A Bit of History
Throughout Jeff’s entire adult life, he’s had the desire to be in amazing shape. For 18 years, he traveled all over the United States working the comedy club circuit, and part of his somewhat regular routine during that time was heading outside for 45-minute runs. It was a great way to explore each city he visited while simultaneously getting in a workout. He also dabbled in weight lifting here and there, but just as it is with the rest of us, exercise alone wasn’t enough to achieve the results he really wanted. Nutrition, proper rest and consistency were the missing pieces to the puzzle.
The Way We Roll…
Jeff and I have been together for many years now. During that time, I have been his girlfriend, fiancé and now his (very lucky!) wife. And through it all, per his request, I have also taken on the role of his nutrition and fitness coach. It was a delicate balance to figure out in the beginning, but we both realized that if we maintained the utmost respect for one another in these secondary roles we could make it work. Nowadays, we don’t even think about it. I do most of the cooking, make suggestions when ordering in restaurants, and schedule our workouts. I love doing it and he seems to like having it done!
Don’t get me wrong – he and I have shared many ice cream sundaes and pizzas over the years! We both LOVE food and love to cut loose every once in a while. It’s a big game of balance and we are both committed to making healthy lifestyle choices the majority of the time. Truth be told, oftentimes he encourages me to stay healthy and fit almost as much as I encourage him, whether he realizes it or not!
Achieving Physical Fitness Greatness in the Past
As you may recall from the About Me section of this site, Jeff had supported me throughout my fitness competition years in such a great way, that he ended up with what you might call “second hand fitness results.” A lot of the time, he ate the same foods I ate and became my favorite workout partner. I felt very lucky that I had a man in my life that was up for doing such a thing! We also trained like crazy for our wedding back in 2012, which was very challenging due to our busy travel schedule, but it was all absolutely worth it in the end. Jeff even had a tour of Australia during that time which added to the crazy, but we stuck together and stayed on track each and every day. In the end, we both reached our goals with 2 weeks to spare!
Admittedly, however, over the four months that followed, the weight slowly came back.
Cut to February 5th, 2015…
On this day, Jeff was 18% body fat and 183 pounds:
Jeff was now extremely motivated to get in incredible shape and he was ready to put in the work, but we needed to do it right. It was important to not get in a big hurry and put him on a plan that was so strict that he’d end up rebounding once he reached his goal and dive head first into a food binge fest all while refusing to set foot in a gym for weeks on end due to massive burnout! (Phew, that was a mouth full!) So instead, we began his journey by just cleaning up his diet a bit all while hitting the weights hard and heavy. And February through May that’s just what we did.
The Food for Phase 1
Here is a sample meal plan of what is day of food typically looked like:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with protein powder and walnuts added. Some days he would have egg whites scrambled with vegetables instead of protein powder.
Snack: Green shake made with almond milk, frozen spinach, ½ banana, Udo’s oil, berries and protein powder + 2 Brazil nuts on the side
Lunch: Quinoa, black beans, salsa and sautéed green beans
Snack: Sliced apple with almond butter or Ezekiel toast with avocado
(Pre-show meal at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas)
Dinner: Fish or chicken, shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad with no croutons/dressing on the side, and roasted green vegetables
After show snack: Protein muffins made with protein powder and chia seeds. He also had some sort of small treat at this time, which was usually a small handful of M & M’s or a couple squares of dark chocolate.
- The goal was to stick to a mostly plant-based diet with minimal processed foods. “Quality” took priority over “quantity” during this time.
- We also allowed for a little flexibility; when he was really starving, his portions were a little bigger.
- Also, when special occasions occurred, such as his birthday on April 18th, he cut loose for a day or two to celebrate.
- I always kept bowls of grape tomatoes, sweet peppers and berries front and center in the fridge to nosh on as he wished throughout the day.
- Water. Lots and lots of water. But Jeff hates drinking water. If he had it his way, the only liquid he’d consume all day would be coffee! So, I bought 4 large reusuable water bottles, and each day, I filled them up and set them out on the kitchen counter where he would see them several times a day. To help even more, I added sliced citrus fruits and mint leaves to the water to give a hint of flavor. These tricks worked and Jeff got in the habit of drinking more water. As a result, he not only felt more energized, he felt less hungry and his skin started to look better, too.
The Physical Side of Things for Phase 1
Here is a sample workout plan that he followed during that time:
Monday: Lift weights + 22 mins HIIT cardio (High Intensity Interval Training)
Tuesday: 30 – 40 mins moderate intensity cardio
Wednesday: Lift weights + 22 mins HIIT cardio
Thursday: 30 – 40 mins moderate intensity cardio
Friday: Lift weights + 22 mins HIIT
Saturday: Active Rest – 1 hour walk (round trip) to Starbucks in Las Vegas
Sunday: Early show – Rest Day
- If he missed a workout during the week for whatever reason, he would make it up on Saturday.
