STEP AWAY FROM THAT CROUTON!

Hey people! Thank you for taking time to visit my site. As you can see from my rather revealing childhood photos, I really want you to get to know me. I am not an actress or model. I’m just a normal person who discovered a more-empowered version of herself through health and fitness. I want to be real with you so hopefully you can get something out of my experience to help you on your own fitness journey. So in the interest of being real, wanted to give you some backstory on the photos in the gallery, the most recent taken at the MORE FITNESS WOMEN’S HALF MARATHON April 15th, and how taking the photos ties into me adjusting my diet to burn more fat.

If you don’t have time to read the full article and the zany adventures of Jen Turner, below are the takeaways. I will dig into the below topics in subsequent posts. Here’s the upshot:

1) Abs are made in the kitchen – they are mostly a function of diet; not exercise
2) To burn fat, I continued to do my regular workouts in the morning and tried working out on an empty stomach. For endurance training (half marathon training runs) I made adjustments and ate something light 2 hours before the workout because I needed fuel to support the activity. After my workouts, I let my body continue to burn and ate an hour to an hour and half after the workout was completed.
3) I made my own protein shakes with fruit, hemp seed for protein, chia seeds for fiber and Omega-3s, water or almond milk. I ate every couple hours, 5-6 times a day.
4) I devoted part of my daily workouts to ab exercises and core work. Even 5 mins consistently, made a difference.

Ok, so if you’ve got the time, read the full article:

A couple months ago, I went to a fitness modeling agent to investigate the possibility of modeling. People (meaning friends who could have very well been lying to me) have said to me for years I should try modeling. Given I’ve started a business (MAD COOL FITNESS) and I want to take what I’ve been doing privately with wellness coaching of friends and family, public, and help more people through my personal brand, I thought fitness modeling might lead to some interesting marketing opportunities.

So I met with an agent.

His feedback was cordial and generally positive, but direct, which I appreciated. With a once-over of some photos I’d taken the assessment was: arms –good, legs- good, abs…the feedback was…: “Need to see your abs. I need you to lean out right in here. Heee-er. ” He said as he did deft double swirls of his mouse over my mid-section in the photos on his computer screen. “Like hee-er”, one more computer circle. To be more specific and give examples, he then showed me photos of other models that were really cut, “in heee-er”. And these chicks were BAD. Rut-roh.

My stomach was pretty flat but the issue was he needed more “definition”. In some photos, at certain angles, with certain light, standing on one foot and touching my nose, yada, yada, yada, you could see these elusive muscles better. In others, honestly, not so much.

I have never been a big ab person. My stomach is the first place I gain weight and the last place to lose it. When I was overweight and even at a size 4 before I started working out, I always had a little pooch going on, which I had accepted as my little friend Herbie, not really bothering anybody, but just sorta hangin’ out –literally.

When I became active, Herbie did shrink, but with respect to body areas to focus on, I’ve always kinda been like, let’s just hit the highlights – legs/arms- I mean who’s really looking at the middle anyway?? Whatevs. I didn’t really care. It’s only in the last year, finally, really getting the concept that your strength really does come for your core, and core work could make me a better, faster runner, something I actually did care about, that I’ve been working on my abs. They were flat and strong, just not that defined. And honestly, I was fine with it. Until the agent conversation.

Re: when I took the photos, I also hadn’t done myself any favors. In typical Jennifer fashion I was over-committed, had led an 8 mile training run that morning and then immediately after crammed in taking the photos. Your skin is always a little loose after cardio so this did not help my situation. Being competitive and because it was a legitimate comment delivered in a professional matter-of-fact way, and the fact that I simply could not take one more “heee-er”, I took the note and transitioned to thinking about how I was going to make this ab thing happen.

I was doing plenty of exercising, in fact probably too much (rest is key to any fitness program and quite honestly, like most people, I wasn’t getting enough). Which meant there was really only one other lever to pull: diet. I needed re-enforcements. I called my nutritionist, Orvel.

Now Orvel is SUPER cut, I mean no body fat whatsoever, and vegan but he definitely is not trying to get his clients to be vegan. He really works with your lifestyle and tastes to tailor a program to you. That said, if you wanted to torture him, you could tie him up, throw chicken wings at him, and he’d probably go into anaphylactic shock.

