Team Cellucor Athlete & Celebrity Trainer Jen Jewell Talks To M&S
What were the major milestones that gave you that “extra” motivation boost?
Stepping on stage for the first time back in June 2011 was a major milestone for me. Simply preparing for and committing to a show was a huge achievement.
When I first began training, I had little knowledge of the competition world. I didn’t know what a Pro card was, how that influenced competition ranks, or how to qualify to compete at the World Championships. All I knew is that I had always wanted to compete, and I was thrilled with myself for going through with it.
When I finally hit the stage, in my mind, I had already ‘won’ but to my surprise, I earned my Pro card! This accomplishment gave me an extra boost to prepare for the next step– the World Championships, which was just six weeks later. When I went on stage at Worlds in August of 2011, I was competing in the “Top 10 in the World” category, and placed 6th amongst a flurry of seasoned competitors. These competitions happened so fast and the results were unexpected, but I used these experiences as momentum to continue to improve and to become more active in the fitness industry.
A few months after Worlds 2011, I began talking with the well-known supplement brand, Cellucor, and I signed with them on my birthday in 2012 (Feb 7, 2012, is my Cellucor anniversary!). This of course was a major accomplishment and a huge milestone for me. It is an honor to be able to represent Cellucor–they have a wonderful team, top-notch products, and it is overall just an outstanding brand. My partnership with Cellucor inspires me to push myself further, to pursue opportunities, and to always be my best self.
What keeps you motivated?
I always refer to myself as a work in progress en route to becoming my best self. My love of a challenge, and my need to continually progress as an athlete, personal trainer, and as a whole person keeps me motivated. My clients are also a huge source of inspiration for me. Seeing how hard they work, how determined and focused they all are no matter what life throws their way, is truly inspiring.
How often do you perform cardio?
Some people think I am nuts, but I actually love to do cardio. I typically perform some type of cardio activity about five times a week. The duration of my cardio workouts ranges anywhere from 20-60 minutes, depending on what type of cardio I’m doing (HIIT, steady state, spinning class, etc.), and if I’m preparing for a shoot, competition, etc.
The weeks leading up to a competition I will crank up my cardio to an hour, 5-6 days a week. When I am not competing, I have more flexibility, and I just focus on having fun and constantly challenging myself.
Do you supplement your weight training and cardio with any other physical activities?
I definitely love to workout in any way, shape, or form, so any type of physical activity is always fun for me! If I want to shake things up, I will skip the gym entirely in favor of taking my cardio workout outdoors. I will either go for a run by the beach or at a track, or I will go hiking.
One of my newfound favorite activities is hot yoga. Recently I added hot yoga to my training repertoire a few times a week, and I’ve found that the combination of stretching and holding various poses has made me more flexible, and has even improved my lifts.
It’s definitely a lot different than weight training, but I recommend adding it into your regimen, maybe even once every 7-10 days. It will improve your focus and will give you more of a mind/body connection.
Which do you prefer, and why…steady state cardio or HIIT?
I’m likely one of the few people that actually enjoys cardio workouts. Whether it’s steady state or HIIT, I’m always up for it. I do have a bit more fun during my HIIT workouts though, because I’m challenging myself to kick up the intensity during the intervals.
HIIT may seem scary to people but it is really a fun and efficient way to blast fat while you challenge yourself to really push through extremes during those higher intensity rounds. HIIT comes in many forms, but sprints and HIIT on a step mill are my favorites. Any cardio workout that leaves you dripping with sweat, burns fat AND helps to increase your endurance is always a step in the right direction.
What are some of your best training tips for someone who wants to look good and get ripped?
Stepping on stage doesn’t always have to be the goal, but you should ALWAYS train with a purpose! Have a clear-cut goal (or goals) that you want to achieve, as well as a plan of attack on how you’re going to achieve each goal. Having clear cut goals, and setting a timeframe for each one will make it much easier for you to hit those marks and keep momentum going. Whether you compete or not, goals help to keep you motivated and structured. Hit the gym with a purpose every day.
When I’m not preparing for the competition stage but still want to be lean and ‘ripped’ I keep intensity high during all of my workouts. My hat and headphones go on when I’m in the gym so there are no distractions, and I go from one exercise right to another, adding in cardio bursts between each set.
For example: if it’s leg day, I’ll perform a set of sumo deadlifts, then I’ll jump rope for 1 min straight–then right back to another set of sumo deadlifts and jump rope. Limiting my rest periods and taking advantage of every minute I’m in the gym makes my workout more efficient—not to mention it torches more calories. This form of training makes it much easier to get ripped and keep that extra body fat off!
Note: When I add in cardio bursts between EVERY single exercise, it’s typically anywhere from 30-60 seconds of activity. These cardio bursts are not to be done in place of your regular HIIT, or steady state cardio workouts, but instead they should be included as part of your strength training programs. I look at the cardio bursts as a ‘bonus’ bit of fat burning.
