Jenna Kirchner-Jacobs is a wife of 9 years, a busy stay-at-home mom of three young girls, and a great example of a woman who has struck that balance between kids, home and graduate school, and makes her active lifestyle a priority.
As a busy mom, she is highly involved and hands on with her kids’ activities and is also the primary caregiver to her child with special needs, which means trips to therapy and doctor appointments. She volunteers as a girl scout leader and as a hospice worker, caring for those in their last days or hours of life. Jenna is also in grad school working towards her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. She enjoys working out, being outdoors, glamping, antiquing, cooking, and has recently discovered a love for running.
Q. What has your journey to living an active life been like?
A. I began getting serious about a consistent active lifestyle in 2012 after I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter. I was 115 lbs overweight and was not healthy. I wanted to change for me, but also for my soon-to-be family. At first, my focus was on losing weight (I have lost just over 80 lbs), but after a couple of years, my focus shifted towards primarily fitness and being confident in my abilities and strength, regardless of my size. I got to a point where I knew I couldn’t go back to how I was, and that has been my main motivation to the daily exercise and fitness routine. It really is something that I now crave and need to feel my best.
Q. You say you recently found a new love/respect for running. How has this impacted your fitness journey?
A. To think about how far my fitness has come almost brings me to tears. There was a time where I could hardly get through a short walk without breathing heavy and having body aches. I recently finished running a half marathon, 5k and 2.5k that were set as back to back races. This year I will complete six organized runs. Running has never been something I thought I would be doing, but I really want to keep things fresh and give myself a challenge to work towards. It makes things fun! Now, even when a workout is hard, I can push through because I know I CAN do it and I know it is making me better!
Q. How do you fit exercise into your busy schedule?
A. Honestly, being a mom keeps me plenty active. But for my workouts, I shift my time around my family. Some days it works better for me to workout when my youngest daughter naps, sometimes it’s a good day and I get a workout in while my kids play or are focused on other activities, and sometimes I workout when my hubby puts the girls to sleep. I get my runs in after kids’ bedtime and get up early Saturday mornings for longer runs. However my day ends up, there is never a good enough reason not to workout. I just get it done.
BeachBody workout programs are my go-to because I can do them at home in the short moments I have that are less chaotic. I am currently doing 80 Day Obsession (45min-1hr) workouts 5-6 days a week and focus on weightlifting and core strengthening along with a little HIIT. Two days a week I also run with a neighbor friend of mine.
Q. What is your biggest motivation for maintaining an active lifestyle?
A. My biggest motivation now is not EVER going back to where I was. I am always looking for ways to better myself and do better in every aspect of my life. Another biggie is modeling positive body image and healthy habits to my three girls. I never speak negatively about my body or my girls bodies and we address healthy vs. unhealthy on a regular basis. Not in terms of weight -- but in terms of health, longevity and having better energy.
Q. What's one myth you'd like to see busted about plus-size women?
A. That fit means thin. You definitely can be fit at any size, and I am proof of that.
Q. We sent you some JunoActive samples to try -- what did you think?
A. When looking for fitness wear, I prefer finding lighter clothing that wicks as well as ones that fit my curves and hold me in. JunoActive gear met both of those. The thicker material on the pants was at first deceiving, but after wearing them for a HIIT workout, I quickly realized their cooling capabilities. I also appreciated the sweatpant style waistband, something not many brands offer in fitness gear. The bra worked well. I like how high it comes on the chest line and under the armpit. Perfect for keeping my "ladies" in place. Overall, this activewear was comfortable and assisted me well in my workout.
Q. What's your advice for other women who might find it difficult to find time to stay active?
A. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. You will make time for what is most important to you. Find time for yourself, even if it’s just 30 minutes and you need to stay up a little later or get up a little earlier. You are WORTH IT!
And you will start to see almost every other area of your life changing for the positive once you find the time and create the habit.
Thanks, Jenna! We're so inspired!
Our #ThisIsActive Q+As are part of an ongoing series to show how plus-size women live their active lives. Share your active life with us on social media by using #ThisIsActive on Instagram or send your story to social @ junoactive.com for a chance to be featured.