“Hey Orvel, I’ve got an ab situation. The situation is I need them and um… I don’t have them so, ah, like what can I do?”
He asked what I was eating at the time. Here it is:

Pre-morning workout: Thomas’s English muffin, multi-grain light. Recently I had started eating this before my work outs . My workouts had gotten longer and more frequent because I was training/working out and I was also training/teaching other people.

Breakfast: 1 Pure Protein branded protein shake; cup of whole grain oatmeal. I usually added Bare Naked high protein granola to this, with low-fat milk.

Midmorning snack- pack of nuts (walnuts, cashews, or almonds). I noticed my body responded better to almonds than cashews and would see a difference in terms of building lean muscle. I would also have an apple as a snack.

Lunch: a salad with chicken, light parmesan with croutons and vinaigrette dressing or chicken breast and greens; fruit cup of melons, berries, pineapple.

Snack: popcorn with sea salt; honey & oats granola bar or fiber one bar

Dinner: salad with croutons; almonds, balsamic vinaigrette; olive oil. Salt and pepper. Ground turkey patty. Blueberries.

Here’s what he told me to do:

Breakfast: Make your own protein shake with fruits (blackberries, blueberries). Adding shelled Hempseed as a protein source. Try working out on an empty stomach in the morning. This gives your body the ability to burn fat, instead of burning what you ate prior to your workout. Your body is in a fasting state when you wake up, so the only energy the body will turn to is fat for fuel. Once you eat breakfast that opportunity as gone.

Mid-morning: handful full of raw almonds with about 3 dates (so sweet and gooey BTW. LOVE them).

Lunch Chicken Salad, get rid of the parmesan and croutons. Vinaigrette or squeeze a lemon or orange for dressing. Get rid of the fruit cup and have an apple or pear

Snack: Bell pepper with hummus. Deep six the popcorn and sea salt

Dinner: Raw salad with sweet peppers onions, tomato add any other veggies you want.

He told me this and I found myself doing what my students do to me when I give them guidance on diet and exercise – BUT-ING. “But I work out so much Orvel, I need food before I work out”. “But I need carbs. How will I keep from bonking during my long runs”. “But I’ve been drinking the same protein shakes for years. How will I get enough protein?” I went on and on. He listened to me patiently until I was but-ed out and then he said ,”Just try it”.

So I did. I went home and looked in my kitchen cabinets. I collected all of my croutons (I had literally just bought like a 40 pound bag of croutons from Costco and was super-bummed I couldn’t eat them), all of my Thomas’s English muffins, these really tasty multi-grain high protein tortillas. Put all of that stuff in a bag, walked down the hall, and rang my neighbor’s doorbell.

“Hey, do you want my croutons?” I said when her nanny opened the door. I must say I did tear up a little bit as I handed over what had become in one brief phone conversation oh-so-good-and-tasty contraband. I then went Costco and bought tons of fruits and vegetables, then went to the health food store and got the Hempseed and chia seeds. I was ready.

I also carved out 5-10 mins from my workouts to work on these pesky little muscles. And guess what? It totally worked! I started to see results within 2ish weeks. In 4 weeks the abs were there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not six pack Sally. There’s a woman in my gym who is amazing and has an 8 pack, and she’ll tell you the first place she gains weight is in her hips (we all have our issues). I’m definitely not in her league but I’m a lot better than I was. I’m still probably half a crouton away from disaster so I better stick to the program, but this is the most definition I’ve ever had, even when I was going through my eating disorder and at a lower weight. Also in terms of energy and athletic performance, also all great. I’ve never had more energy and I’m running the fastest I’ve ever run. The dates have taken away my cravings for sugar and bread.

So to wrap this up, first, you can change your body. Don’t accept certain “problem areas” like I did and just let it be there. Second, exercise is really important, and diet is really, really important if you want to lean out and get more muscle definition. Third, if you want different results, try different things, don’t “but “ yourself out of the game and keep hangin’ out with Herbie. He’s annoying.

Jennifer Turner

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