What are some of the biggest training mistakes you’ve made?
In years past, when my approach to eating wasn’t as healthy and balanced as it is now, whenever I would splurge a bit too much on a regular basis I would do extra cardio in hopes to ‘work off’ whatever I had eaten too much of the day before. I was indulging in wine too often and having too many sweets, which eventually caught up and wreaked havoc on my body and system as a whole. Bottom line is, you cannot out-train a bad diet! No matter how many extra minutes of cardio you do to try to burn the excess calories, unfortunately it’s not that simple!
Another training mistake I’ve made in the past is failing to take a rest day when I was sick. I would feel a cold, flu, or other type of illness come on, and I would go ahead and push through it just so I could get my workout in. Unfortunately this would make me even sicker, which kept me out of the gym for an even longer time than if I’d just taken a rest day and focused on getting well. Instead, I was stubborn, pushed through, and ended up making it all worse. Don’t be afraid to take a rest day- listen to your body and realize that it could be telling you to slow it down, rest and recover a bit more.
What are your best tips for getting ripped and shredded abs?
When I want to get ripped and shredded abs, I crank up the intensity in the gym and make sure there are some serious clean eats in the kitchen. For example, I will train abs three days a week. In between each set of abs exercises, I don’t just sit around and wait, I get up and perform some kind of cardio burst. I will usually incorporate jumping rope, burpees, overhead med ball slams, mountain climbers, plank jacks–anything to help turn up the intensity, burn more calories, and help shed that extra body fat to reveal a sculpted six pack.
For meals, it always helps me when I remove processed foods from my daily intake. Drinking extra water each day, eating whole foods, lean proteins, heart healthy fats, starches such as oats, yams, and quinoa, plus getting in tons of veggies and fruit are always key for me when it comes to getting more shredded. I’ve found that as soon as I remove overly processed foods from my diet, it is easier for me to lean out. It also cuts down on excessive sodium in my diet, which helps to show off abs as well!
What does your post-workout nutrition and supplementation look like?
My post workout nutrition is simple – I always eat within an hour of finishing up my strength-training workout, and I make sure that meal has a solid source of lean protein and carbs. While I don’t count my calories or macros, I do typically have my largest serving of carbs in my post workout meal.
Sometimes I am on the go and I wont have time to prepare a meal. Instead, I will have a Cellucor COR-Performance Whey protein shake mixed with water, and a side of fruit, to hold me over. I will make sure I eat a regular meal within an hour or so after that. For supplementation, I use Cellucor’s Alpha Amino during my workout and combine it with L-Glutamine as well.
How do you prepare meals? Do you cook daily or cook for the week?
Meal prep varies from one week to the next. I travel often for work, so when I’m on the go I try to plan ahead and bring as much food as possible with me when I travel. If I’m at home, I typically cook daily.
What’s really helped me cut back on the overall time spent prepping food is to choose a couple of my favorite proteins to cook in bulk (for example, ground turkey breast and chicken breast), along with some quinoa, and make enough for the next 3 days of meals. Some other items that I use for meals throughout the day include egg whites, veggies, fruits, and heart healthy fats such as avocado and almonds. I will throw a combination of these together in each meal and I’ll be ready to go.
Having protein sources already cooked helps cut back on prep time each day. All that’s left to do the day of, is prep the other, smaller items. Veggies for instance, are an item that I prep the day of, mainly because they get soggy if you cook them ahead of time and leave them in the fridge.
I am definitely not the type of person to meal prep out an entire week’s worth of food and have 30+ containers of Tupperware sitting in my fridge at the start of each week. That approach may work for some, but I prefer to avoid it.
What are your favorite cheat meals and foods?
Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am a self-proclaimed ‘dessert monster.’ I absolutely love desserts–freshly baked chocolate chip cookies topped with ice cream, gooey brownies, or even funfetti cupcakes are all my favorites.
I also enjoy Mexican food a ton, but I am not a big fan of sour cream and cheese, so I can typically make most of my favorite Mexican dishes a lot healthier just by modifying my order. I’ll usually order Fajitas and ask that they be prepared without the oil and butter, and without the sour cream and cheese.
I’ll also order the whole beans instead of refried, so overall it’s not a terribly unhealthy meal. Other favorites are a good burger (not the greasy fast food ones), and sweet potato fries!
What are your thoughts of niche diet approaches like the Paleo Diet, Adkins Diet, Keto Runs, the Warrior Diet, Intermittent Fasting, etc.?
Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of various fad diets or extreme approaches to anything. My reason is, when something is so extreme or restrictive about what you ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ have, it doesn’t work very well for the long haul. What works best in terms of ‘dieting’ or eating healthy, is simply what will work for the individual. If it is a sustainable diet, and you will have no problem adhering to it year-round, then go for it.
