Body Transformation: Busy Mom Jennifer Hennessey Changes Her Body Composition

Embarrassed by pictures of herself, Dr. Jennifer Hennessey set new goals to look strong, fit, and unstoppable. She dropped her bodyfat by 28%.
Editor's Note: Everyone is different and these results may not be typical for the average person. To achieve these results you need to be willing to put in the work both in the gym and in the kitchen. Use this transformation for motivation for you to make the changes you want!

Before Stats

  • 33
  • 128 lbs
  • 36.6%
  • 5'1"

After Stats

  • 34
  • 109lbs
  • 8%
  • 5'1"

Lifestyle Prior To Change

What was your lifestyle like prior to your transformation?

My daily life is a quite unconventional. I hold a full time job as an emergency veterinarian working night shifts while being a busy mom of two, wife, and veterinary journalist. My life screams for fast food and anything to help me find shortcuts.

I would even skip sleep for 3 days/week to fit it all in...I know that’s not too wise. Without the time or desire to work out, I found myself living day to day feeling more insecure and self-conscious about my less-than-fit self.

Jennifer HennesseyWhat was your low point or turning point?

In December of 2010, I decided that I was no longer going to put my needs aside. I was embarrassed about how I looked in family pictures and even more disappointed by the reflection in my mirror. I decided that I would make time to work out and wanted to feel proud of my body. I wanted to look strong, fit, and unstoppable despite the schedule that ruled my life.

With the challenges of my daily routine, I had 2 big requirements – I needed a workout that was convenient and one that I could do at home (separated from the intimidation of the local gyms). I bought P90X - a home workout system - and looked forward to meeting a new, more fit, lean me.

At the same time, I was blessed to stumble across a picture of figure competitor Erin Stern online and became instantly motivated to create that physique. I love a challenge and any reason to compete therefore a competitive goal would keep me motivated in my workouts and on track with healthy eating. With such a substantial goal ahead, I also set me mind to prove that anyone can get in shape...even a busy moms and career women.

Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?

Wow, yes. Lack of free time to rest and sleep. Appropriate rest is essential for body recovery when bodybuilding or training for any event, and well...I only sleep 4 nights/week. My body is under constant stress and strain since my days are spent as a busy mom and my nights are working non-stop in a busy animal emergency room. Stress, cortisol and lack of sleep are counterproductive to developing lean mass and a better metabolism.

Lack of time also posed its own challenge. To fit in workout time, I come home from a 14 hour shift and do a one hour workout before continuing my day then during show prep time. I fit in 1-3 workouts within my schedule on no rest. It’s now not unusual to see me doing lunges or leg lifts or pushups during my 14 hours shifts in the ER.

Please provide a timeline including when you started the transformation, and include major milestones:

  • Transformation Start: Jan 2011
  • Milestone: April 2011 -  114 lbs and 19% BF
  • Milestone: August 2011 – 109 lbs and 11% BF
  • Transformation End: March 2012

Jennifer's Training Approach

What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?

My training plan started with the p90X program and lots of cardio including jogging. At the beginning of my transformation, I could not even jog a half mile! Now, I use p90X as an easy warm up workout.

My approach during transformation consisted of finding anytime everyday to get a workout done. No excuses. I even did fasted morning cardio at work during contest prep by running up and down the clinic stair case for 45 minutes at the end of shifts.

Jennifer Hennessey

Please add a workout that worked best for you:

