Three Years Ago

by Jenn (eating bender) on March 16, 2011

Pour yourself a mug of Coffee Cocoa and settle down, friends. It’s time for a story!

Once upon a time, there was a 20-year-old girl working as a nutrition department clerk at a grocery store in Scottsdale, Arizona. During the summer before her junior year of college, she spent six hour shifts replenishing the shelves with some of the most random and odd foods she had ever laid eyes on.

Who would ever drink almond milk?, she thought to herself.

Tofu looks terrifying.

Who the hell is Clif and why is his name on so many different types of bars?

Although she ended her summer at the store feeling skeptical of these so-called health foods, she did gain a new appreciation for the fact that there certainly must be more than one right way to eat – and that for some reason there was a ridiculously high demand for something called ground flax.

Flash forward two months, and the girl is spending her fall quarter away from school at her journalism residency (or “JR,” as the cool kids call it). Her job at ABC15 is almost always packed with excitement.

Her mom made her do it. The hairbrush is a microphone…right?

The station keeps her plenty busy, so much so that she looks forward to the small chunk of the day that revolves around her spending time at the assignment desk, answering calls and pretending to follow up on press releases from the public relations professionals who call to make sure she received all the information (oh the irony).

In other words, she looks forward to the moments when she can check her email and browse the websites of some of her favorite magazines. Fitness is something of an obsession for her and she subscribes to every glossy with a healthy and fabulously happy looking female gracing its cover.

One day, while perusing a particular favorite,, the girl comes across a page called Eat Like Me. Immediately, she thinks that the author is crazy. Why would anyone take pictures of what they eat and post it for everyone to see every day?

But wait. This web page – I think somewhere it said that it’s called a “blog” – is actually entertaining.

The girl doesn’t share her discovery with anyone else, for fear that they will think she is crazy. But she continues to visit Eat Like Me every time she is at the assignment desk, clicking through the archives and realizing how refreshing it is to see that a professional healthy eater eats the same foods she does.

Weeks pass, and the comments section of Eat Like Me begins to populate. It’s like a juicy piece of gossip. She knows she shouldn’t give in to reading but finds herself doing it anyway. That’s when she finds out about Sweat, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Everyone is talking about how awesome this girl Kath is, so she clicks over to find out whether the rumors are true.

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and the girl can’t get over how organized Kath the blogger is as she prepares to entertain her family. The menu is laid out, the decor is perfection and the food? So many dishes the girl has never tried before, but they all look amazingly delicious.

When Sweat, Eat, Sleep, Repeat became Kath Eats, the girl knew there was no going back.

She had entered into Foodblogland and her daydreams were consumed by oatmeal toppings.

Candle wax is not recommended.

Around Christmas, the girl attempted to start her own food journal on a site called Blogspot. She named it “Eating Bender,” thinking the double meaning was clever. Her nickname was Bender. A bender signifies a spree. Thus, a lifelong healthy eating spree was born.

That blog lasted for three days before lying fallow for three months. Its posts were then deleted.

If you’re looking for a laugh, though, you can check out the remains.

But inspiration was gnawing at the girl. More blogs began to show up on the scene. Carrots ‘n’ Cake. Eat, Live, Run.

An amazing blogger and commenter extraordinaire named VeggieGirl.

The girl made up her mind. She wanted a blog that VeggieGirl would comment on. (Seriously. This was a major determining factor!)

Thus, this little blog began on March 16, 2008.

Post topic? Baby kiwi. Creativity? Debatable.

By now, you’ve probably figured out that that girl is me. 😉

The rest is history, stored in the archives of what I truly feel is my greatest personal accomplishment as a writer. This blog brought me into a world I could never have expected. Introduced me to people I would have never known. Became a creative outlet for my biggest passion – writing – and a secondary passion that was becoming more and more important – food and cooking.

I watched one year fly by me. Then two.

Now three.

