Some people seem like they were born to live the life they're living. Jen Jewell is a perfect example. She didn't stumble into fitness or find it after years of inactivity.
Her love for weightlifting began when she was in high school. At 16, she saw a picture of Monica Brant and knew that fitness was her future. At 17, she knew that someday, she'd compete in a fitness competition.
Her first job was as a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. Jen seems fated for the fit life.
Although she's always been active and concerned with her shape, Jen also dealt with a tragedy that caused some unhealthy life changes.
The story of her fitness journey is rocky, but it has a pro ending.
Read on to find out more about Jen's wake-up call, her transformation, her training plan, and the realization of her high-school dreams.
Jen Jewell Fit 360
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Throughout high school, Jen was active and worked as a successful personal trainer. When she moved to southern California for college, she brought her fit lifestyle with her. But things changed when tragedy came knocking. "My best friend was killed in a car wreck. I was in SoCal, I didn't have any friends or family nearby, and I was alone," Jen says. "I don't want to say I got depressed, but I was not my full self."
To deal with her pain, Jen made new friends, started going out for dinner and desserts, and stopped training hard. "I wanted to take my mind off the fact that I had just lost my best friend."
All the food and socializing added up. Over a year or two, Jen went from 118 pounds to more than 160. "It just slowly crept on," she says. "My body fat was up to 35 percent."
At first, she didn't really pay attention to the weight she had gained. But when Jen stepped on a scale at the doctor's office, she realized she needed a change. "When I saw the number, I thought, 'Oh, that's why I have to buy a size 11 now.' I didn't need bigger pants because my legs were super muscular; I was just kind of a beefcake."
So, Jen got serious about her diet and her training. Because she was a personal trainer, she knew she had to start taking her own advice. "I stopped going out to eat every night. I'd just save it for the weekend," explains Jen, "and I only had dessert once per week."
Instead of going cold-turkey and putting herself on a strict contest-prep diet, Jen knew that she needed a nutrition plan that she could maintain.
She also kicked her training up a few gears. Instead of getting on the same elliptical for an hour like she had been doing, she made every minute count. Her change back into the fit body she'd had before was gradual. "It took 3-5 years for me to get down to 22 percent body fat," she recalls.
When she got there, Jen decided to do a contest. "I told myself I needed to do a show. I'd wanted to do one since I was a teenager. I knew that if I didn't try, I'd regret it forever." She set the date to begin her preparation exactly 12 weeks out from a show. And thus she began her career as a competitor.
"It's been an interesting journey," Jen says. "I want to be my best me, so I'm always striving to be the best possible version of myself. Being strong, fit, and healthy is important to me."
Now, with her online training business, Jen provides personal training to people all over the world. "I get emails from people in Australia who say they've gotten great results from my leg workout. It's really exciting for me and is a huge motivation factor."