Jennifer Evans Believes Enjoyment Is Key to Health
In a recent episode of the podcast TaskHuman Talks, host and provider, Jamie Carroll, sat down with fellow provider, Jennifer Evans, to discuss Jennifer’s health and wellness expertise and philosophies. Jennifer is a women’s fitness specialist, clean eating provider, and running coach. And it’s probably no surprise that she’s an avid endurance athlete herself.
The two key takeaways from the conversation are:
- Enjoy what you do and what you eat.
- Start small and build on as you progress.
Jennifer believes these two concepts are essential because they help keep you going: you’re still happy with what you’re doing and eating, and you’re more likely to stay injury-free.
Here are the rest of the highlights from the conversation:
1. Enjoy What You Do
A healthy lifestyle is a lifetime commitment. You need to build your habits into your daily routines. If you’re going to keep up with healthy habits long-term, you need to enjoy what you are doing, Jennifer believes—at least most of the time.
“Any movement you enjoy to do,” she says, “you should do.”
Our lives get busy, and when we add exercise to our to-do list, we can easily forget to like it. We have a tendency to get into a habit of doing what we are “supposed” to do, rather than what we enjoy doing. This forced practice leaves us with negative feelings toward exercise, resulting in resentment toward it and an ongoing cycle.
Jennifer also sees people do this with food too. We cut and restrict until we’re left with a few foods that become boring, or we don’t even like. No wonder sticking to a set diet isn’t fun. She encourages her clients to look at the whole picture when it comes to their wellbeing.
“It’s actually a combination of a lot of factors you should do to actually be happy with your fitness process,” Jennifer says.
You can force yourself to stick to a routine you don’t like for a while, but white-knuckling it through your wellness journey defeats the point. You might get the workout in, but you won’t reap the mental benefits.
2. At-Home Workouts Are Great
Gyms may be seen as the gold standard location for a hard workout, but Jennifer believes you can get one that is as good or better at home. A key reason is you have more time when you’re at home because you don’t have to commute or wait for equipment.
Jennifer does note that it is important to make sure you have a knowledgeable, specialized coach to help you get the most effective workout, tailored to your goals.
“The most important thing is being able to relate to a coach that is going to guide you through what you need,” she says.
To make sure she’s serving her clients well, Jennifer first asks questions to learn about any past injuries, muscle imbalances, and goals. She makes sure she understands her clients’ expectations and she shares her own.
She also makes sure her clients start slowly. Jennifer often only uses body weight exercises at first, so she can see how her clients move and to make sure they perform the movements correctly and safely. But, to be clear, the at-home body weight exercises still give you a great workout.
“I love body weight exercises,” she says. “I think they are very effective.”
Body weight exercises are effective, but they are also accessible to clients who are just starting a fitness journey and might not have invested in lots of equipment yet.
3. Pre- and Post-Natal Exercise Is Important
As a certified pre and post-natal health coach, Jennifer believes pregnancy and the time immediately after are very important to a woman’s overall health. But there’s no one-size-fits-all to pregnancy workouts.
According to Jennifer, the exercises need to depend on the client. With her clients, she makes sure she gets to know them before leading them through exercises. If the client was very active before pregnancy, then it’s possible she can be just as active up to her delivery. A client who is just starting to exercise during pregnancy will need to keep the workouts lighter and shorter.
An important note: Jennifer reminds that women should check with their doctors to make sure they are healthy enough to continue or begin a workout practice during pregnancy.
For Jennifer, women should begin to workout as soon as their doctors clear them after pregnancy, but it’s not for vanity reasons. As a mom herself, Jennifer knows what those first few weeks and months feel like.
“It is very important,” she says. “It’s not just physical, but mental.”
Even light, short workouts will help clear your mind, relieve stress, and increase your energy.
Nutrition is also critical during pregnancy. Jennifer admits that there is a balance to gaining weight when you’re pregnant. You need to gain weight to be able to support a healthy baby and not run yourself down in the process, but you shouldn’t gain too much weight because it can make the pregnancy more difficult.
Her advice is to make sure you’re eating foods that are as nutritious as possible, so avoid the processed foods whenever you can.
She also encourages you to be open with your coach. If your coach is telling you to eat something you don’t like, then share that information. They should be able to find an alternative that appeals to you.
