SoulShine Life Stories featuring Jenny Whitens: Helping Busy Moms Get Healthy, Happy and Shed the Shame
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Jenny Whitens, founder of Jen Whitens Wellness, LLC, and her signature program Wholly Fit, appears to have it all. Spend a few minutes with Jenny and she will tell you to look deeper than the highlight reel. The outdated view that women need to have it together all the time and that they should have to put themselves last after caring for others is a myth that Jenny would like to bust. She is inspired to help women care for themselves while balancing other obilgations and the needs of their families.
Jenny has spent years studying mindset, nutrition, and physical fitness. Her mission in her business is to help busy women shed shame and guilt when it comes to self care. She helps them to build their confidence so they can live happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives. This teacher turned coach teaches and trains from her own experience and journey. This real life experience paired with guidance from experts in the field whom she has studied under helps her relate to her client’s journeys. Jenny is an awesome example of living a life of purpose and demonstrating that the key to getting there is believing in yourself and taking a leap of faith that the path will unfold.
Like the clients she coaches, Jenny wears many hats. Besides running her own business, which is no small feat in itself, she is married to her husband, Andy, and they have two awesome and active kiddos, Brennan, age 11, and Nadia, age 6.
Jenny started her journey to where she is now as a middle school science and math teacher. She always felt disconnected with teaching, and the teaching environment took a toll on her. She felt it stifled her creativity with too many systems and rules controlling her ability to express her own teaching style, She started to realize that her passion just wasn’t there. What she enjoyed about being a teacher was the actual teaching and helping her students improve, but just not in school system structure. In retrospect, Jenny fell back on teaching because it was a comfortable and safe choice.
You may have heard this before or experienced it yourself, that everything changes after you have kids. This is what Jenny experienced after becoming a mom, especially after her daughter was born. Her disconnection with teaching became more evident. She was good at what she did but her heart wasn’t in it, and she knew there were people out there that would love the job she had and be more passionate about it. This lead to her feeling guilty that she was taking this position from someone who would really want it and that she wasn’t pouring into her student’s the way someone else might. The final straw was the awakening that she knew more about her student's lives than her own children's lives.
Jenny’s upbringing had taught her that you should remain tough and get through these things, rather than look into what might really fuel your soul and passion. Plus, teaching was an “acceptable” position rather than thinking outside the box. The truth was, teaching in the traditional education system wasn’t for her; and, as Jenny reflects, it’s easy to get burned out when you aren’t doing something that is in alignment with who you are. Jenny realized that what she wanted to do was teach, train, coach, and help people get better but not in the traditional education environment.
Jenny realized she needed to find something different and new. An opportunity to join a direct sales company with a health and wellness focus presented itself. This seemed a great opportunity to try something new that was low risk, could go alongside her teaching career, and started linking health, wellness, and coaching people.
Jenny learned many valuable lessons during this period including that she loved having a team as well as working with and coaching people. She learned valuable life lessons and business lessons, which ignited her entrepreneurial spirit. The real game changer was starting her own personal growth and development journey, which she may not have done if it wasn’t a strong part of this direct sales company’s culture. And, as her direct sales business grew, she was able to resign as a teacher.
During this personal growth journey, Jenny started learning more about herself, particularly her love of coaching and helping people make their lives better. She learned that she thrives on being creative and following her intuition and that guilt and shame have caused her a lot of trauma and strife in her life. She also learned that despite the many invaluable lessons from being a part of this direct sales company, it was not her forever journey. She found certain parts were inauthentic to her, particularly too many rules and systems, and that she didn’t want to be in sales. This was the launching pad to take her from where she was, a burned out teacher, to where she wanted to be, a passionate and purpose-driven wellness coach.
Jenny’s next chapter started with focusing on her own health and wellness. She upped her fitness and nutrition game, focusing on the concept of having no guilt or shame with what she was eating and paying close attention to how certain foods affected her body. At the same time, she started self-education with personal growth and development courses. She found the teaching of Mel Robbins to be her jam and has read Mel’s books, watched many of her videos, and completed some of her courses.
During this period of self-reflection and self-care, Jenny was surprised when she realized that she had depression. Because she was so distracted and focused on putting other people’s needs ahead of herself, she had no idea this was an issue for her! Jenny realized that society's expectations that a woman's role is to put others before yourself was manifesting in her life as feelings of shame, sadness and depression.
