IMHO, if you’re not working (“working” includes being a mom, to me), you should be taking more credits. If you (Jenna!) are going to be taking care of T1, and your business, and trying to balance a more-than-full academic load, then I would go for the lower course load and just take your time!

    Jackie Reply:

    Every school is different. At mine, more than 15 was considered pretty insane. Where I went to grad school (which definitely wasn’t as high quality as my undergrad), 18 was normal. Can’t really compare course loads at schools.

  8. You can *definitely* do 12 credits! I did 17 credits while working 25 hours a week. And lots of people have done much more than that. You can do it, Jenna! 🙂

  9. I agree with the “excuses” comment above. If losing weight and being healthy are important to you, you find time or a way to do it. I think trying to completely overturn your diet and start something new that is unrealistically extreme (whole 30) in the midst of all the other changes you’ve made is setting yourself up for failure.
    You’ve talked about counting calories in the past and were all gung ho for that a few years ago, so why not do that again? I’ve been losing 8-10 lbs a month for the last 6 months by using myfitnesspal and it’s really pretty easy if you’re consistent with it. You have an iPhone, you can log food quickly and easily.
    If you keep waiting for the perfect opportunity to lose weight, you’ll be waiting forever and wishing you’d started sooner because you could have been at your goal weight by now…

  10. You have a great outlook on this! You can’t do everything, all the time. It’s definitely important to know when it’s a “healthy maintenance” time and then when you can kick things into high gear after your school craziness is done and another goal has been achieved! Best of luck. I know you will excel in all this over the summer — school and remaining healthy during a stressful, busy time!

  11. I’m confused. Why is 12 credits considered a lot and usually not allowed? Are students required to take 5 years to graduate?

    If a student “only” takes 3 classes that are 5 credits each, that’s 15 credits. I took between 12-18 credits every quarter. I’m confused by your school’s policies

    Hilary Reply:

    I am assuming its because this is summer school? When I took summer school in college, I think 9 was the max too. It depends on if the school is on quarters, semesters or a summer schedule.

    My school had three (i think) summer school sessions, 6 or 4 weeks each, and you could only take so many classes each session. My thought upon reading this post was that BYU was the same, hence the restrictions. You can only do so much when you are cramming a semester course into 6 weeks!

    Turtle Reply:

    I think it’s because a “term” is not the same as a semester. The summer “term” is shorter and so classes are condensed into a shorter time frame– so a full load in the summer term would be considered 2-3 classes.

    Jenna Reply:

    Yes this is a term (6 weeks) not a semester (12 weeks). So if they accept my petition I will be taking the equivalent of 24 credits in a single semester.

  12. WOW. I cannot believe commenters are saying TW is using her currebt situation as an excuse that she ahould just own up. Although I understand where the commenters are coming from it’s just that it seems harsh saying it in that way because I wouldn’t!

    Look I had been a professional student for YEARS! Taking more than 12 Units in a 6 week summer sessiin is brutal. I was a different major than TW (Bachelors of Science & Masters of Science from UCLA). But no matter the degree or college- it’s Hard work! I remember being so engrossed in my studies (on the quarter system: fall/winter/spring/summer) forgetting to eat and the hours escaping me as I tried to meet deadlines.

    For some people, balancing it all- diet, exercise, rest, family/significant others & children it comes easily. It was not easy for me. That’s why I completed my studies before I had kids because I knew I couldnt focus with a kid. So friggin KUDOS and rockstar standing “O” (ovation) to TW!

    This brutal scheile she has herself on to complete her personal goal is only for the summer. Lifestyle long term goals still have apace in her life she just is cutting herself aome slack and I applaud her for putting on her plate (excuse the pun) realistic acheivable goals that she can stomach.

    My only suggestion which I am sure TW knows & will attempt to do is to obtain healthy to go snacks! Instead of saying “these are excuses..” can’t people/commenters be more encouraging an say “hey, i have been where you are at here are some go to healthy snacks that helped me when I was in the throes of my studies…” sheesh. And whether or not she takes the constructive feedback/suggestions is up to her.

    My go to healthy snacks during grad school included:
    Nuts, raisins, dried fruits, bell peppers dipped in hummus, cut fresh fruits like strawberries/blueberrys (&pomegrante seeds in tupperware). I love non fat yogurts with fruit fixings (cuties or granola), vegetarian dishes like to go thai foods. I ate sandwhich wraps or lettuce wrapped type meals with quinoa. I ALWAYS carried water on me. And I always tried tofit in a fruit smoothie. Exercise was hard for me tofit in during my studies because I always felt so drained already trying to get in the timely work and projects done. My super secret selfish meal indulgences were take out taco bell (ugh), bagels with tons of cream cheese, coffee (but i switched to black tea with chai vanilla mixed in- and then REALLY cut out caffeine and got Rooibos tea mixed w/honey & goat milk!!! My study partners worshipped the ground i walked on when I brewed that!)

    Salads were a must in my diet. My hubby packs raw veggies to munch on always. Raw cherry tomatoes, grapes, cucumber, baby carrots….
    I sure you have plenty of indulgences as most people- just treat yourself & be good to yourself. High five, you can do this. It’ll all pay off.

