Transformations Series: Jennifer dos Santos
We love sharing fitness transformation stories because each one describes a uniquely inspired personal journey. For Jennifer dos Santos, the change began in quite a big way: when she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and began taking medicine that robbed her of her vibrant energy.
She was diagnosed 9 years ago and immediately experienced a change in energy â€“ she was left with none. Thoroughly lethargic, her vitality was on par with that of an old lady. She couldn't even walk across the street! Jennifer grew up dancing ballet 4-6 times a week and had always been active, but now she felt bloated, shy about her body, and badly overall.
This was no way to live life, and Jennifer didn't want to live with no energy for the rest of hers. She remembers being winded walking up the stairs one morning. At that moment, she decided she could take things into her own hands and not use the medication as an excuse for not feeling well. That afternoon, she went to the gym and did her first workout. Soon enough, she fell deeply in love with weight training.
Today, her tumor - the biggest roadblock to her fitness transformation, but also the initial reason for it - has shrunk. Her doctor recently told her it is so small that it isn't even showing up on MRIs anymore. A large contribution of the shrinkage is due to her active and healthy lifestyle, doctors have told her.
Jennifer's fitness transformation changed her life in many ways, and it all began with the discovery of her love of bodybuilding. This led to a training certification, where she met her husband, who is also a personal trainer. They have since opened up a personal training business. The internal changes of her fitness transformation are equally as inspiring. When Jennifer describes them, her understanding of the power of what's possible truly shows.
â€œInside you feel self-confident, sure of yourself, and proud that you can do whatever you set your mind to. Accomplishing your goals and seeing the changes from your hard work gives you a sense of satisfaction that you can't get anywhere else."
Throughout her fitness transformation, Nicole Wilkins has been one of her biggest inspirations. Nicole placed very low in her first competition, but she never gave up. Now she is a four time Olympia Champion! (And 6 Pack Athlete!) Jennifer's personal training clients are another huge source of inspiration for her, as well as seeing other women in the gym lifting heavy weights. (Strong women inspire us, too: check out The Power of Girls Who Lift.)
Jennifer is currently in the off-season and bulking to gain muscle. Right now she weightlifts 6 times a week, but she adds high intensity cardio twice a week during prep training. In her off-season, she tries to pack on a lot of good, quality muscle, so she eats more carbs and calories than she does during competition prep. She follows a specific meal plan which includes: egg whites, chicken, 99% lean turkey or ground beef, tilapia, protein powder, oat bran, sweet potatoes, potatoes, brown rice, veggies and oranges. During prep she cuts the carbs down and adds protein. One of the keys to Jennifer's success is that every day, she measures out her food and puts it into containers.
â€œI bring my food with me everywhere I go in my 6 Pack Bag."
Jennifer is passionate about clean eating and loves to educate others about the ways that healthy food can be both delicious and filling. Jennifer notes, â€œAfter your first week or two of eating clean, your body no longer craves the sugar or junk food. You have more energy and feel better overall."
â€œI remember seeing a 6 Pack Bag at a nutrition store and marveling at how convenient and cool it was. I love bags with a lot of little pouches and compartments. I knew that it would fit my lifestyle and be a huge help with my nutrition."
With the help of her 6 Pack Elite Voyager Backpack, Jennifer is always prepared with food on hand. Many people struggle with cheating on their meal plans, and Jennifer is no stranger to that. But when she is able to keep her food with her at all times, she can fuel her body with good, clean choices every two and a half to three hours.
In addition to bodybuilding competitions and her job as a personal trainer, Jennifer is also passionate about music and ballet. She earned her master's degree in Flute Performance and has been able to travel the world for free while performing.
â€œI am a professional musician and travel around the world with a singer, and my 6 Pack Bag is always there packed with my food."
Ballet, however, has had a more direct influence on her fitness. Her 18 years of experience aided her fitness transformation in two distinct ways: it helped her stage presence during bodybuilding competitions and helped her gain an awareness of her body that ensures she completes every bodybuilding exercise with correct form.
Jennifer firmly believes that anything is possible if you have the will and motivation. Her advice is simple: â€œIf you have not been active, find an activity that you enjoy and start doing it three times a week. Start slowly and build from there."
â€œThe key is to start the change and stick with it during those first two weeks. Take it one day at a time."
Jennifer's long-term goal is to be an IFBB Pro Figure Competitor, and her next competition will be in March or April of 2016. She plans to compete in Nationals in 2016 and continue improving her figure until she is awarded her pro card.
6 Pack Bags is pleased to have played such a positive role in Jennifer's fitness transformation and we applaud her dedication to her many passions. We believe she'll succeed admirably in her journey to her pro card, but wish her the best of luck anyway!