the “abs situation”

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As we head into the summer, a conversation with a friend reminded me of this post from 2012. It’s a nice reminder – and a good laugh. Enjoy!

Okay. Remember this photo?

It’s caused a few waves and I want to do a little follow up. I’ve recently realized through reading and some offhand comments by friends that a few people have been impressed/surprised/envious of my abs.

And after a recent (very kind) post about them, I wanted to share my comment in response.

I hope it is helpful for others as well.

First of all, I will say that though I’m flattered that you like my abs, there are several things you should know about me and that photo before you berate yourself or set yourself up to look like “me” or any other ideal of yourself that you have in your head.


1. While I do have a strong core, I think it comes because I carry most of my weight in my butt. There is a reason you don’t see that in the photo! Lol.


2. It’s not that I’m some super human eating well; I eat burgers, craft beer, and all the rest as frequently as I like, I just don’t overeat (which I used to do). In fact, please go read these two posts:

My Struggle with Weight Part One

My Struggle with Weight Part Two


3. That is simply a good picture, taken in some mystical shade that highlighted my abs. I didn’t edit the photo to make myself look any different, but that shade definitely ended up making my abs look very defined. There are many other pictures we took in different lighting or times of day and they didn’t look that noticeable.


4. Though I used to run marathons and I still run and workout, I don’t do anything crazy. Right now I try to work out 3-4 days a week and I do some light lifting and 30 minutes of elliptical due to the weather outside being cold. But I don’t put any huge focus on my abs, that is just a perk of my body (perhaps to balance out the cellulite on my butt?).



I hope this helps and takes your mind off of too much criticism of your own body.

I’ve fought with my body for nine years of my life and I want nothing more than to help others to find a place of peace with their own bodies.

Because not only is it more peaceful, real, and positive, it also gave me the body you see. I spent years struggling to “lose weight.”

Then, after a lot of prayer, work, and dedication to not obsessing, I actually lost most of the weight I tried to lose for so long.

I love you.

And because I love you all as well, I’m going to share a not-so-ideal photo of me from the exact same trip, that for obvious (vain) reasons didn’t make the blog.

I laugh just looking at it.

No makeup.

No smile.

No mystical shade highlighting my abs.

No flattering angle.

Though both images are me, one just looks better.

And the problem is if we all think that everyone looks like their best picture we see online, it’s easy to think we don’t measure up.

The truth is everyone is just trying to accept themselves – flaws and all.


May something wonderful happen to you today,


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  1. Cassie

    I love everything about this post EXCEPT for the part where you put yourself down (re: your butt) to make someone else feel better. I totally get it and have done that myself, but I think it’s important to check ourselves when we deflect compliments by referring to the things we’re insecure about. Just food for thought. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your point, Cassie. I appreciate it!

      I did mention that I carry my weight in my butt and that I have cellulite (because I do). Each of those isn’t necessarily a “put down,” I am stating that my body simply *is* that way. I wanted to relate to the person and I shared honestly and openly.

      1. Oh Jess, what a great example you are to all of us. Careful though. Letting your emotions be felt. And always, always communicating with love.

      2. Cassie

        Thanks for your incredibly thoughtful response, Jess. And I am so sorry my original comment caused you to feel any guilt whatsoever—that was certainly not at all my intention. (I’m embarrassed to think it might’ve come off that way!)

        I guess I was coming from a place where I’m constantly seeing women put themselves down to make others feel better and stave off jealousy, and only in recent years have I realized I don’t need to do that to build others up. With that new, empowering realization, I’ve become a bit hyper-aware of that, or anything resembling it. But I shudder to think my comment might have me resembling the type who yells “bad feminist!” at anyone in a vulnerable moment with the best of intentions. That helps no one.

        Because you’re right—we ALL have insecurities, and to share that with one another is a good, positive thing. And I’m glad you have here. xo

        1. Thank you, Cassie. I really, really appreciate this. : )

          I think I did feel a little bit like a ‘bad feminist’ as you put it so well, and in such a vulnerable place already with the post, it kinda hit me quicker to the core.