“That person should be very open in telling her trainer her preferences,” Jennifer says.
Again, you should enjoy it.
4. Anyone Can Run
Jennifer would like to put the idea that running isn’t good for you to rest. It’s not true, she says.
“Not only does running help build stronger muscles,” Jennifer says, “it protects from injuries.”
But, she also believes that running is a sport, and while anyone can do it, it would benefit you to have a coach who can lead you through much of the process. A good coach will watch your stride, how you land, and how you run in general. They will also help you find the shoes that will best suit your gait and foot, so that you are well-supported and protected.
Even more than helping you get ready to run, a good coach will make sure you’re avoiding overuse and injury by slowly progressing your distance or pace.
“It’s very progressive,” Jennifer says.
If you are already a runner, and you want to increase your speed, Jennifer recommends speed intervals, running new places, and hills.
“Hills are very, very important to increase your endurance,” she says.
Maybe you think that runners only run as their exercise, but well-trained ones don’t. Jennifer recommends a variety of different fitness modalities to make sure running muscles become stronger, muscle imbalances do not develop, and runners stay injury-free.
Cross-training, flexibility work, and strength training (even upper body) are all important.
“If you have strong muscles, you avoid injuries,” Jennifer says.
So get comfortable with those squats, burpees, and core work!
5. Carbs Are Necessary
Intense exercise, especially endurance sports, drains your energy stores. When the workout is over, you have a 30 minute window of time where you can refill those stores and optimize your body’s recovery.
Jennifer encourages you to include carbs.
“You want to replenish your energy,” she says, “That is why I am ‘Pro Carb.’”
Even something as simple as a quick smoothie will help your body. Here’s Jennifer’s go-to recipe:
- Milk or milk substitute of your choice
- 1 TB peanut butter
- Chia seeds or protein powder, if desired
Then you blend and enjoy. It has enough carbs, protein, and fat to allow your body to refuel without packing on tons of extra calories. She also reminds clients to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Being pro-carb doesn’t mean Jennifer thinks protein has no place. It just depends on what your goals are.
If you’re trying to build muscle, then you’ll need to consume more protein. If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to cut calories.
“The only way to lose weight is to be in a caloric deficit,” Jennifer says.
Having a provider who can help you with both workouts and clean eating means she’ll see the entire picture and know how to help you best.
6. We Have Baggage Around Food
Many people eat more after a stressful day or to soothe feelings. Emotional eating happens, Jennifer says. The important thing is to make sure you just keep trying.
“If you exceed your calories,” Jennifer says, “it’s no big deal. It’s actually no big deal.”
You track calories better the next day and understand it is a process.
But there are things you can do to make success a little easier. Meal prepping and shopping with a list, so you know exactly what you need to buy at the store, can help you reduce impulsive snack purchases.
When you’re sitting down to eat (you are sitting down to eat, right?), only eat until you’re 80% full. You don’t need to stuff yourself. Jennifer pushes the notion that it’s important to eat what you like to eat, and not deprive yourself.
“You should have the things you enjoy in moderation,” she says. “And slow down your eating speed. It’s important to actually enjoy the meal,” she says.
By allowing yourself to eat the foods you crave or enjoy, you can begin to curb your cravings and make better progress toward a weight loss goal.
7. Discipline Is Self-Care
Jennifer has a very disciplined training and self-care routine. She makes sure she eats before she works out and drinks a lot of water. She also doesn’t deprive herself. She loves salty foods and has them in moderation.
When it comes to her workouts, Jennifer has moments where she has to lean on her self-care routine as discipline more, to help push her through.
“I don’t always enjoy my running training,” she says, but she does it anyway, especially when she’s working toward a goal.
Having a qualified coach can be the difference between having the discipline to stay on track for a goal or not, she believes. A good coach will know what you need to do to reach your goal. The plan will be individualized. This is where she sees the TaskHuman app as an invaluable resource for experienced and new athletes.
“I think everybody should try TaskHuman,” she says, “It’s an amazing app.”
Looking to watch the whole podcast? Listen to Jennifer and Jamie chat here. And–if you’re ready to enjoy your workouts and meals all while building the discipline to go after your goals, reach out to Jennifer on the TaskHuman app for a live 1-on-1 session today.