Finding Fitness: Jen from Burpees For Breakfast

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!

Enjoy!

Jen from Burpees for Breakfast shares all about her fitness journey, gaining a love of weightlifting and so much more in this month's Finding Fitness!

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.

burpees-for-breakfast

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+.

pull-up-fitness-goals

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!

deadlift-fitness-goals

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.

burpees-for-breakfast

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.

burpees-for-breakfast

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

  1. 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.
  2. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals. If you have a SMART goal, it’s more likely you will stick with it!
  3. 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-burpees-for-breakfastJen 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.  

 

To see more of Jen, check out her blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

Share

Finding Fitness: Jo at Fallen Angel Fitness

Hey everyone! I am so excited to bring you this month’s edition of “Finding Fitness”! Today I’m introducing you to Jo from Fallen Angel Fitness. If you follow me over on Instagram, you know that I’ve been getting pretty into weightlifting the past few months. So my interview with Jo was even more exciting for me with her passion for lifting!

Whether you are just getting started on your fitness journey or have been at it for years, I think she has a lot of insight to share, so I will let her get to it. Enjoy!

Whether you are just getting started on your fitness journey or have been at it for years, my interview with Jo is sure to have some insights for you!

Background: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Jo, I’m 37 years old, from England, and I live with my husband Alan, my cat Charlie and my terrier-cross Cookie.
I’m really new to the world of blogging. I have a few social media pages and also upload videos to a Youtube channel each week, but decided to start my blog in December 2016 because I wanted a place where I could merge my love of fitness with my passion for writing.
Aside from my interests in fitness, I’m a trainee psychologist in my final two years of training. I believe that psychology has a huge role to play in fitness and I try and bring aspects of this into my blog posts where possible. I’m also a qualified counsellor and I enjoy being able to make connections with people and help them explore their stories at a deeper level.

How did your fitness journey start? What motivated the change? Along with that, what has kept you interested?

 
I haven’t always been interested in fitness. Far from it! In my mid-20s I didn’t take great care of my body at all. I smoked, drank a lot of alcohol and didn’t eat particularly well. In around 2005, me and a few friends decided to start training for a 5k to raise money for a breast cancer charity as we all felt we could do with getting fitter. I’d never done any running before and started off with only being able to run 30 seconds at a time. A few months later I was able to run 5k non-stop. It was a huge achievement and I felt such freedom from being able to just put on some running shoes and get out there.
finding-fitness-jo-fallen-angel-fitness

What has been your biggest challenge in your fitness journey and how have you dealt with it?

Body image has been an issue for me since my 20s, and although it’s not so much of a problem nowadays it can still play on my mind from time to time. As part of my powerlifting training I am currently ‘bulking’, or eating in a calorie surplus, in order to help build strength. This means that I am not as lean as I would perhaps like. There are some days where I can feel a bit self-conscious about it, and I think that’s mainly because we’re surrounded by so many messages about how we ‘should’ look. But, when I see how much stronger I’m getting in each training session and I keep hitting PRs (personal records) in my lifts this helps to reinforce that bulking is helping me right now, and that it won’t be forever.

Have you had any setbacks since starting your fitness journey? If so, how did you deal with them?

A few years ago I strained my IT Band whilst training for a marathon. Despite taking a few months off to allow it to heal, it was never really the same and so I had to find other ways to keep fit. I got into doing fitness DVDs and in mid-2015 I came across a DVD which focused on weight training. I loved the feeling of getting stronger and that’s what spurred me onto continuing with lifting weights.
 

What achievement are you the most proud of?

I am a much different person to who I was about 10 years ago. I’ve been through personal difficulties and done a lot of work on myself to be where I am today. I have a lot more faith in myself and my abilities, and I actually like myself now! It’s been hard work but it has been worth it to come through the other side and start enjoying life and doing the things I love. I should say, that despite the difficult experiences I’ve had I wouldn’t be where I am without them and so I am grateful for having been through them.
 
 

Outside of the physical, what have been some significant changes brought on by your fitness journey?

The biggest change outside of the physical has been my increase in confidence. Getting physically stronger has been a huge boost to the way I feel about myself and how I look. Weight training has helped me to become more disciplined in other areas of my life. I used to put off doing things I was worried about, but now I am more likely to tackle them head-on rather than avoiding them. I’m not the most patient person in the world and lifting weights has also helped me to become much more patient because my strength is going to take time to build and so the work that I put in now is going to pay dividends when it comes to me competing.
 
 

What are you working towards now? What are your goals and dreams, fitness-wise?

I’m currently training for my first powerlifting meet in May 2017. I’m loathe to call myself a powerlifter until I have done my first meet! I have no doubt that I will enjoy the experience so I’d like to compete in further meets afterwards. Perhaps I’m dreaming too big at this stage (is there such a thing?!) but I would eventually like to move from a novice category of lifting to a more ‘professional’ category. Of course that means getting stronger, which I fully intend on becoming!
 
 

What does a typical training week look like?

