Hey everyone! I’m super excited to bring you this month’s Finding Fitness! Jen from Burpees for Breakfast is someone I discovered relatively recently, but is so inspirational! As you might remember, I’ve been getting more into weightlifting lately. Well, here is someone who definitely believes that girls can lift heavy! I love her focus on a healthy mindset and on weightlifting and am so happy to get to share her with all of you. Finding Fitness is all about sharing others experiences in their fitness journey with the hopes of inspiring you on your own journey!
Background: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I help women fit healthy living into their everyday life. I’m a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, nutrition coach and blogger. While I have my own business, I work full time in corporate wellness. I’m from a small town in Indiana and currently live in a smaller one with my husband and fur child, Oscar. I’m a huge fan of coffee and kombucha, pancakes and sushi. I love the beach and dream of living by it some day. Friends is my all-time favorite show, followed closely by How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Rec and New Girl. Currently, I’m slightly obsessed with the Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack. And of course, I love all things fitness, nutrition and mindset!
How did your fitness journey start? What motivated the change? Along with that, what has kept you interested?
I started running the summer of my senior year of college to keep up with the other interns I was working with. Surprisingly, I ended up enjoying it. I continued running for a few years post college and eventually started to incorporate HIIT workouts, using the Nike Training Club app. During this time, I was dealing with some pretty difficult gut issues. It took a journey to heal my gut to really motivate me to change. I started eating better and working out smarter. The change I experienced with my gut healing journey has motivated me to keep going. In the past 4 years, I’ve made healthy living a lifestyle and I honestly can’t image it any other way. I love how I feel when I take care of my body, so it really only takes a couple days of not eating so well to get me back on track! If anyone is interested, they can read more about my gut healing journey here.
What has been your biggest challenge in your fitness journey and how have you dealt with it?
Understanding that rest days are necessary AND finding a form of fitness that I love. When I first started, I worked out 7 days a week and would feel back every time I had to skip or had to take an off day. Now, I can have weeks where I only workout twice. The key was finding balance and experimenting with different things. It was a lot of trial and error, but it was worth it!
Have you had any setbacks since starting your fitness journey? If so, how did you deal with them?
I’m a type-a, overachiever, let-me-do-all-the-things kind of girl. This does not always work well for the body. I’ve dealt with gut issues and adrenal fatigue twice. The last time was in early 2016 and I actually just stopped working out all together. This break, while tough, but so important. It helped me figure out why I wanted to workout, what types of workouts my body enjoyed and helped me identify how fitness could fit into my life.
What achievement are you the most proud of?
Starting my own business was a pretty big deal and I’m proud of the fact that I did it AND still do it! On the fitness side of things, I just PR’d my deadlift at 205# and finally nailed my pull-up. I’m at 4 – 5 in a row right now and working on 6+.
Outside of the physical, what have been some significant changes brought on by your fitness journey?
Learning to love my body. A few years ago, my husband challenged me to lift weights for 2 months. I was a cardio queen and lifting had no appeal to me. However, lifting ended up changing my life and view of my body. Muscles started popping up and I got curves. With my history of digestive and hormonal issues, I noticed huge changes in this department as well. I credit lifting to helping me fully embrace and love my body.
What are you working towards now? What are your goals and dreams, fitness-wise?
Right now, I’m not working on much. With the summer, I tend to have trouble staying consistent at the gym because I want to be outside doing activities. So, this time of year I’m in maintenance mode. I am working on my back squat goal, hoping to hit my 225# deadlift goal and working pull-ups. Once June hits, I’ll likely just focus on maintenance and knocking out more pull-ups!
I guess my long term dream as of recent would be to bust out pull-ups like the people on Bar Starz!
What does a typical training week look like?
I usually aim for 3 – 4 days of workouts each week. Monday is typically Leg Day and I focus on squats. I usually do an upper body focus, deadlift / back day and a HIIT day. Now that summer is around the corner, I tend to enjoy workouts outside. I will sometimes skip the gym in favor of long walks or playing tennis with my husband.