    S. Reply:

    I see your point, but Jenna explicitly said she has her whole life to lose weight (not true – a healthy life starts today) and that she should have full reason to get ice cream at midnight (plenty of people are busy without eating crap at midnight, or let themselves indulge in positive, non bingey ways, like a nice dessert over conversation with friends). The tone of the post was giving herself permission to let it all go, which I think is counter productive to Jenna’s long term goals. That’s all.

    Katherine Reply:

    Agreed. My point was that she doesn’t have to take such an extreme course of action (i.e. whole30, weighing cheese, etc.) to have weight loss success if that’s what she wants. I think she looks fine but if it is such a priority to her, which I would assume it is since this is her third weight loss challenge she’s held, there are plenty of more moderate ways to do it that would set her up for a longer term success. I personally won’t do anything to lose weight that I don’t want to do long term. I’ve been having great success just by reigning in portion sizes and filling in with vegetables. It’s not that difficult, you just have to do it. If Jenna doesn’ t want to make it a priority right now, that’ s her perogitive but I have a very busy life as well and could continually find an excuse to push it off (and I did for a long time). As adults, ultimately we are in control of what we eat, no one else is.

    Megan Reply:

    So true.

    Andrea Ferree Reply:

    So silly! Eating ice cream happens. Are you guys perfect?

    Katherine Reply:

    I never said anything about not eating ice cream or dessert or anything like that. I personally eat sweets and have been steadily losing weight at the same time. It’s about balance and keeping it at a reasonable level in conjunction with your activity level too. I’m not claiming to be any expert on weight loss or nutrition, I’m just saying that it’s possible to lose weight, if that is something you want to achieve, without it being your sole focus in life. It requires a lifestyle change if it’s something you’re going to be able to stick with and maintain.

    Katie Reply:

    Cripes, people (and this is not just directed at you) LAY OFF. Jenna’s clearly made that lifestyle change over the past couple of years. Have you not seen her food log? I really doubt she’s going straight to McDonald’s and then get some Ben and Jerry’s.

    None of you are legitimately concerned, you’re just concern trolling. If you were actually worried about her, you’d either sound nicer, or send an e-mail.

    I think Jenna understands it’s possible to lose weight, since that’s what she’s been working on since T1 was born.

    Katherine Reply:

    I wouldn’t say she’s “clearly made the lifestyle change” if it’s not working for her. She said she wanted to put her weight loss efforts on hold (which is fine) but my point was that if she took a less extreme approach to the changes she wants to make, she could still make progress without it being such a monumental task. Jenna has praised calorie counting in the past, and had success with it, so why not use the approach that you know works for now and ease into a more healthful (whole30, etc) type of eating as you have time and/or the desire?
    With technology the way it is these days, counting calories is simple and effective. You can even just scan bar-codes on items that have them and it’s all done for you…

    Katie Reply:

    I think you’ve said your piece. I don’t think Jenna is unaware of this. Now leave it to her to live her life.

    Plus, if it’s that easy, why do so many people struggle with it? I think we ALL let certain things slide when we have a lot going on.

    Katie Reply:

    One more thing: YES, she has made a lifestyle change. Buying local, organic, whole foods… she can’t be on a diet to lose weight for the rest of her life! It looks as though she plans on eating in moderation with some treats thrown in. BE NICE.

    Stefanie Reply:

    I don’t know why I’m getting involved, but I just wanted to point out that Katherine was being nice. If you read her original comment, she was supporting and defending Jenna, as well as offering her own personal experience in a similar situation. I don’t understand why this has become such a hot button issue for people, to the point where nobody even knows who is being attacked or doing the attacking anymore.

    I think Jenna has been very open about her weight loss journey and has created a space for open discussion about it.

  13. I am so happy you aren’t beating yourself up like I did abut Whole30! I still get email alerts saying what say I would be on and it’s always kind of a bummer. (Why don’t I go back and erase those reminders? I’d have to do them all individually and it’s almost over anyway.)

    On the red tape universities put students through, boo all that business. My university has always given me different answers to questions depending on who I ask and I am supposed to graduate in December. I’ve had my “senior checks” where they make sure all is well for graduation and I have gotten surprises both times. I feel like I can’t possibly be able to graduate.. something has to go wrong.

    To conclude: Come on universe! Just let us graduate!

  14. Good for you, Jenna. I disagree with people saying you’re using college as an excuse. If you were doing that then I think you’d just have let it all go without making a post about it. Instead, you addressed your decision and this is in and of itself taking responsibility for your decision.

    Also, people forget that summer semesters are short and two subjects can feel like four or six because of how condensed they are.

  15. You know what, Jenna, I totally support your decision and having followed you since wedding bee am extremely proud of you for graduating. You gotta do what you gotta do.

    I think its ridiculous that first people rag on you for not finishing your degree abd then when you do they find something else to rag on.

  16. Wow. Jenna, you do you, and ignore those naysayers. Good luck – summer courses can be brutal but I’m sure you’ll make it through!