I train five days a week and have the weekends as my rest days. On Mondays I do front squats and deadlifts, Tuesdays is decline bench press, Wednesdays is an active recovery day which consists of light weights to keep working the muscles but not fatigue them. Thursdays are back squats and Fridays is flat bench press. I have an online coach and he sends me the weights and reps that he wants me to do for each exercise. The weights and reps vary each week as sometimes he’ll want me to do heavier weights and lower reps, and other days I’ll lift lighter weights with higher reps. He will adjust as we go along, depending on how I get on with the different weights. It certainly seems to be working as I’m gradually increasing what I can lift!
I also try to do one 15-20 minute HIIT session each week for heart health. Because I’m training for strength my coach wants me to keep cardio to a minimum, which is fine, but I do like the feeling I get from doing HIIT and feel my heart racing!
finding-fitness-jo-fallen-angel-fitness

What does an average day of eating look like for you? 

In each of my meals I try to get a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. I tend to eat the same things for breakfast and lunch but vary things for dinner. I’m a creature of habit and routine just feels easier for me! I rarely get bored with the same foods.
For breakfast I have oats which are cooked in water with egg whites. I then mix in chocolate protein powder and peanut butter. It probably sounds horrible but it’s actually very nice, honest!
Lunch doesn’t tend to be a big meal as I save most of my calories for later in the day. I normally have some rice cakes with tuna or chicken and also some boiled eggs as protein helps me to feel fuller for longer.
For dinner it’s usually chicken or fish with mixed vegetables and rice, but I vary the sauces so that it doesn’t get boring. I also have a meal a few hours before going to bed which is usually another (smaller) portion of oats with protein powder and peanut butter.
I do have a few squares of dark chocolates most days, and whilst it’s nice to be able to do that I try to stick to nutrient-dense foods as much as possible.
 
 

Do you take any supplements? If so, could you tell us a little about what ones and why? If not, why not?

I use protein powder with my oats at breakfast time, just because there are only so many egg whites and chicken breast I can eat in a day! The protein powder makes it easier for me to hit my protein requirements, but I aim to get the majority of my protein from whole foods.
I also take Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine is a natural substance found in our own bodies, mostly in the muscles, and is said to be one of the best supplements when it comes to building strength and/or muscle. Creatine helps me get a better ‘pump’ when lifting weights and also enables me to push that bit harder when the weights get tough.
I also take an Omega 3 capsule each day for heart and joint health. I do try and get a decent amount of oliy fish but it can be expensive so the capsules help with that. Also, I take a multivitamin in case I’m not getting all the micronutrients I need from my food, and a specific joint health supplement as I want to help preserve my joints and be able to lift for as long as possible.
 
 

What is your favorite exercise? Your least favorite?

My favorite lift is the deadlift. There is something very empowering about being able to lift a dead weight off of the floor! My least favorite is wide-stance squats. They help to build the hips, but they are just so awkward and I’m glad to get them done!
 
 

What do you do if you find your motivation lacking?

I’ve so far not found my motivation to lift to be a problem. However, there are often times when my motivation to get out of bed (in order to lift) can be low! I don’t have a magic formula in these instances, I just tell myself to get out of bed and get ready. To be honest, once I am out of bed and changed then I am ready to go, but leaving a cosy bed can sometimes be hard especially in the cold dark winter months!
 
 

How do you balance fitness with work/life/social/etc? How do you “find the time” to workout? 

I get up at 5am on my training days. I have to train in the morning because I know that when I get home from work all I want to do is sit on the sofa and relax! Finding the time for fitness isn’t so much an issue, but there can be times where blogging and updating my social media can take a lot of time. Whilst I enjoy it, I want to make sure I have a balance between that and spending time with my family. On Sundays my husband and I tend to go on a long walk with Cookie, out in the countryside. This gives us some down-time from everything and the space to just be out in nature and enjoy what’s around us.
 

What are your top 3 tips for someone just starting their fitness journey?

1. Do your research – Whatever area of fitness you want to get into, look on Google for websites which may prove useful. I did this and found lots of great information about things such as the equipment I needed to buy and the sort of lifting programs which would be best suited to me.
2. Find other people who are interested in the same thing – I joined some forums and got chatting to other people. This really helped to motivate me to pursue what I wanted to do, and the other forum members were also able to give me great advice based on their experiences.
3. Don’t worry about what other people may think – I’ve had some unkind comments from so-called friends about me choosing to lift weights and it’s sad when people don’t appear to support your efforts to do something positive. There will always be people who don’t necessarily agree with, or support, your fitness journey. Don’t let those people deter you from what you are passionate about – surround yourself with like-minded people and go for it!
 

Anything else you want to share?

I’m a huge believer that women shouldn’t be afraid to lift heavy weights. There are so many myths out there, for example, that women will get bulky if they lift heavy. That’s just not true as we’re not physiologically able to get bulky due to our low levels of testosterone. Lifting weights can have many physical benefits, such as increasing bone density and minimizing the risks of osteoporosis later in life, and it’s certainly increased my self-confidence. Even if women don’t want to lift as their main source of fitness, I believe that incorporating some lifting into their fitness routine will bring them huge benefits.

 

Sara here again: Jo, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your insights!
Guys, you should definitely go check out Jo and all that she does. She inspires me all the time and I’m sure she will do the same for you!

 

finding-fitness-jo-fallen-angel-fitnessJo is a trainee psychologist from the UK who likes to lift heavy weights and is training for her first powerlifting meet. Her blog merges her love of iron and her interest in the human mind by relating elements of psychology to different areas of fitness in order to help readers get the most out of their fitness journeys.
You can find more from Jo on her blog, InstagramFacebook, Twitter, and YouTube!
Share