What keeps you motivated?
I have a number of things that keep me motivated to stay in shape. About 4 years ago I was overweight. At first, I made the wrong choices to lose weight. After ending up in the hospital weighing a scary 98 lbs I decided that I would commit my life to a balance of nutrition and weight training and have not looked back since. When looking at pictures and comparing them from then and now, I am still amazed at how far I’ve come in such little time. I think that alone is more motivating than anything.
Another thing that really keeps me going is people who come to me for advice, whether they are going through the same thing I did or they just need that extra push to live a healthier life. My family is also very motivating for me, they support my lifestyle 100 percent and anytime I am in a rut they are right there to push me through it.
What does your current training and split look like, and what do you like most about it?
Right now I am finding a lot of success with the current workout program I am on. I am weight training a different muscle group each day (lifting heavy) with little rest in between sets. Instead of just doing 3 sets of each exercise I am doing 4, starting with higher reps and working down to lower reps. I can feel myself getting stronger, haha!
I try to make it a point to switch my workouts up every 6-8 weeks, or as soon as I find myself just going through the motions. If my mind starts getting bored with the workout then so do my muscles and that means that it’s time to switch it up! I believe it is important to do this in order to help keep from hitting a plateau.
What are some of the most common mistakes made when someone is trying to build muscle and/or get ripped?
A common mistake (one that I am guilty of as well) is too much cardio. In the past I would do about an hour a day of cardio along with my weight training 6 days a week. I am already pretty tiny as it is and have trouble gaining muscle size so this was in no way beneficial to me. So with that being said, I have lowered my cardio tremendously! I am only doing 20-30 minutes of low intensity cardio 2 to 3 times a week and I usually do it right after my workouts. Needless to say, I’ve noticed a huge difference in muscle gains, and I am still lean.
Another common mistake is not stretching before your workout. Stretching is extremely important to prevent injuries during weight training. I would have to say about 95 percent of people that I see walk into the gym go directly into their weight training without any type of warm up or stretching. Other than preventing injury, stretching will also help aid in muscle recovery and soreness/stiffness after a workout.
Do you have any gym, muscle building or fitness pet peeves?
Oh I have tons of gym pet peeves! People leaving 10 plates on the leg press machine after they are finished using it would have to be one of my biggest...It’s a pain in the butt for people (especially us girls) to have to go through an entire lifting routine in order to start our own workout. Also if I’m in the middle of a set and you try having a conversation with me (especially when I have headphones on) don’t be surprised if my reaction isn’t a pleasant one. ;)
How do you prepare meals? Do you cook daily or cook for the week?
I prefer to cook twice a week in bulk. Usually Sunday and Thursday night. If I don’t do this and I’m not prepared then I find that I’m more likely to eat something I'm not supposed to, or even skip a meal so I make it a point to prep ahead of time. A couple favorites would be lean ground beef or ground bison sautéed with onions and a couple tomatoes with chili seasoning (my fiance' makes this for me and it’s amazing!). Then I just portion it out and use Ezekiel wraps, and spinach.
Also I always grill or bake a bag of the frozen chicken breasts and throw them in the fridge. Another favorite is tilapia tacos. I sauté or bake a few tilapia filets, mix in some salsa and lemon and spinach and eat them just like that or with Ezekiel wraps. I love cooking so this is the perfect lifestyle for me!
What are your favorite cheat meals and foods?
I typically stay pretty strict on my diet; however, after a photo shoot I will splurge (sometimes). So, since I am a dessert kind of girl I’d have to say my favorites would be donuts, cupcakes, ice cream, cupcakes and cookies. And my favorite cookies are the sugar cookies with sprinkles from Publix! They are seriously to die for. And look! I said cupcakes twice!
What are some of your best diet, nutrition and supplementation tips for someone who just wants to look good and ripped, but doesn’t want to compete?
It is all about dedication. Eating clean and knowing when and what to eat at the right time in the day. Also, it’s important that you don’t get too caught up in what those athletes look like on stage. To be like that year round would not be healthy. There’s a lot of dieting and extreme dedication that goes into that, and they only look like that for about 1 maybe 2 days. So for a maintenance year round diet, you just want to make sure you are giving your body the nutrients that it needs in order to grow muscle and to maintain that muscle. The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn.
It’s also important to make sure you’re eating every 2 to 3 hours which will keep your metabolism burning like a furnace! That way your body is on a schedule and constantly burns what you’re eating, rather than storing it. When you’re eating 1 to 2 meals a day, or if you are skipping meals this will put your body in a fasting mode which will actually break down your muscle tissue. Instead of constantly burning the food as energy your body will in turn store it as fat because it doesn’t know when the next time it will be fed.
What are your thoughts of niche diet approaches like the Paleo diet, Adkins diet, keto runs, the Warrior Diet, intermittent fasting, etc.?
Don’t waste your time! Your body needs proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to function properly. For any diet to say you need to rid one completely of your diet to lose weight is not healthy, nor is it necessary. As long as you are getting these in the correct amounts and at the right times, there is no need for any of these diets. Fitness and clean eating is a lifestyle and should be an everyday awareness, not a two week crash to lose 10 pounds while potentially damaging your body and feeling like crap in the process.
Workout music – Don’t care, or MP3 player?
My MP3 player is a necessity in the gym! I’ve gotta have it. On my playlist you can find everything from Lil Wayne, Eminem, Nelly, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake to As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Darkest Hour, Through the Eyes of the Dead, Project 86, Lamb of God, It dies Today….and a lot more. I love my music!
If you could be one athlete or person for a day, who would it be and why?
A couple years ago had you asked me this question I would have replied with a list of different names. I look up to a number of different athletes; however, I, for once in my life, can honestly say I am 100 percent happy with who I am. So don’t take that in the wrong way, but it really is a great feeling to know who you are and how hard you worked to get there.
If someone wants to connect with you, where can you be found?
You can visit my website at www.jennareneefit.com, my Facebook is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jenna-Renee-Fit-Fan-Page/263494884000?v=wall or Twitter: www.twitter.com/jennareneefit.
Favorite activities and hobbies you enjoy when away from the gym?
I grew up riding horses, so any chance I get, I am out riding my horses! I also love traveling and camping. I am very outdoorsy, love hiking, skiing, fishing, and anything outside.
Which college or professional sports teams do you follow?
New Orleans Saints...Boston Red Sox...gotta support my Orlando Magic, but I love the Celtics too!