Through it all, I have grown from a naive college student…

“I’m a junior studying broadcast journalism at Northwestern University. I really started working out when I was a junior in high school, but the healthy eating part is a continuous struggle. Not healthy foods – healthy eating. I have the best of intentions, but most of the time it leads to too much of a good thing. By keeping a visual tab on everything, I hope to fix that – for good.”

…to a slightly jaded, yet ever optimistic “real world” professional.

“My name is Jenn. My nickname is Bender. I’m a 20-something city girl working and writing in Chicago hoping to share tips and advice on how to balance a hectic schedule while maintaining health, wellness and, most importantly, sanity!”

(Whether I have actually maintained that last part is still debatable.)

My blogging style and eating habits have evolved, too. Yet through it all, I continue to have the most amazing readers who take the time to visit me every day. Who never give up on me as a blogger even when I want to give up on myself.

You’re the reason I’m still here, typing these words on this page.

You’re the reason I still plan to be here three years from now.

So thank you for believing in me and supporting my musings, my photography, my recipes and, more generally speaking, my words. It means more than you know.

You’ve helped me remember what it’s like to be carefree when it comes to food. To enjoy every guiltless bite. To savor life’s treats the way I so easily could savor them when I was three years old.

I need to bring the hula girl bathing suit back.

Food is meant to be enjoyed. This blog helps me enjoy it to the fullest.

I am lucky to have you in my life. If I could reach through the screen, I’d give you a huge hug. It is, after all, my favorite way to end every post.


1 glidingcalm March 16, 2011 at 1:47 am

happy blog-oversary my darlinggggggggggggg beauty!

2 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:30 am

Thank you, GC! I’ll never forget that I connected with you soon after the launch of my blog, too. Remember our epic Whole Foods date? So much fun!

3 VeggieGirl March 16, 2011 at 5:30 am

Oh my goodness, you made me blush! 😀 I’m so blessed that you commented on my blog, that I visited your blog, and now we’re real life friends. Happy blogiversary!!!!

(P.S. – holy moly do we need to have a phone chat or skype).

4 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:30 am

We are definitely blessed! I can’t wait to catch up with you!

5 Erin March 16, 2011 at 5:58 am

Happy blogiversary Jenn <3 This was so fun to read!

6 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:31 am

Thanks, Erin! So lucky to know you. :)

7 Erica March 16, 2011 at 6:07 am

:) Happy Blog Birthday!!!! Its amazing to see how all of our blogs have evolved over the years. So glad you decided to start and have kept with it!!

8 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:31 am

I couldn’t agree more and feel the same way about you!

9 carolinebee March 16, 2011 at 6:56 am

SO cute!! Haha if I could “like” this post, you know I would 😀 ESP the veggie girl part!

10 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:32 am

😀 Love it! Can’t wait to see you in a couple of months! More info coming your way soon!

11 Amy March 16, 2011 at 7:44 am

Congratulations on your accomplishments and growth. You really do provide great information, recipes and insights. Love your writing style and photos too. Keep up ALL the good work, and hope to see you at our next “sisterhood” gathering.

12 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:33 am

Thank you, Amy! That means a lot. I look forward to our next sisterhood gathering, too!

13 brandi March 16, 2011 at 8:45 am

I love this :) What a great 3 years so far!

And I love hearing who other bloggers looked up to when they were starting – I remember being SO Excited that YOU added me to your blogroll!!! Such a fun day :)

14 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

Thank you, Brandi! I still remember coming across your blog for the first time. If I could bottle the excitement I feel when I find a new blog friend, I’d make millions. 😉

15 Jess March 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

Great post and so well written. Congrats!

16 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:33 am

Thanks, Jess! :)

17 Angie (Losing It and Loving It) March 16, 2011 at 9:12 am

Great story! And Happy 3 yr. blog birthday!

Didn’t know Kath started with a blogger blog. It’s fun to see how things progressed.

18 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:42 am

Thanks, Angie! It is truly fun to look back and watch how things evolve.