Personally, it’s much easier for me to enjoy eating healthy, balanced meals than it would be to follow rigid guidelines like counting my macros, avoiding foods with gluten, or keeping under my allotted carb intake for the day. A strict approach to diet is not very fun, plus it’s extremely limited, and not realistic for me and my lifestyle.
I eat out at restaurants on a very regular basis, and still manage to stay on track with clean eating. I know what to order, how to modify the order to make it healthier, and I know how to estimate appropriate portion sizes for protein, starches, fat, etc. That may not work for everyone, but it’s helped me stay far more balanced and on track year round than other approaches I’ve used in the past.
What does your current supplementation plan look like?
Right now I am four weeks out from a fitness photo shoot. I need to be a bit leaner for this shoot, so I’ve added in Cellucor Super HD and CLK to help maximize fat burning. For me, this has been my ultimate fat-burning stack, and it has helped me achieve seriously solid results for competition prep and photo shoots.
For my pre-workout, I’m taking Cellucor’s N-Zero Extreme, and during my workout I take Cellucor’s Alpha Amino. I also love Cellucor’s COR-Performance Whey, and I typically have 1-2 servings of it daily—usually for protein pancakes in the morning and for a shake later in the day.
What are some of your favorite motivational quotes?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
If someone wants to connect with you, where can you be found?
- My athlete page on Facebook is where I am highly active and interactive with people: www.facebook.com/fitnessjewelltraining
- I always try my best to respond to all health & fitness questions/tweets that I receive on Twitter : www.twitter.com/fitnessjewell
- I post a ton of fitness content, workouts, motivation, fit tips and more on my Instagram page (and again, am highly interactive with those that comment and post on my page – I always try my best to respond!) www.instagram.com/fitnessjewell
- My personal website where others can check out and message me about training, online training, etc. is: www.fitnessjewelltraining.com
What attracts you to the natural side of sports and competition?
I grew up competing in gymnastics, but I wasn’t active in team sports such as basketball, soccer, or softball. I dedicated about 14 years to gymnastics and the sport inspired me to push to be the best version of myself. As a gymnast, you rely solely on yourself to get that high score in each category— to nail the landing, flip higher and tighter than you did the last time. No one else is going to pick up the slack–your performance is solely up to you. This instilled a competitive nature in me at a young age and it has stuck with me. I am always pushing myself to be better than I was the day before.
Having competed in four fitness competitions, I’ve shared the stage with other athletes who are all vying for first place. Of course, I am always in it to win it– I would be lying if I said I entered just for the heck of it. But more than that I am in competition with myself– to beat my physique and performance from the previous year. So far, I’ve been able to do both– each year I’ve improved upon my physique and confidence level on stage, while at the same time improving my placing. When you compete with yourself instead of constantly trying to compete with others, I find that you are far more satisfied with your results.
Favorite activities and hobbies you enjoy when away from the gym?
I live in Southern California, so I am fortunate that we typically enjoy great weather year-round. I love heading to the beach for a workout or with friends.
I’ve been adding hot yoga into my training lately and have found that I truly love mixing up my workouts and having it supplement my weight training. Running, hiking or any outdoor activities are all on the top of my list as well. When I am not doing something active as a hobby, I also love to read and travel. I’m heading off to London soon for a fitness workshop, and then to Portugal for a few days of fun. Later this year I’ll be heading to Australia for fitness events and workshops, and I’m thrilled to be able to combine two of my passions, both fitness AND travel into one!
Funniest thing you’ve seen at the gym recently?
Recently I was at the gym, off in the corner stretching after my workout. I looked up to see an 80-year-old man standing there right in front of me, just looking at me. I thought to myself “What in the world? What is he looking at?” and he then busted out a double bicep flex right in front of me, shouted “Grrrrrr!”, and then simply walked away.
Suffice it to say, I laughed aloud at this and wondered what in the heck was going on. The next time this guy saw me at the gym, he walked over and said, “Whenever I see you and see you’re working out, it just makes me want to flex and say ‘Grrrr’ so that’s what I did!” This has since turned into a joke amongst myself and my friends, so now whenever I am heading to the gym I joke about going to go get my ‘grrrr’ on or that it’s ‘grrrr mode time’ haha.
Which college or professional sports teams do you root for?
Born and raised in Northern California, I love my Niners football! Fingers crossed they’ll return to the Super Bowl again next year – we just missed it this time around!
For college sports, the college I graduated from didn’t have a huge athletics program, so unfortunately I can’t really cheer for them. Instead, when college football is on, I just enjoy watching the games, as football is definitely my favorite sport to watch, no matter what team is on.
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