by Thea Wood (@Over40Style)
Jenna Wolfe reminds me of Patrick Swayze’s bank-robbing character Bodhi in the 1991 movie Point Break. Both are thrill seekers — always on the lookout for the biggest wave. She’s surfed, skydived, scaled a 30-foot racing sailboat mast, flown with the Blue Angels, flown a water jet pack, space camped with Richard Branson, and jumped out of a perfectly good helicopter to snowboard down a mountain. Her list of dare-devil feats goes on. (For the record, she’s never robbed a bank.)\
Jenna’s risk-taking isn’t for everyone, but her story is the American Dream. She was born in Jamaica, raised in Haiti, and migrated to New York with her American Jewish mother and Puerto Rican Jewish father. She speaks English, French, and Haitian Creole. With hard work, passion, and a little “right place at the right time” happenstance, she’s realized her dream of being on national TV. Jenna started her career as a local sportscaster (newscaster jobs weren’t available when she graduated Binghamton University) and worked her way up to NBC’s Today Show as a lifestyle and fitness correspondent and NBC News as a national correspondent.
Last November, Jenna announced her decision to leave NBC as she set off to promote her book “Thinner In 30” and build her own brand. At age 42 (with two kids), a major career change would intimidate most. Not Jenna. She’s now dedicating her time to sharing everything she knows about health and fitness through her book and JennaFit club, where members access workout and “pep talk” videos and chat with Jenna weekly. SheSpark is thrilled that Jenna will talk to our fans live on Twitter on May 25th, 8pm CT. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions that came up as I completed the “Thinner in 30” challenge based on her book (read my weekly reports here).
THEA: Going through the program, it became crystal clear that even the thought of changing exercise or eating habits invokes paralysis. Why is that?
JENNA: The older we get, the harder it is to change. We spend our entire lives building up layers of fear, stubbornness, insecurities, habit. Then one day we decide we’re going to change and those layers are suddenly so thick, we can’t peel them back. Change is terrifying. It’s time consuming, often painful, stressful and frustrating. Sometimes it’s easier for us to do nothing and live with whatever bad habit or unhealthy lifestyle we’re trying to change than it is to dive in head first, and take a chance at something
THEA: If an over-40 woman feeling “stuck” in her weight came to you and said she could only muster making one change, which change would you tell her to implement and why?
JENNA: I would probably have her cut out all simple carbs after 6 PM. We spend the majority of our day trying to be good, trying to eat well, trying to stay healthy, trying to make smart choices, so by the time dinner rolls around, we’re exhausted. It’s easy and almost logical to reach for the breadbasket or take comfort in a big warm bowl of pasta. Since our nutritional guard is down and our appetite is up, we make poor choices. We also fall into the trap of mindlessly snacking in front of the TV at night. Save calories by cutting out all simple carbs (table sugar, white bread, cookies, crackers, ice cream, chips…. All of the late night goodies that taste great but treat us terribly).
THEA: Nothing makes me cringe more than the two simple words “Food Diary.” But I did it for you, Jenna. And I have to admit, it worked in spite of my loathing every minute of recording. What’s so scary about it and why is it so necessary to adapt?
JENNA: Accountability. Plain and simple. When you log every piece of food you eat, just like logging every bad habit you’re still trying to kick or counting how many times you reach out to your ex when you know you shouldn’t…, it all adds up to accountability.
From ripped to round Jenna understands it’s harder to get back into shape than to stay in shape.
So how does accountability change you? Forcing yourself to stare at your poor food choices will help you make changes to your diet without somebody telling you to do so. It’s much easier to sneak a handful of M&Ms than it is to write down that you just ate a handful of M&Ms. When you start looking at that list every day and you start writing it down every day, you inevitably stop reaching for it every day. So get over your fear, write it down, stare at it, own it, and make changes based on it.
THEA: What are the most common myths you hear about midlife health and fitness?
JENNA: I always hear people tell me that it’s too late for them to change their bodies. It’s too late to get in shape. It’s too late to tone up. Too late to get fit. I hear that there’s not enough time in the day for them to ever make a dent in their already crazy lives. Here’s the truth: it’s never too late. It may take a little more work to kick start your healthy lifestyle and get your metabolism going. It may take a little more time to find those muscles that haven’t been used in a while…, but it’s never too late. If anything, it’s the perfect gift you can give yourself when going through some semblance of a midlife situation. There’s no downside to getting in shape. There are no negative side effects to getting healthy. It’s free, it’s hot, and everybody’s doing it. ☺