Read time: 15 minute read
In January this year I was interviewed by Bulk Hackers, they were interested in my philosophy and background and how I overcame chronic fatigue. Here is my interview:
Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Jenifer Lee, I am 36 years, living in Australia. I specialize in women’s health and lifestyle change. My education centres on nutrition, personal training, and naturopathy, as well as energy medicine. I have been training for 20 years and a personal trainer since I was 18.
I own my own holistic health coaching business, which combines multiple health disciplines to offer women health, body and mindset transformations, both online and in person, locally and internationally.
I approach all coaching from a whole-health perspective, aiming to restore balance in both body and mind whilst my clients chase their individual goals. A large portion of my business is in body re-composition, including bodybuilding competitions and prepping for photo-shoots.
Outside of that I enjoy writing, drawing, painting, playing music, travelling and reading. I practice meditation daily and always strive to learn more about the world.
Training wise, I have tried everything from dance to martial arts, cycling, powerlifting, bodybuilding and strongman. I was once a cardio bunny totally addicted to the ‘runners high’ until I learned about the value of lean muscle and eating to help your body grow strong.
Since finding a balance with weight training and nutrition, I haven’t pursued any other forms of exercise as this brings the most benefit for me in both body and mind.
Describe a typical day of training
My training philosophy is based on a combination of powerlifting and bodybuilding, which I’ve developed over the last 10 years of coaching. I focus on weight training and building strength, and prescribe nutrition to fuel that.
For me personally, I follow that same philosophy, but I train for fun now and not with the intention of competing. My training split varies but generally the balance is legs twice per week, back and shoulders twice per week, and chest/arms once per week.
I do some cardio for fun but I don’t prioritise it. My favourite exercises are for the posterior chain; deadlift movements, squats, lunges, and rows.
I like to train alone, as I train clients most days. It’s my time to focus on myself and my own health and well-being.
At the moment, I am training intuitively, since I just recovered from chronic fatigue. I don’t like to set targets for myself and risk over-doing things. I generally remember all the weights I lift anyway and thus don’t log it, though when I had competition goals in the past I logged everything in a diary.
As I am predominantly weight training, I don’t focus so much on measuring heart rate, just session times and energy expenditure, to ensure its consistent week to week.
How do you keep going and push harder?
I don’t necessarily push my limits in training any more. I suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for around five years and only in 2019 was recovered enough to train again. I used to be all about pushing as hard as I could, whereas now I maintain a healthy balance and focus on remaining strong and enjoying myself.
I think in order to stick at training for the long term, you need to spend time finding a routine and discipline that works for you. People tend to love cardio for the ‘high’ you get afterwards, but in my opinion it is fleeting and you have to keep training hard to get it again.
Weight training is the easiest to invest in long term, but you do need to spend some time with a trainer in the beginning, building foundations and a split that works with you in order to really feel the benefits of weight training that you can benefit from in the long term.
Another tip to keep the momentum going is to ignore what’s going on around you. Train for yourself and eat to be strong and healthy, but don’t over commit or put too much pressure on yourself to look a certain way.
A healthy body looks fabulous no matter what percentage of body fat you carry, and I think women sometimes get discouraged by the fact that they don’t look like a professional within the first year.
It takes a long time to build a physique, but your efforts never go unnoticed and once you are consistent enough to feel the benefits, the motivation to continue comes easily!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
If I could start over in my bodybuilding/fitness journey, I would do a lot of things differently. I came up in a time where very low calories and high amounts of cardio were the norm in exercise prescription for women, as well as very restrictive food choices.
I used to eat around 10 different foods as they were considered ‘clean’ foods. I don’t think these methods are beneficial for women at all in the long run (not even really in the short term), so I make sure to pass on better wisdom to my clients, and also ensure I never go down that road again myself!
My goals for the future are just to remain strong and healthy, and focus my energy on building my business. I love sharing my knowledge and supporting women in their journeys to becoming healthier, stronger, happier women.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I train consistently in a split that works for me, I have never been injured but in saying that I have had a lot of postural issues that took a lot of correcting along the way. I don’t push beyond what I consider to be good technique, because doing that only sets you backward in the long run.
I have been out of training for a period of about four years due to chronic fatigue, and I managed that through natural therapies and light training, until I was well enough to build my training back up again.
I think listening to your body and training smart is the key to longevity in training, and many people get caught up in their egos and miss the signals their body is sending.
I generally sleep around six to seven hours per night, and this is plenty for me. I started turning my WiFi and phone off at night, and avoiding lights after dark as a management tool for my chronic fatigue, and since recovering I maintained this habit as I sleep much deeper, and wake up feeling rested.
When I travel, I either cram my sessions in on the days I am home (if I’m away only for a weekend), or if its longer I either have active rest or do full body sessions only a few days per week. It really depends on where I am and whether a gym is easy to get to.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
My diet consists of primarily whole foods, I don’t like to eat processed foods, mostly because my body doesn’t agree with it and after battling health issues, I have learned that low-inflammatory nutrition is essential for optimal mind and body health.
The only supplements I use are a Evolve WPI (Whey Protein Isolate) and glutamine. My favourite brand is Evolve by Australian Sports Nutrition (all products), and NoWay protein by ATP Science. I leave the rest to my food. In times of stress, I supplement with magnesium and zinc, and around my cycle I take a liver supplement to support detoxification. I take a more specific approach these days, rather than taking all the traditional training supplements, as I find it more beneficial for me now.
What has inspired and motivated you?
I am inspired by learning more about the mind and body, and inspired by supporting others to see and experience their own potential. This is what keeps me going and what I invest all my energy in.
I am inspired by music and other health professionals as well. Learning new information and applying this to my business and myself is key to keeping me inspired and motivated towards the future.
Music wise, I listen to a broad range, for training it’s mostly 90’s RnB, but in my free time it’s Soul music and a lot of world music. I read a new book roughly every two weeks, and frequently listen to podcasts on health and well-being.
My favourite books to read include Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, and You Are The Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza, Mind over Medicine by Lissa Rankin, and anything by Paolo Coelho, as he has so much wisdom in his stories. I actually have a list of my favourite books in the ‘free resources’ section of my website.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
If you want to improve yourself, the best advice I could give is to find a mentor. When I started out, the Internet was new and there was not much knowledge going around. Progress was much slower and in most cases, a result of trial and error.
Doing your research into a good mentor will fast-track your journey in ways you can’t imagine, and I think skipping this step is a big mistake. Self-research, YouTube, and free online programs just don’t cut it (especially if you have the added difficulty of a health condition, or a history of disordered eating).
I often think to myself, imagine how different my life would be if these people were around when I was younger!
I have had at least 10 significant mentors in my health and fitness journey, including a psychologist, naturopath, chiropractor, homeopath lifting coach, and energy medicine practitioners. I learned a lot from them and as much as it costed me money, I would not have the knowledge or health that I do now had I not learned from them.
The biggest mistakes I find are those who self-prescribe strict eating regimens, try to train way ahead of their training age, not paying attention to their body signals, underestimating the importance of eating healthy food, and not eating enough calories to fuel their training.
Are you taking on clients right now?
I am currently at capacity with my coaching, as it is all one-on-one and I only have so much time every day to commit to my business! I do have a waiting list so when spots open up, I offer them to the next person available.
To go on the waiting list, I have a short interview process that I run through, to ensure that person will be a good ‘fit’ for my coaching. I think it’s important to make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to expectations, before beginning any coaching journey.