          At the same time, I can totally see how you were trying to help with the realizations you’ve shared.

          Thank you!

  2. Jess

    Haha I love this, Jess! Even in your “not so ideal” photo you look STILL adorable (in a totally human way) and I think we all love that about you. Keep up the great work 🙂

  3. I love that you did this post! And let’s be honest, everybody (well I’m assuming most) have at least one somewhat negative thing to say about their body! It’s all about loving what you have and making the best out of it!

    1. Thanks so much, Angela. I appreciate your support and agree. : )

      Hug from across the screen!

    2. Ffion

      I don’t :-* I love my body. But agreed, awesome post! Everything is glossy and glamorous online, there’s so little reality or at least the messy bits are getting missed out so it’s easy to believe we’re not measuring up 🙂

      1. Yes! As long as we keep this in mind, that reality is not always matching the beauty we share online, then we don’t have to compare ourselves.

        But sometimes it can be easier said than done. : )

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this today! It’s so refreshing + brave! As a woman who hasn’t worn a bathing suit in public for more years than I would like to admit, the bravery it takes to show BOTH photos is incredible. Lighting or not, you are fabulous inside + out.

    I totally relate to the body proportions too. While I am someone who never really gets a pudgy stomach unless I gain a good amount of weight, I carry it all in my booty and thighs. Happy the universe blessed me that way though… + I’ve been reading a lot of blogs that talk about how booties are “in”. lol

    1. Thanks, Kimberly! I appreciate it. I will say, it was a bit scary putting this post up both times – in 2012 and even yesterday.

      I’m happy to hear that the blogs are saying booties are in. Lol! I missed that message, but am happy it’s “trending.” : )

  5. Thanks for sharing, Shayna. Though it sounds like you’d wish those other things are different, I bet there are a lot of people out there that appreciate your qualities – body and beyond! : )

    The grass always seems a little greener, doesn’t it?

    1. yes! I’m actually really secure with every other part of my body. No one’s perfect, I know. It’s taken me 35 years to feel comfortable with body, even when I feel like an old lady 🙂

      1. I know, right?! Just wait till we really are ‘little old ladies’ and we’ll wish we didn’t fret about our stomachs or butts “way back when.”

  6. designmedaily

    Great post! You look great in both pics, but props to you for posting a photo of yourself that you don’t love. We need more blogs and articles about self-love and love for women in general. Cheers!

  7. Lauren

    So love this post! I’ve learned that most women have some body image concerns at some point in their lives. I know that I’ve gained ~10 lbs since two years ago when training for a marathon, but I also know that I’m much happier running by feel (and feeling good about it!) and doing more yoga than being competitive and pushing myself too hard.

    1. That is wonderful to hear, Lauren. I’ve gone through a similar journey with running in particular, too. : )

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Victoria! That means a lot coming from you. Have a great weekend! : )

  8. I adore this post and your honesty! You look great in both photos. We often get carried away trying to meet some nice photographic ideal when in fact there is often magical lighting (and most of the time, magazine airbrushing), so you “exposing” the truth is appreciated.

      1. Thanks, Sam! I’m not trying to say that I’m not grateful for my body in either photo. And my body is still the same body in both pics. The second photo was shared simply to contrast what an “excellent” photo can look like compared to the ones we’ve all taken on vacation that don’t look so pretty – the ones without the makeup, smile, flattering angle, etc.

        We don’t often see those photos online and for that reason, I wanted to share. : )

    1. Thank you for the love, Jennifer!

      A handful of people have mentioned how ‘great’ I look in the photo, which is so kind – but the point of sharing the photo wasn’t to say that I looked ‘fat’ or ‘bad’ in the second pic.

      It’s that the second photo doesn’t have the makeup, lighting, angle, smile, etc. that made the first one look so much “better.” It’s the one that we all have taken from time to time, but don’t often share online. : )

      1. I hear you, Jess! It’d be pretty funny if we all started posting “those” photos instead of the better ones 😉

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