The Lily Cafe is thrilled to host Jenni Dunlap, blogger at Housewife Hustle and author of the self-help book Eat the Damn Muffin.
Jenni blogs over at Housewife Hustle, where she talks about motherhood, body and sex positivity, mental health, wellness, and general lifestyle topics. Over the past year, she has written increasingly more about body confidence and has stressed the importance of every person, regardless of size, feeling confident in their body. This has culminated in her first book, Eat the Damn Muffin, which will see a second, paperback volume this fall.
What sparked your body positivity journey, and what has it been like?
My body positive journey was sparked by a realization that I was going about health all the wrong ways. Last year, I was told I would need a hysterectomy, and that made me want to follow my passions with blogging. Once I was writing and doing what I loved to help ease my nerves and stress, I was okay with the thought of my hysterectomy. Blogging and writing have also been a tool for me, but I knew I wanted more. I wasn’t entirely sure the direction I was going with my blog, but I had to wait until after surgery to focus on what goals I wanted to achieve.
Once I had the surgery, I wanted to start taking better care of myself. This past fall, I kicked it into overdrive and started working out regularly. I thought I needed to restrict calories and lose weight to be healthy. I was still equating health with thinness, and it dawned on me that I wasn’t healthy and my disordered eating habits were starting again. So, I decided to change my entire mindset, and from that, my body positive attitude and body acceptance blossomed.their
Was it easy to write about body confidence, sex, mental health, etc. or were some topics a bit more of a struggle to get down on paper?
I’m very candid and open about my mental health and body struggles, but there were parts that had me in tears. I wrote this book as a tool to help pull people out of that dark place of body shame, and getting out of that mindset wasn’t easy for me. It was much easier to talk about self-care and sex. So some parts flowed liked water but other parts were like a difficult therapy session.
I also had to find a way to write about working out, because even though I love my body as it is, I still exercise. I don’t workout to lose weight, but certain exercises, especially yoga, help with my anxiety. I wanted to convey that working out doesn’t mean you aren’t happy with yourself but it’s okay if conventional working out isn’t for you. Finding a way to word that was a challenge, but I think I did a good job.
If there’s one thing you hope your readers take away from your book, what is it?
Everyone deserves to feel beautiful, and confidence is possible for every body type.
I love the title of your book. Any writer knows picking the right one is often a tough job. How did you come up with yours, and how did you know it was the right one?
I had a container of muffins on my counter one morning. I was feeling gross and just overall unhappy about my body that day, because even though I’m all about positivity and body acceptance, I still have tough moments. I was staring at a muffin, and I thought that I just needed to eat the damn thing. In that moment, I realized there isn’t good or bad food, and food isn’t the enemy. Restrictive eating and the discourse around labeling what we eat can be so damaging, so, I decided I could eat the damn muffin and still be beautiful.
It turned into an Instagram post, and I told my husband about using that phrase for my book. He loved it, and I did too. It just stuck, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Is your book targeted at a certain audience, or can anyone benefit from it? Similarly, as a woman, I imagine your perspective is geared more towards females, but could males also benefit from reading your book?
In the book, I try not to use specific pronouns, because we can all struggle with self-love and body confidence, but I do think the overall voice and feel will benefit women more.
Can parents use your book to encourage body positivity in their kids?
My book is geared towards adults, but there are affirmations and some tools that could be useful in teaching about body positivity. I don’t necessarily recommend letting kids read it though. I talk about sex, masturbation, and a few adult concepts that many may find inappropriate for a younger audience.
I do swear some in the book as well. This book reads like you’re having a conversation with your best friend that has no filter. It’s a no holds bar, self-love and self-help type of book without apologies.
The expanded paperback edition is about to come out. What can readers expect, and how is it different from the ebook?
The ebook is basically ⅓ of the paperback. Not only is the ebook the majority of the first section, the paperback will include body positive pictures, self-help worksheets, and more chapters overall. It will be available early this fall.
As a busy mom of two, what was the writing, editing, and publishing process like?
I’m following toddlers all day, so if I found a free moment, I was working on my book. Whether I was in the bathroom or it was nap or bedtime, I carried around my phone and laptop to write. Most of the editing process happened very late after everyone was asleep. I had a hard time stopping myself, because once I started to edit a chapter, I wanted to keep going.
What was your favorite part of your writing and publishing journey?
My favorite part was editing. It took me more times than I’d like to admit to say, “okay it is perfect,” but every read through had me excited. I found myself agreeing and applauding my words, because I genuinely felt the power of the message even though I’m the one who wrote it to begin with.
I am a wife and mother of two boisterous toddlers. My husband and I were best friends all through high school and college, and we decided to get married and start a family in our early twenties. Being a mom is something that I didn’t always know I wanted, but when I married my husband, everything fell into place so beautifully, and I wanted our little family to grow.
I was born was a genetic eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa and was declared legally blind in my teen years. Being blind means I handle parenting and daily life a bit differently, and I often see with my hands. I do have a small amount of vision that is like seeing through a small straw. I’ve had mobility training, been involved in numerous disability groups, and I have also done my fair share of public speaking about disabilities and awareness on college campuses. I struggled with bulimia and mental health issues for close to a decade, but I decided to get help a few years before becoming a mother. I have been pretty successful in my recovery, but I am no stranger to health issues. I’ve had to have tumors removed, multiple stomach surgeries for adhesions, as well as a hysterectomy last year. It’s been a battle, but is has also shown me all of my strength and capabilities. For that, I am grateful.
All of my health battles have led me to a journey centered around self-love and body positivity. I’ve wanted to be an author since I could hold a pencil, so writing a book about how to grow confidence and embracing bodies felt like my calling. After my health struggles, I genuinely wanted to help those who were in a similar mental space and had body image issues. Writing the book has been such a blessing, and I will continue to write and publish more motivational books in the future. I also will continue to manage my blog. It’s a passion and a career, and I couldn’t ask for a better job that to be a mom and a writer.