In 2004, at age 18, when other girls sign up for college classes or flirt with marriage, Amanda Ennett enlisted in the Marines. The California native spent the next five years in the corps. During two combat tours in Iraq, Amanda developed a passion for lifting weights.
She settled back in her California home as an inactive reservist. Amanda sought a new challenge in physique competitions. In 2009, she competed in her first NPC bikini show. She caught on quick, won her second show. Little did she know it, but she was actually two months pregnant with her second son. During her pregnancy, Amanda became AFAA certified in group fitness and taught Pilates and Yoga until the 8 1/2-months mark.
Amanda also lifted weights and walked on a regular basis until her delivery date. After the pregnancy, Amanda once again aimed for competition shape. She competed in her third show at 115 pounds and 16-percent body fat.
Now, a 26-year-old mother of three, Amanda loves lifting heavy with the big boys, food gawking on healthy recipe blogs, and reading as much fitness information as she can. She hopes to put all that knowledge into action in 2012 bikini competitions.
The Marines motivated Amanda to live up to the tagline: "The few, the proud, the Marines." She believes her husband, also a Marine, deserves more than an out-of-shape Plain Jane. She's driven, inspired and a little crazy about living fit!
Q & A With Amanda:
Q: Congratulations on winning the 2011 Military Challenge! What inspired you to enter the challenge?
I saw someone who was entering on Facebook and thought, "Why not! I have nothing to lose but love handles!"
Q: How surprised are you at the extent of your transformation?
I'm more amazed every day. I haven't stopped making progress, and I'm seeing new lines and cuts everyday. This is the best I've ever looked, which is cool because I had a baby a year ago! I was working out and eating well before he was conceived, though.
Q: You obviously stayed motivated throughout the contest. Any noteworthy or unique tips for our readers?
My family is a huge motivation, because we all live fit. However, a primary factor was my schedule. Every day, I wake up, get my children ready, take my eldest to school, and head straight to the gym. I get at least an hour to an hour and a half in before taking my youngest home for his nap. Our routine has become so solid and consistent that it's hard to break the habit without feeling off. I heard that it takes 28 days to create habit - gruel through it and do it!
Q: Were there any moments you wanted to give up? If so, how did you push through them and continue training?
I love training! I've never had a problem getting to the gym and dominating my workout. My hardest temptations are sweets. I have a huge sweet tooth and cave easily. I found that if I just give in, I can move on and get back on track easier than if I were to sit and think about resisting. Resistance, for me, is futile - and exhausting!
Q: What was the single hardest aspect of your transformation?
Definitely nutrition! But I know nutrition is key.
Q: Any helpful tips for readers who might be struggling with the same issue?
I cannot count calories. It makes me crazy and doesn't work. I think the best strategy, the one that sets you up for a lifestyle change, is to eat mindfully - always be aware of better choices. Don't restrict yourself, because again, it will drive you insane. I also found that if I eat a little off plan on the weekends, then I am less likely to stray throughout the week. Food prep and getting my family on board with my meals is also vital to long-term success.
Q: A lot of people are going to read this and think,
"Nah, I couldn't do this. Not me." Tell them why they're dead wrong.
Why not? Why not you? What do I have that is any different from anyone else? I've had two babies, one who brings home humongous bags of Halloween candy. I have a husband who loves to go out for delicious burgers and sushi. I have cellulite ... or at least I did until I worked like crazy to get rid of it. I have commitments that take up my precious time and energy. I have an unhealthy obsession with whipped cream, chocolate and Facebook. We all can do it - you just have to commit!
People need to realize that their body fat didn't appear overnight and it will not go away quickly. Building muscle takes time and effort. Don't procrastinate on your life and health because sickness and death will not procrastinate on you.
Q: Now that you've tackled this fitness goal, what's next? Want to get shredded like cheese, ripped like paper or climb Mount Olympus? Fight pirates? Build a fitness career, perhaps?
I would love to be on the cover of Oxygen Magazine. Or work a booth at the Arnold Classic. While I aspire to do fitness modeling, I will continue to build muscle and stay lean to be a role model for my friends, family and children. I want to help people! Currently, I'm going to school for Exercise Science and I hope to get an internship in Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab. I want to make America a healthier place!
Amanda Ennett's Fitness Regimen
I believe nutrition is the most important aspect to obtain a healthier, fitter body. With that being said, one should still be able to enjoy sinful foods they love. I live by the rule of 90 percent mindful healthy eating and 10 percent guilt-free indulgence. However, always remember that you can't out-train a bad diet.
My family and I primarily eat a variety of lean meats and vegetables. We also eat a moderate amount of fruit such as berries and apples. Unless we're eating out, we don't eat grains, except hot cereals like oatmeal, bran or cream of rice. Personally, I've given up most dairy products. When I want a sweet treat, I bake my own Stevia-sweetened protein desserts or indulge in dark chocolate.
Meal 1: Breakfast
Vanilla Almond Milk
Meal 2: Post Workout
Meal 3: Lunch
Meal 5: Dinner
Go heavy or go home! I love lifting heavy and doing plyometrics. I hardly do cardio. Exceptions: biking for five minutes before leg day or using the elliptical just because I feel like getting restless energy out. Before a show - or in this case, about four weeks before the challenge end - I began doing intervals on a treadmill twice a week for 30 minutes or less.
I work abs somewhat randomly. I'm a firm believer that abs are made in the kitchen, but I do like moves like the captain's chair, knee tucks on a stability ball, planks and V-ups. I taught Pilates and yoga, so I'm a firm believer in stretching, core strength and balance. I work legs twice per week because they need the most attention.
Squats4 sets of 10 reps
Lunges3 sets of 20 reps
Leg Extensions3 sets of 12 reps
One-Legged Squats3 sets of 10 reps
Calf Press3 sets of 20 reps
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown3 sets of 10 reps
Seated Rows3 sets of 10 reps
Bent-Over Barbell Rows3 sets of 10 reps
One-Arm Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows3 sets of 12 reps
Back Extensions3 sets of 10 reps
Alternating Dumbbell Curls4 sets of 10 reps
Skull Crushers3 sets of 10 reps
EZ-Bar Curls4 sets of 10 reps
Triceps Pressdowns3 sets of 10 reps
Cable Rope Hammer Curls3 sets of 15 reps
Overhead Triceps Extensions3 sets of 10 reps
21s2 sets of 21 reps
Seated Leg Curls3 sets of 15 reps
Straight-Leg Barbell Deadlift4 sets of 10 reps
Sumo Squats3 sets of 10 reps
Lying Leg Curls3 sets of 10 reps
Ab Machine3 sets of 50 reps
One-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift (shown with kettlebell)3 sets of 10 reps
Overhead Shoulder Press3 sets of 10 reps
Upright Rows4 sets of 10 reps
Lateral Raises3 sets of 10 reps
Bent-Over Lateral Raises3 sets of 10 reps
Military Press3 sets of 15 reps
A nutritionally sound, whole-food diet is the way to go! Supplements can definitely help the muscle-building process, especially when they are safe, natural and effective. And on days when I need a pick-me-up, I'm all for trying my husband's pre-workout stimulant!
I love getting freebie goodies at bodybuilding shows, 5k races or health-and-fitness exhibits. I'm a sucker for supplements, especially when they're free or come with pamphlets to read - there's that knowledge-thirsty nerd again!