The Journey Called Life
Jennifer Stutz O’Brien was born on January 31, 1968 in South Williamsport, PA. She grew up in “South Side”, and was a huge tomboy. Jenn was driven into sports. She was an All-Star Track and Field athlete, Big League Little League World Series Champion in 1980 for softball, a Varsity basketball athlete, and played recreational tennis and gymnastics.
She started college at Penn State University Altoona, where her secret she had kept for over a decade…the secret her eating disorder. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, eight million people suffer from an eating disorder. Jenn has been dealing with hers since she was 11 years old.
At 11, it started with binging/purging, also known as bulimia. When she entered into high school, it then turned into anorexia nervosa. Her track and field coaches would tell her that she wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t in shape, that if she lost weight she’d be faster. Her self-confidence was low because she didn’t feel like she was going to be worthy enough to be the athlete she wanted to be.
Her freshman year at Penn State Altoona, her boyfriend was the one to talk to her parents. At that moment in time, she went to Geisinger hospital, and opted out of inpatient treatment because she didn’t want to go, and there wasn’t that many options at that time. She then was transferred to Penn State Main Campus, where she finished out her college degree.
Still struggling with body image and self-confidence she entered into the real world. In 1995, she became pregnant for the first time. This pregnancy and the two she had after had been her saving graces. At these points in time, she was able to manage her eating disorder. She knew that she had a life inside of her and she didn’t want to risk losing them.
For the next two decades, she battled her eating disorder.
She became 80 pounds at her worst, and over 150 pounds at her best. In 2007, she became diagnosed with an incurable muscle disease. This led to treatments of chemo, a stomach pacemaker, and becoming very weak. She’ll tell you that she believes part of her health problems are from the decades she put her body through hell from purging and restricting.
To this day she still struggles with her eating disorder. It’s just not as extreme. She’s working on healthier ways to battle, but at some points it’s not easy. Her husband Chuck, has helped her to love herself more. She has become more open with her battles. Recovery is a process, and she has made one hell of a progress.