Family Christmas on my mom’s side wrapped in Arkansas yesterday. It’s an event that’s been part of my regularly scheduled Christmas programming every year since my arrival in 1988. If your family ever needs lessons on how to conduct a proper game of Texas Christmas — more commonly (& possibly offensively) known as Chinese Christmas, the Wheeler crew has it down to a science, including strategizing & post-game bargaining. This year, the game went down after a plate full of brisket & ribs & just before the fresh batch of jello shots came out of the fridge. The watermelon jello with mango rum was by far the winning combo.

The Wheeler clan is a growing brood. There are four “kids” (my mom being one of them), & then it’s all of their kids (I’m one of 11), & now our kids (there are 15) & of course everyone’s spouses. It’s a big bunch. And despite the original four being the only ones originating as a Wheeler, that last name carries some strong genetics. When you walk in the door, you notice it’s as if the other contributing blood lines took a back seat so the Wheeler aesthetics could shine. They all grow up to be six feet tall gazelles who could be mistaken as track stars who model Levi’s on the side. I use the word they because I am not a part of this majority. My mom married my dad who I’m pretty sure builds muscle while he sleeps & has the bone structure to house them. And for a guy, this is great. He could stand next to one of his male gazelle relatives, & it would be a toss up who has the physical advantage. (Except this would never happen because guys don’t care about this kind of crap.) And then there’s me, who inherited those muscles unite! genetics, & has legitimately been asked at one of these family gatherings if I’ve been lifting a lot of weights lately because my physique is such a family anomaly.

Don’t think I’m bragging here. For nearly two decades, I alternated between not wearing pants, (If only I lived in the 1950s! I thought) & researching if there was a calculated amount of pilates I could do to stretch my leg muscles half a foot. (I’d be freakishly tall, I thought, but man, look at those track star legs!)

The truth is I still struggle with my body type– but now there are more days I’m confident in my body than days I’m not. Pining for a body type that I wasn’t born with has never gotten me anywhere, so instead, I had to ask myself what I really wanted from my body. I wanted to feel confident in my skin. I wanted to feel strong & healthy. I wanted to take care of my body. I wanted to show my gratitude for a healthy body. I wanted to feed my body well & take care of it. I wanted to stop comparing my body to everybody else’s.

Those were the wishes. Now how to make that the reality.

I set goals– goals that aren’t written in stone but can morph over time as my journey gains wisdom.

I decided to find workouts that empower me instead of workouts to try to change me. If I feel myself forcing a workout because I am unhappy with my body, I stop & voice that I am grateful for a body that can move.

I decided to practice cooking with healthy foods that taste good to me. And also not to allow myself indulgences but to enjoy one of my first loves, dessert, without shutting it out of my life like a deadly sin.

I decided to wear clothes that flatter my body & to walk with my head held high & my shoulders pressed back to show my body I am proud of it. (This may sound dumb, but if you’re walking in baggy clothes with your shoulders slumped over, what kind of message do you think you’re sending your brain about the way you think about yourself?)

I went through a long season of loving skirts, but the whole reason I started wearing skirts was to hide my legs. I’m probably 16 here.

I decided to stop letting my appearance be such a contributing factor in my brain space. When I’m constantly looking up Blake Lively’s workout routine & eating habits, it’s no wonder why my thoughts are so consumed. Really, if it’s not something that can help you on your journey to become the best version of yourself (not just your body, but the whole package), don’t consume it. Plus, Blake Lively is probably a great gal, & I’m sure there are much better things you can read from her than her tricep routine.

We’re about to kick off a brand new year (Hello, 2019!), & it’s easy to think of all the ways we plan to be better & do better & LOOK BETTER in these wide open spaces (Hello, Dixie Chicks!) ahead of us. Don’t let this mindset take you captive. You are already amazing. Instead of setting goals to change you, consider setting goals to EMPOWER the fire & beauty already inside you.

LET’S DO THIS, 2019!



  1. Jess on December 31, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Body image is a massive issue. I wore certain kinds of sandals to hide my toes (never flip flops) through high school LOL. You are a total athlete and you rock every bit of it!!! I love the message of empowering who you are inside instead of changing. I feel like everyone has it in them, you just gotta tap into it!! Great post!!

    • Jenna Winegeart on January 3, 2019 at 5:05 pm

      Girl, yes! I totally tried hiding my toes, too! What on earth. Thank you for sharing!

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