Monday
Exercise Sets Reps
Elliptical - 25 min moderate pace, AM workout    
Sled Push 5 50m
Dumbbell Lunge Step Up 1 20 each leg
Alternate Dumbbell Curl 4 12
Tricep Dip 3 20
Yates Row 4 Drop sets
P90X Plyometrics video    
Tuesday
Exercise Sets Reps
Shoulder Press 3 12
Clean and Press 5 8
Side Lateral Raise 3 15
Front Dumbbell Raise 3 12
Upright Row 3 12-15
Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Flye 3 12
Arnold Press 3 15
Wednesday
Exercise Sets Reps
35 minutes fasted cardio: climbing stairs - AM    
Leg Press 4 12
Abductor Machine 3 15
Adductor Machine 3 15
Leg Extension 4 12
Leg Curl 4 12
Calf Raise 4 12
Stiff Leg Deadlift 4 12
Squat 4 12
Smith Machine Calf Raise 4 12
Kettlebell Swings 3 12
Thursday
Exercise Sets Reps
Hammer Strength Lat Pull Down 4 12
Hammer Strength Row 3 12
Hyperextension 3 15
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 12
Bent Over Barbell Row 3 12
Dumbbell Pullover 4 12
Friday
Exercise Sets Reps
35 minutes fasted cardio: climbing stairs - AM    
Captain's Chair Hanging Leg Raise 3 15
Vertical Crunch 3 15
Ab Tuck 3 25
Plank   2 minutes
Bender Ball Crunch 1 100
Bender Ball Side Crunch 1 50 per side
Saturday
Exercise Sets Reps
Elliptical 40 minutes - AM    
Side Lateral Raise 3 15
Front Dumbbell Raise 3 12
Reverse Pec Dec 3 12
Push Up 3 25
Cable Tricep Extension 4 15
Cleans 4 12
Skullcrusher 3 12
Upright Kettlebell Row 4 12
Dumbbell Tricep Kickback 3 15
Hammer Curl 3 12

Jennifer HennesseySunday - Track work day:

  • Jog 400m
  • Burpee - 15
  • Swing kick over hurdle – 20 each leg
  • Spring across field to bleachers
  • Bleachers - 15 (up/down)
  • Calf raises - 20
  • Spring across field
  • Tire flipping - 10
  • Box jumps – 15
  • Stride, jog, stride, jog around 400m track
  • Bleachers – 15
  • Walk/jog lap around track
  • Walking lunges down yard line
  • Pushups - 25
  • Squat jumps - 20
  • Sprint down football field
  • Tire flipping - 10
  • Burpee - 15
  • Sprint to bleachers
  • Bleachers – 15
  • Walk 400m

Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?

See above. My cardio during transformation was geared to keeping the heart rate in the fat burning zone (120 bpm) to be most effective at fat burning but also to spare muscle breakdown.

Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:

  1. Keep heart rate in the fat burning zone and avoid the temptation to “over train” to burn calories.
  2. Importance of changing up the exercise routine to avoid that plateau (where you no longer see change despite working hard).
  3. Weight training is it’s own effective cardio workout and calorie burner.

How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?

I am currently training to build more muscle mass and proud to be working with a natural athlete and pro bodybuilder Mike Fregia. I am training with heavy weight high reps and focusing on working each muscle group (i.e. back, shoulders, biceps, etc) once/week.

I am continuing my Sunday cardio/track workouts every other Sunday and working in 30 minutes of fat burning cardio per week. My main focus is to build up by August before starting my next pre-contest diet for the Texas State Championships.

Jennifer Hennessey

Jennifer's Diet And Supplement Plan

What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?

Working with my nutritionist Dr Chase Banks, I ate a clean meal every 2-3 hours during any awake time...that’s a lot of food when you are up for days on end.

Can you give an example of what your daily meal plan looks like?

  • Breakfast - Turkey, ground extra lean, 3 ounces, grits, yellow corn dry 1.2 ounces, pico de gallo, 2 tbsp, sea salt, 0.5 tsp.
  • AM Snack - Sirloin top, 3 ounces, red potato, baked 4 ounces, asparagus, boiled, 8 spears.
  • Lunch - Chicken breast, boiled, 3 ounces, broccoli, raw, 1 cup, rice cake (plain) with 1.5 tbsp almond butter (plain).
  • PM Snack - Brazil nuts, 1 ounce, grapefruit, ½.
  • Dinner - Egg whites, 5 of them, pico de gallo, 2 tbsp, asparagus, 8 spears.
  • Evening Snack #1 - Spinach, raw, 3 cups, onions, raw, 0.25 cup, fish, tuna 3 ounces, tomato, 0.5 cup, vinegar, apple cider 1.5 tbsp, olive oil, pure 1 tbsp, mustard, yellow 2 tsp.
  • Evening Snack #2 - Turkey, ground extra lean 3 ounces.
  • Evening Snack #3 - Turkey, ground extra lean 3 ounces.

Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?

Overall, I stuck with the plan. I was afraid to deviate for fear I would be starting from the beginning if I strayed from the diet.

Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:

  1. I learned that diet is the key to a stage body! No matter how hard I trained, the biggest results developed by dialing in my body with changes in my diet (carb amounts and timing of carbs).
  2. I learned to appreciate that food is fuel. When tempted by “normal” food, I learned to appreciate that it was more for immediate enjoyment but did nothing good for my body. Great food equals a great body.
  3. I learned quickly the value of eating frequently, every 2-3 hours, to keep the metabolism revving.

Jennifer HennesseyDid you allow yourself cheat meals?

Yes, healthy cheats were allowed. About 4 weeks before show, I was allowed a “cheat” of ground beef tacos. To help my body build healthy mass, I utilize clean burgers or ground beef tacos as off diet meals. I typically avoid protein bars or meals like pizza.

I want my cheat to be flavorful but productive to my metabolism and body plan. Off season, I eat 2-3 cheat meals per week for about a month to take a small break from diet restrictions and then will incorporate a cheat meal even though and then to keep my metabolism/body from plateauing on my meal plan.

What supplements did you use during your transformation?

Advice For Others

What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?

  1. Find a nutritionist – nutrition is key and balancing a diet along with cravings is difficult. Having someone tell you how to do it correctly and design a plan that is effective takes all of the guesswork out and will increase your results.
  2. Be prepared to commit and stick to your guns. You’ll find that peers will feel compelled to entice you to cheat here and there as and join the “norm” but it’s only peer-pressure. Be prepared to resist and prove to others how dedicated you are to becoming fit and lean. You will later be everyone’s source of inspiration.
  3. Progress is slow as you are changing your body and lifestyle. In order to keep weight off, you need to train your metabolism and habits correctly in order to maintain your end goal. Patience is a must.

How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?

After just over a year, I can look back and see the slow steady progress and appreciate that a transformation takes time and patience. My advice to anyone is to focus on the goals ahead and not on the scale. If you are training well and eating clean, the results will happen and will be worth the wait.

Your Life Now

What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?

Wow! Since my transformation, I feel a whole new confidence and am proud of many new opportunities that have arisen as a result of my hard work. I recently signed on to be the spokes model for EatFitters (Eat Fit for Life) in Houston. This will allow many opportunities to inspire and guide others to learn the value of clean eating and teach the importance diet plays in developing a fit, healthy body.

I have also been blessed by the opportunity to do fitness modeling for Labrada Nutrition. I am currently in between shows and am still working towards that next goal. My next show is in October which means from now until August, I am limiting cardio and focusing on developing muscle mass.

I workout 6 days/week with emphasis on hitting one body part per workout for maximal growth while allowing rest days for muscle group recovery. I am working with a new trainer, Mike Fregia, twice per week and complete my depletion track workouts on Sundays. I am on my 2/weeks cheat meals and eating around 2200 calories per day of clean meals.

Until I get closer to show time, I will work on making an effort to enjoy other areas of life such as summer fun with my family, riding my horse, working on art work, and working on my journalism hobby which is writing for local magazines and interviewing about pet care on my local TV stations.

What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?

I have the ultimate source of motivation...my children. Their mom is constantly working on cooking or working out and totes “safe” food around everywhere. I want them to see me succeed. Every time someone comments on how tough my schedule is and “how I should rest and enjoy a meal out” I feel more compelled to prove to them and myself that I will stick with the clean eating and that I will continue to work towards success as a figure competitor.

Anything else you would like to share?

Eating right and sticking to any plan that will better the body is the toughest challenge anyone can face. My advice is to find help and support and to not attempt any transformation alone. Changing the body is a slow process that requires full dedication and commitment. It’s too easy to become discouraged or cave in to temptations...find a nutritionist, a fit friend, or a trainer to help you with the process.

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6 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 02/08/2015 - 18:03
Juan

Incredible transformation ! She looks amazing! Stay motivated ! Stay fit for life ! You go girl!

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Posted Mon, 01/11/2016 - 22:03
Jonathan

YOU ARE KILLING YOURSELF doing that

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Posted Sat, 03/29/2014 - 10:33
Laura

Impressive

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Posted Sat, 01/04/2014 - 02:09
Lennox

WOW you look stunning

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Posted Wed, 07/17/2013 - 16:05
las804

Very impressive. Just remember, children care that their mother loves them and spends time with them. They're nor particularly concerned that she meet her personal goals. Love and attention are the key. Good luck!

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Posted Sun, 11/25/2012 - 11:13
Alan

That track day seems INSANE, but fun.