  17. I totally get it, having spent the last month living at my mother’s house while negotiating a home sale from hell (foreclosure we are buying), working full time, caring for our 6 month old, with a husband studying 11+ hours a day for the medical boards. Sometimes somethings gotta give.

    Crystal Reply:

    But you had a kid and husband to deal with. Jenna is all alone. I’ve done the crazy term/semester in college and if you’re alone it’s not that much harder to grab apples and string cheese at the store instead of Twinkies. Eating noncrap food actually makes all the stress easier to handle b/c you don’t feel like a bloated greasebag.

  18. You know, research shows that we only have a certain amount of willpower. It’s not an unlimited resource that you can summon by just “toughing it out”; it’s more like gasoline in a car: you can use it for whatever you want, but once it’s gone, you need to fill up before you can go further.

    Sadly for dieters, willpower is largely generated through glucose (so the best way to give yourself a boost to keep doing something requiring self-control is to eat sugar). I wrote about that here:, which has links if you are interested.

    So if you’re trying to do something very difficult (like becoming a more-than-full-time student when you’re far away from your family and have been out of school for a long time), you literally do not have the ability to do something else very difficult (lose a significant amount of weight). Don’t listen to S. and others offering similar advice. You are doing the right thing.

    David Reply:

    That’s silly. People can do two difficult things at once; how do you think we survived to this point in our history?

    In fact, sticking to a healthy and well-balanced diet is actually good for your ability to learn, to study and to achieve success.

    This kind of quasi “I’ve read Wikipedia” scientific thought about a finite amount of willpower is an excuse. Yes, people need glucose, but you can get it and lose weight at the same time. I work a full-time job, do a master’s part time, was at my friend’s bedside through a bone marrow transplant and still managed to stay fit.

    Your point about gasoline is a good one; if you set a limit of no less than 1/4 tank before you leave the house, you miss out on 1/4 of the potential in your tank. Artificially setting a limit to what you can do BEFORE YOU EVEN DO IT is not running your tank to empty, it’s giving up before you even started.

    Grace Reply:

    You can do multiple difficult things at once, but you can’t do everything. I am sure you had to give up some things in order to accomplish what you did. For example, a lot depends on the difficulty of your master’s program, the demandingness of your job, etc. I think it’s unwise and unkind to make statements about what other people should be able to do, because you don’t know their circumstances (for instance, “full-time” might mean 40 hours or 80 hours/week, depending on the job).

    Successful people automate as many of their tasks as possible, because once you are just following a routine (It’s 7 am=go for a run), it doesn’t require much willpower any more. This is why starting something new (say, a completely different way of eating) is so much more difficult than just maintaining what you are already doing. So if you are starting one new routine (like being a student with more than a full-time load), it’s a bad time to try to start another at the same time.

    I am not sure why you object to this: it seems like common sense to me.

    Jackie Reply:

    Agree. I’ve read about that before. And for some people, certain things are easier to resist than others. Jenna’s not gonna go binge on coffee and alcohol like many students, and you don’t see her saying “oh it’s just so hard not to drink when I’m stressed!” Other people would be like, “yeah, I get that. I lived on coffee during my PhD!” For Jenna, resisting ice cream might be like me resisting a beer after my seminar class my first year of my MA. Just not worth the added stress.

    But I agree with S. in that the best way to promote healthy changes is to rag on someone you don’t know on the internet. We learned about it in my public health classes. Except not.

    Alisha Reply:

    “But I agree with S. in that the best way to promote healthy changes is to rag on someone you don’t know on the internet. We learned about it in my public health classes. Except not.”

    best thing i’ve read all day. thanks for the laugh 🙂

  19. You are a star! I think it’s so inspiring that you are putting everything into finishing school. Totally sensible to take some time off from the aggressive dieting.

    If you ever need any paper-editing help, I have years of experience with editing papers (on law, political science, literature, history, philosophy, etc. liberal arts topics!) and would be more than happy to edit anything you need help with!

    Good luck sister!

  20. Man, you really can’t win. Before, you got flack for not finishing school. Now you’re making that a priority, and getting crap despite the fact that you’re trying to work out five times a week, and allowing yourself to get milk and granola bars from a vending machine and an occasional ice cream (not intravenous lard people, CALM DOWN!.

    🙁 It sounds like you made the right decision for yourself. We aren’t superhuman. Enjoy your classes!

  21. I think when you are at a place where you can do the Whole 30 you’ll notice some amazing changes in your body and how you feel. I’m currently on day 27 along with my fiance and we’re now total believers that the program works. We’ve not cheated with food but we have weighed ourselves and the results are amazing. I’ve lost 13 pounds and have never gone hungry. On the contrary we’re eating better than ever before. We eat good meats, fruits,veggies and nuts.

    Also, you’re making the best decisions for yourself right now and I would try not to take to heart all the negative feedback. Nobody is perfect and trust me the Whole 30 has taught me a level of will power I’ve never had before. I always started diets and quit after a day or two. We’re also trying to get in wedding shape so that puts some pressure on. Good luck!!

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