19 Green Dog Wine March 16, 2011 at 9:23 am

Happy anniversary my dear! :) So glad Eating Bender exists! :)

20 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:34 am

Thank you, thank you! :) I feel the same way about you. :)

21 Megan (Braise The Roof) March 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

Wow, three years is a huge accomplishment! Your blog has become such an upbeat, lovely piece of the internet and I so enjoy reading your posts. :)

22 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:34 am

Thanks, Megan! I’m so glad that we met at the HLS. Can’t wait to finally catch up with you in person sometime (soon, please)!

23 Jennifer @ keepitsimplefoods March 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

Aww, sweet story! Congratulations to you for all you’ve accomplished!

On another note, I’m hosting a coconut oil giveaway on my blog today through Sunday. Check it out!

24 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:35 am

Thanks, Jennifer! I will definitely check it out. :)

25 cbrady3 March 16, 2011 at 11:05 am

Happy Anniversary Jenn! You are so inspirational to me because you have followed your dreams, even at a young age. Congrats!!

26 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

Thank you, that means so much. :) Glad to have “met” you, too. Hopefully in person someday!

27 Jess @JessCantCook March 16, 2011 at 11:31 am

Congratulations!! I loved reading this, very inspirational to those of us just starting out in the blog world :)

28 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:43 am

Thank you, Jess! So glad that Brittany’s blog connected us. :)

29 Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing March 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

Love it :)

30 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

Thank you! :)

31 Monique March 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm

CONGRATS on three years strong!!! Here’s to many, many more :)

32 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

Cheers to that! Thank you!

33 Salah March 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Happy 3 year blogiversary!!!

34 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

Thank you, Salah!

35 Kristie March 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm

HAPPY THREE YEARS Jenn! You’ve come SO far in such a short time. Just amazing :)

36 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:37 am

Thank you, Kristie!! I’m so glad that blogging introduced me to you, too. :)

37 Lindsey March 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Wow! Congrats on 3 years! It’s great to hear stories of how my favorite blogs were started. I can only hope that mine will one day be awesome like yours :)
Hope you’re having a great day!

38 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

Your blog is already awesome! :) Thank you!

39 livelaughloveandrun March 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

What a cute post!!! Congrats on 3 years! It’s funny to hear how we all pretty much started the same way.. congrats on your success!!

40 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

We truly did! Thank you!

41 Susan March 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm

You were one of the first food blogs I read! I never read Eat Like Me though and am always surprised by how many people got started from that. Happy three years Jenn! Looking forward to three more xo

42 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:41 am

Thank you, Susan! I’m so glad we’ve connected and had the opportunity to meet last summer, too. Your “honesty” post was super inspiring, by the way.

43 lawfullyweddedwife March 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Congrats, so awesome!!! Your story is very inspiring! :)

44 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:41 am

Thank you so much! :)

45 BroccoliHut March 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm

It’s been a fabulous three years–I’ve enjoyed reading every one of your posts! I think of you as my blog sister, since we started our blogs just a few days apart:)

46 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:41 am

Sisters from another mister? :) I like it! Thanks, Caroline!

47 Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel March 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm


48 Shannon March 17, 2011 at 7:31 am

love this :) and congrats!! what a fabulous time we’ve had here 😉

49 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:42 am

I’ve had a fabulous time knowing YOU! :) Thanks, Shannon.

50 jobo March 17, 2011 at 8:57 pm

What a great way to commemorate three years!! Congrats! Your blog is awesome, it’s filled with great thoughts, pictures, foods, and people. You have done a great job with it!! To many more to come :)

51 Jenn (eating bender) March 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Thank you so much! What a sweet comment. :) I truly appreciate the kind words!

52 CaSaundra March 22, 2011 at 8:54 am

Wow, such a great story! I love hearing how blogs come to be. Yours is definitely one of my favorites to read. You’re always so driven and upbeat. Keep up the fabulous work!

53 natalie (the sweets life) March 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm

aww great post (behind bc i was on vaca last week :)) you’re so fun to read–keep it up!

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