Fitness + Well-being

Amazing Transformation: Overweight Mom to Fitness Model

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Jennifer Nicole Lee went from being an overweight, out-of-shape mom to a celebrity fitness model, best-selling author and health guru. After giving birth to two children, Lee dropped 80 pounds, took control of her lifestyle and became an international fitness expert. She captured the world’s attention by being named Ms. Bikini America 2005 and Ms. Muscle and Fitness 2006, and also by appearing on 44 magazine covers and telling her story on national TV.

We traveled to The Arnold Fitness Expo to meet Jennifer and get one-on-one insight into her super-mom transformation.

Q: You had two children, you lost over 80 pounds and now you’re a fitness model. How did you do it?!

A: Reverse psychology! I was sick and tired of being fat and out of shape with little to no energy. Being a new mom really hit me hard; I wanted to be the best mom and wife I could be. I made a commitment to learn everything possible about how super fitness models and serious athletes ate and trained.

I created my "Fitness Model Diet" book from all that I learned over the years. The biggest challenges were to get rid of all the excuses such as, “I don't have enough time" or "It’s expensive to live healthy.” I banished all of the myths and got real with myself. I also had a hard time giving myself the gift of time, as I wanted to see the results instantly. I had to learn to let go of wanting my weight loss success to happen overnight. I finally learned to enjoy the process of living healthy.

Q: What advice can you give to other moms who are struggling with weight loss?

A: Focus on being persistent rather than perfect. We, as moms, suffer from wanting the best for everyone, but we must just aim to put ourselves back on our to-do list.

Q: Can you explain your trademark phrase “Strong is The New Skinny”?

A: (It) means that women, especially moms, must rate their health level on how strong they are mentally, emotionally and physically. Being fit does not equal a size or being thin. But being strong means you are healthy and fit.

Q: What are some common mistakes that women make when dieting and exercising?

A: Women sabotage themselves every day by setting goals and then not following through. Being interested in a goal and then being committed to making it happen are two entirely different things. I urge women to also do more strength training than cardio, as lean muscle tone is the fountain of youth.

In my training method called JNL Fusion, I train my clients to do six circuits of three sets of 30-second strength moves followed directly by 30-seconds of a body-weighted cardio blast, which causes you to "super spike" your metabolism. JNL Fusion works because you are forcing your metabolism to go up and down several times in an intense, yet very doable workout method. It will also give you a fitness model's body, which is based on lean muscle tone, a tight whittled-in waistline and a low body fat percentage.

Q: You’ve become a bestselling author, a celebrity trainer and an international fitness idol. Which is your biggest accomplishment and why?

A: Being a dedicated wife and mom — and I’m grateful to motivate and move millions in a positive way.