Have you been thinking about starting a new fitness routine, or maybe just focusing more on your overall health? This week’s episode, which is part of our Productive Living series, features my conversation with certified personal trainer and CEO of Figured Out Fitness, Jennifer Nagel. Join us as we talk about how a well-rounded fitness routine can contribute to our productivity and making a life that matters.
Paying attention to our health and fitness can improve our productivity
Jennifer Nagel is a certified personal trainer and CEO of Figured Out Fitness. She helps women over 30 who want simple nutrition and fitness solutions so they can be strong, feel energetic and live healthy lives. Her practical advice has been featured in MyFitnessPal, POPSUGAR Fitness, and Well + Good. And when she’s not coaching, you can find her watching sappy Netflix original movies, embarrassing her kids, and planning her next travel adventure with her hubby.
Jennifer actually didn’t start out in the health and fitness field. Although her college degree is in Food Sciences and she has always loved exercise and nutrition, her first career was working in higher education, strategy, and operations.
Jennifer transitioned to her current career after a series of life changes beginning in her early 30s. While going through a divorce and navigating how to be a single mom, she also got a big promotion at work. Even though work promotions are a good thing, with all that Jennifer was going through in her personal life, this promotion and the extra responsibilities took their toll on her. She began feeling stressed out and anxious, and her health suffered as well. Burnout would be an understatement for what was happening to her physically, mentally, and emotionally and she had a bit of a breakdown. After a visit to the doctor, she was diagnosed with high blood pressure at just age 31. This was a shock for her, as she had previously been very healthy.
At that point, she began to get back into fitness and nutrition, which eventually led to coaching and training others. Jennifer made the decision to leave her long-term career and instead start a business online, which wasn’t common at that time.
Eventually, Jennifer remarried. Her husband is also in the fitness industry, and together they lead a life very focused on their health and nutrition. Jennifer focuses on working with busy women all over the world. She really enjoys helping others who are going through similar circumstances and guiding them towards better health.
How regular exercise can improve our productivity
When we talk about fitness, what does that really mean? Jennifer says it’s more than just getting buff. It all boils down to whether or not our bodies can support us in doing the things that are important to our life. Jennifer often defines this in terms of energy, mobility, clarity, and focus.
We all have different passions and things we enjoy doing, but all of those passions require a healthy body and a clear mind so we can focus and do the things that are important.
When Jennifer once asked herself what was truly important to her, it was being a good mom and showing up at work. In order to do those things, she had to start taking care of her health.
When it comes to how meaningful physical fitness is to our productivity, Jennifer divides this into two categories; physical productivity and mental productivity. These are the categories that have the biggest impact on our overall productivity.
When we take care of our bodies, we are more flexible and don’t get injured as often. When we are in pain and not moving well, it can affect every aspect of our life.
When you are mentally productive and exercising, you will have confidence, clarity, and focus, which all come from having a regular physical routine.
Reasonable amounts of exercise can also provide stress relief. It’s a healthy outlet for getting all those feelings of anxiety and stress out. Jennifer considers exercise to be her “me time” when she is focused on doing something just for her that will improve her health.
Body image challenges for women
Jennifer primarily works with women over 30, which is an age group that tends to be focused on how they look and present to others. This generation of women also grew up with imagery of what “good” looks like. There wasn’t the body positivity that there is today, with women of all shapes and sizes portrayed in the media.
When Jennifer is working with her clients, she tries to show them what healthy and fit and “good” actually looks like. Jennifer finds that women, especially those who are high achievers, can become fixated on a size they want to be or a number on the scale, and this is something she tries to discourage. She also wants to discourage her clients from comparing themselves to other women they may see on TV or online, who seemed to have transformed their bodies overnight when in reality weight loss takes time.
Jennifer encourages her clients to really think about what they want and to consider whether they’re willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal. She wants them to have a realistic understanding of where they would like to be and what it will take to get there. For example, do you really want to be a size 2 and do all the work it takes to maintain that? The work may involve diet restrictions and exhausting workouts. Or are you comfortable being a larger size but still being healthy and strong?
Achieving goals through small manageable habits
As women, we all have a lot on our plates; families, careers, friendships….and we may not feel we have time in our day to squeeze in exercise. Jennifer often sees this in her work and uses habit coaching to overcome this.
Instead of having one huge overwhelming goal, she encourages you to take that large goal and break it up into smaller, more manageable habits. She finds that this technique makes it much easier over time to achieve your goals. We are programmed to think that our goals have to be big to be significant, but in reality, the smaller and more manageable the goal is, the better, because then it is something you can do every day without much sacrifice. Jennifer is a fan of the book Atomic Habits by James Clear (check out our discussion of this great book in episode 230), which focuses on this same concept.
The things we do each day, however small they may be, matter much more than the large things we do only every once in a while.
Achieving health and fitness goals on a budget
Start out by doing some simple basic strength training, which can be done at home without investing a lot of money into equipment. There are many exercises you can do, such as squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, rows, push-ups, and chest presses, which are very effective but don’t require a lot of equipment or space to do.
After you’ve mastered the strength training piece, slowly add in a cardiovascular element. By combining the two types of exercise, you can reach your health and weight loss goals, all while in your home without spending much money
Jennifer has a Facebook community called Modern Women Getting Fit which has lots of free information on health and fitness, exercise demonstrations, and community talks.
Heath and fitness recommendations for women as they age
As we age, we will experience hormonal changes which might affect how we feel, how we carry our body weight, and our mobility and flexibility. Strength training is important because it helps with bone density, which we naturally lose as we get older.
Cardiovascular training is also important because you want to stay at a healthy weight and ward off issues such as diabetes and heart disease.
Having a well-rounded health routine as we age, with a focus on mobility and strength training, can really improve our health.
What do you do to get back on track on a day when everything gets away from you?
On days like this, Jennifer tells herself that it’s okay that her day isn’t going the way she wants it to. If her day is overwhelming, she will let herself retreat and maybe take a nap, watch something on TV, or listen to an audiobook. She knows that if she steps away for a couple of hours, things will not fall apart. She also knows that if she doesn’t take care of herself first, nothing else will be taken care of.
Jennifer’s last words for the listener
Congratulations if you are thinking about your health and fitness! Take it slow though, there is no deadline you have to meet. The most important thing is that you are taking a step forward and recognizing that you are the most important investment and resource that you are going to have.
What do you think? Questions? Comments?
Connect with Jennifer
- On Instagram
- On Facebook
- On her website
- Check out Jennifer’s signature 1:1 coaching program, the Body Blueprint
Resources and Links
Articles where Jennifer has been featured
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Royse City, Texas