This came to a crescendo in December 2018. Jenny began experiencing intermittent chest pressure. Knowing this was a potentially serious issue, Jenny had it evaluated in the emergency department and through a follow-up examination with a cardiologist. Fortunately, a serious heart condition was ruled out, however, her symptoms persisted. Jenny also experienced an anxiety attack around this same time. Jenny started working with a neuroscience counselor to look further into the depression and anxiety she was experiencing in hopes of identifying what was going on with her. Through counseling, she learned she had been ignoring and suppressing her feelings and by doing so, she was making herself ill.
Jenny is learning how to feel her emotions instead of burying them. One of her favorite mantras is that you need to feel to heal; it is impossible to flourish if you bottle up your emotions! Jenny has learned to stop and force herself to feel what is happening or about to happen to her. This might seem foreign to some, but for those that bottle up their emotions, this is a skill that is needed to be learned. A technique she uses is to control her breathing and connect to her feelings. She then names the feeling and starts to reflect with questions like how do I want to feel or what action can I take? This helps her to experience what she is feeling and deal with it, instead of pushing it down.
After studying self-development and refining her coaching skills, Jenny decided to open her own business called Jen Whitens Wellness, LLC, and developed her Wholly Fit program. Jenny’s business focuses on busy moms who are looking to reclaim their own wellness. Jenny understands the challenges busy moms face and helps them build a wellness program that fits their needs.
Jenny’s business continues to evolve but the core concept centers around helping women, especially moms, to get happy and fulfilled through healing their body, mind, and relationships as well as managing their energy. The game changer in her business was when she started connecting her own journey of bringing fulfillment and purpose to her life and helping other moms do the same. She loves creating tools, strategies, and programs for busy moms and women to help them live for themselves.
Jenny is passionate about spreading the message that busy moms should not avoid taking care of themselves. This isn’t selfish! She shares this message through her social media pages on Facebook and Instagram as well as on her podcast, which is appropriately named “Shed the Shame”.
Jenny serves her clients through her program called Wholly Fit. This is where she provides 1:1 coaching for 90 days to help her clients reach their personal goals from a holistic and emotional perspective. Jenny focuses on habit change and intentionally rewiring the brain from a body, mind, and emotional state. Jenny feels the key is to help people figure out what they like so they can stick with it. She assesses where her client is and develops an individualized plan of action. This is combined with a 3 month nutrition program, focused on clean eating to reset your body and uncover how certain foods serve you. She helps her clients uncover and deal with emotional eating, recreating connections to food from emotional to physical. Jenny loves helping people figure out how a behavior around food has formed. Peeling back these layers results in intuitive eating rather than reactive eating. Once you remove the emotions to eating, food truly becomes fuel and is guilt-free.
Jenny encourages busy moms and women to really work at reconnecting with who they are. Remembering the woman that existed before marriage, children, and career. We should all reflect on what is our passion, vision, and purpose as well as the feelings that go along with these. Jenny emphasizes to let go of the limits we place on ourselves when reflecting on these topics. She recommends getting a sense of who you are as a feeling or emotion and practice aligning yourself with this energy.
Jenny feels strongly that a great way to practice reconnection to self is through self care. One easy way to practice self care is journaling. If you are new to journaling or aren’t sure where to start, Jenny loves a simple journaling technique called the 5 minute journal. This is where you take five minutes every morning to write down three things you are grateful for, three things that will make today great, and one affirmation.
One last tip from Jenny is to use simple words or phrases to keep yourself aligned with your intentions. Right now, Jenny is using “relax, breath, release, believe, receive” to keep herself centered. These also remind her to pump the brakes when life gets too crazy and to remember to turn inwards towards self.
Jenny's personal journey from uninspired teacher to purpose-driven coach is a true testament to the magic that happens when you believe in yourself, follow your dreams, and push outside the limits of your comfort zone!
Check out all that Jenny has to offer on Facebook (Jenny Whitens), Instagram (@jen.whitens.wellness), or online (www.jenwhitenswellness.com). And, don’t forget her podcast, “Shed the Shame” (Instagram @shedtheshamepodcast) available on iTunes.
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.