Embarrassed about her body Jennifer Hennessey decided it was time to get her health and fitness back on track and she fought hard and shed over 26% of her bodyfat in an amazing body transformation story
What Made You Turn Your Life Around?
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 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 les- than-fit self.
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 busy moms and career women.
How Did You Do It?
I had every excuse to not succeed yet felt there was not a good enough excuse not to try. I wanted to make my family proud and become a positive role model for my kids. I began to do my homework. I found out that nutrition was the key ingredient to that lean, magazine body that all women want. Sadly, diets for me have always been unsuccessful and a short course of eating healthy food followed by discouragement leading to continued bad eating habits. I found a sports nutritionist, Dr Chase Banks, as I started my workout plan. With missing so much valuable sleep, I needed help meeting nutrient needs and wanted the security of knowing I was eating correctly around the clock. My life in the drive-through quickly turned into hours in the kitchen (a first in my life!). Eating healthy is a lifestyle commitment not just a temporary choice. Over months, I learned to work my food prep hours in while home with the kids and how to pack 14-18 hours of meals in my portable cooler every work day.
If anyone spends time up late or working nights, they know that late night eating is not so healthy – snacks, candy, and fast food I wanted to prove I could do this transformation to those that doubted, and stuck to Dr Banks meal plan recommendations. No more diet Coke and carbs to help me keep my sleep-deprived body going, only clean eats and water. It took extraordinary food, planning, and dedication to obtain a more than ordinary physique. My body reached all the goals I had in transformation within 8 months when I took the stage at < 12% body fat and won my figure and fitness model classes. Since that show, I have continued working with Dr Banks and local trainers to work towards showing in NPC for 2012.
What Helped You Stay Motivated?
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.
Were There Any Unique Challenges That Made Your Transformation 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 counter productive 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 push ups during my 14 hours shifts in the ER
What Does Your Training Plan Look Like?
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.
Day 1: Am: Cardio – Pm: Legs & Arms
Day 2: Am: Shoulders
Day 3: Am: Fasted Cardio – Pm: Heavy Leg Day
Day 4: Pm: Back Day
Day 5: Am: Fasted Cardio – Pm: Abs & Core
Day 6: Am: Cardio – Pm: Shoulders & Triceps
Day 7: Track Workout
What Was Your Approach To Nutrition?
Working with my nutritionist, I ate every 2-3 hours during any awake time…that’s alot of food when you are up for days on end.
What Does Your Nutrition Plan Look Like?
Turkey, ground extra lean, 3 .oz
Grits, yellow corn dry 1.2 .oz
Pico de gallo, 2 tbsp
Sea Salt, 0.5 tsp
Sirloin top, 3 .oz
Red potato, baked 4 .oz
Asparagus, boiled, 8 spears
Chicken breast, boiled, 3 .oz
Broccoli, raw, 1 cup
Rice cake (plain) with 1.5 tbsp almond butter (plain)
Brazil nuts, 1 .oz
Egg whites, 5 of them
Pico de gallo, 2 tbsp
Asparagus, 8 spears
Spinach, raw, 3 cups
Onions, raw, 0.25 cup
Fish, tuna 3 .oz
Did 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 flavourful 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?
Throughout The Day:
CTD Multi-Elite Vitamin
Phosphatidyl Serine 500mg
Nordic Naturals Omega 3 liquid
MRM Digest All
Labrada EFA Lean Gold
USP Labs Modern BCAA
Evogen EVP preworkout
What Is Your Lifestyle Like Now?
Currently, I am 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 compete my depletion track workouts on Sundays. I am on my 2-3/weeks cheat meals and eating around 1800 calories per day of clean meals. Until I get closer to showtime, I will work on making an effort to enjoy other areas of life such as 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.
Any Suggestions For Others?
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.
More From Jennifer Hennessey
Getting fit has literally changed my life. I expected and hoped for change in my body and appearance, but I also found that by committing to a lifestyle of eating clean and fitness that I am an improved me inside and out. I feel more confident and now enjoy meeting/talking with people that also need that little motivation or push to get a goal/dream off on the right track.
I am now motivated to show other busy women, and men, that there are no excuses if you really want to achieve something. Go for it! I am planning to continue forward on my Figure journey and will seek Pro Figure status and hope to also gain recognition and opportunities to work with respected fitness magazines and supplement companies – as a spokes model and writer.
Checkout Jennifer’s website www.jenniferhennessey.com