What does an average day of eating look like for you?
As much as possible, I start my day with a big mason jar of water and a cup of warm lemon water with collagen. I usually have a fat + protein + veggie heavy breakfast. After lots of experimenting, I find my body does best with this ratio. Occasionally, I’ll throw in a carb like half a banana. I love coffee, so I drink at least 1 cup most days, usually with a scoop of collagen. Lunch is a typically homemade and will include a carb, fat, protein and veggies. I like to workout after work, so depending on the workout, if I need a snack, I’ll have a little carb / protein 1 ½ – 2 hours prior to my workout. I have Creatine/half a EAA scoop for my workout. Rather than a post workout snack, we typically have dinner, which is more carb heavy! I love chips, so if I have an evening snack, I like to have those. Boulder Canyon is my favorite brand!
Do you take any supplements? If so, could you tell us a little about what ones and why? If not, why not?
What works for me and my body is taking the following supplements. This might not work for everyone AND some people might need more/less. I use supplements to enhance my diet, not replace.
EPA / DHA or Fish oil for inflammation. I have asthma, so I like to reduce inflammation as much as possible. Magnesium for gut health and muscle recovery. Vitamin D helps my mood and my skin. Probiotic for gut health. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides for gut, skin, hair, nail and joint health. Superfood Greens (occasionally) for extra support. Protein Powder (occasionally) for workout recovery or a treat. EAA for muscle recovery. Creatine workout performance.
What is your favorite exercise? Your least favorite?
I love lifting and HIIT workouts. Favorite exercise move is probably a deadlift – pretty much any variation. My least favorite exercise is probably side plank…only because I’m not very great at it!
What do you do if you find your motivation lacking?
If I’m lacking fitness motivation, I figure out if I’m enjoying my workouts. If I’m not, I’ll either switch it up or take a break from working out. In the nutrition department, I’ll try new recipes out or make simple meals that require little creativity. For other areas, I like to journal through my thoughts and try to figure out what’s going on that way. Usually just writing down my thoughts helps my mood shift.
How do you balance fitness with work/life/social/etc? How do you “find the time” to workout?
Moving my body is a priority, so I make time for it. Moving and nourishing my body are my top priorities and help me feel my best. With all the things I have going on, being able to full give myself to the projects and people in my life is important. If I want to be able to do that, I move and eat well. Some days are ‘healthier’ than others. I’ve learned to just lighten up and give myself grace, instead of being obsessive and strict, making sure I do things perfectly everyday.
What are your top 3 tips for someone just starting their fitness journey?
I actually wrote a post on this topic recently called How to Start Working Out and Stick With It. I expand on the tips in the post, but my top 3 would be
- Just start moving. Walking is a highly discounted form of fitness. For people that have maybe never worked out before, walking is a great place to start.
- Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals. If you have a SMART goal, it’s more likely you will stick with it!
- Start at your current level of fitness. If you are just starting your journey, it’s unlikely that starting out with a 200# deadlift is the best option. Start with the basics, master them, then move on from there.
I’ll also add: Find something you enjoy. If you start running just because other people are, but you hate it, it’s unlikely you will stick with it. Doing something YOU enjoy is the key to consistency.
Anything else you want to share?
I recently started a free Facebook group called The Burpees for Breakfast Squad! It’s a community for health-minded women to chat about wellness topics and offer support! I’d love for anyone interested to join us.
Sara here: Jen, thank you so much with sharing all of that awesome information with us! Guys, I hope you enjoyed getting to know Jen and hearing about about her journey. I love how many different ways that we come to fitness in our lives and I hope you are being inspired by all the different stories being shared in my Finding Fitness series!
Jen Elliott helps women fit healthy living into their everyday life. She is a certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, group fitness instructor, blogger, dog mom and girlboss behind Burpees for Breakfast. Her passion is educating, equipping and inspiring women with simple, smart and sustainable solutions for healthy living. On her blog, she talks all things fitness, nutrition, mindset, self-care, body love and more.