- Jeff had one week off per month from shows, so we would spend that week at home in Los Angeles. That week was usually jam-packed with meetings with managers and agents, appointments and spending time with family, so workouts were more challenging to fit in his schedule. Therefore, on days he only had 45 mins to workout, weight lifting took priority over cardio.
- Speaking of priorities: To properly recover from workouts, sleep became a top one; a challenging concept for a man who has endless energy and who’s brain never stops! I reemphasized on many occasions that in order to make all of that time spent in the gym really count, he needed to tell himself that 8 hours of sleep was now the goal. Sometimes he was able to do it, sometimes he wasn’t. A couple of things that helped him relax and fall asleep faster, though, were drinking a nighttime tea and utilizing a white noise app on our phones.
A New Challenge in the Mix
Just as he did with me back when I was in training, I ate almost exactly what Jeff did and we also worked out together most of the time, too. That is, until I got pregnant with my twins in early March and started experiencing extreme cravings, food aversions, exhaustion and evening nausea. My food choices became very different and my workouts were shortened, had less intensity and were much less frequent. But you can read all about that craziness here!
At this point, I usually cooked two completely different meals for us. Jeff was now faced with the added challenge of watching me eat some foods that he really loved but would not help him achieve his fitness goals, such as cheese sandwiches and graham crackers, so his determination and focus had to be cranked up a notch! Oftentimes, he would just have one bite of what I was eating, which eased the tension a bit.
Since there were many days that I felt too tired to hit the gym with Jeff, I used a fitness journal to write-out his workout for him each time he lifted weights. And since he’s extremely self-motivated, I never had to worry about any slacking off. In fact, Jeff regularly reported back drenched in sweat with new PR’s noted in the journal.
By the end of May, Jeff weighed 174 pounds and had put on about 4 – 5 pounds of muscle.
Phase 2: Time to Train Like a Competitor
It was a done deal. Jeff was set to shoot his next special, Unhinged in Hollywood, on August 19th and 22nd , which would then air on NBC on September 17th. Jeff made up his mind that we was ready to take his diet and training to the next level with the goal of looking better than ever by the time he was scheduled to tape the special. A hefty task to take on, considering how much work and stress is already involved in prepping for such an important event.
Jeff was now floating around 14% body fat, so in order to get down into the single digits in ten weeks, it required taking some extreme measures; not something I typically encourage people to do since keeping weight off after long stretches of food deprivation is very, very difficult to do. I communicated my trepidation with Jeff, but ultimately we decided to push on with the agreement that once he reached his goal, he would allow me to help him transition back into a life with more food flexibility all while maintaining the new body he had earned. If I could go back to my competition days, I would have hired a coach to help me do the same thing after each fitness competition.
The Food for Phase 2
At this point, most of Jeff’s meals included white fish, scallops, shrimp, protein shakes, green vegetables, oatmeal and sweet potatoes. In the evenings, however, he also had a tablespoon of almond butter plus 5 M&M’s! Sounds silly, right? But yes, he literally counted out 5 of those little candies each and every night, not any less or any more. It was important to me that he enjoy this little treat on a regular basis just to help keep him sane.
Phase 2 Workout Schedule
Monday: Lift weights + at least 50 minutes of cardio
Tuesday: At least 50 minutes of cardio
Wednesday: Lift weights + 22 mins HIIT cardio
Thursday: At least 50 minutes of cardio
Friday: Lift weights + 22 mins HIIT cardio
Saturday: At least 50 minutes of cardio before going in for a much needed massage
Sunday: Early show – Rest Day
- Around the last week of July, his body really started fighting us and his fat loss plateaued. When this happens it’s time to start mixing things up. We then started cycling his carbs where some days he would eat more than others, and in the gym, we utilized different lifting techniques such dropsets, supersets/giant sets (with heavy weight and low reps), and Tabata training. His cardio sessions grew longer and longer, too.
The Mental Aspect
As mid-August approached, Jeff grew more and more exhausted and I, of course, became more and more pregnant, which meant I was beyond exhausted, too. But there was no way that either of us were willing to throw in the towel – Jeff had come too far and we had to keep going. So we continued to work together as a team and take it one day at time.
It helped to take progress photos so Jeff could see that his hard work was paying off. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the results when just looking in the mirror; we tend to focus on the remaining flaws rather than the incredible improvements.
Show Day – at last!
Jeff arrived at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on that Wednesday morning weighing a svelte 158 pounds, approximately 9% body fat… and I, being 7 1/2 months pregnant with two baby boys, waddled in behind him! Here’s a funny little secret that I’ve never revealed until now: we both weighed the same amount on that day!
The tapings on both August 19th and 22nd were a huge success. You can read all about it here!
Continuing the Fitness Journey
Following the taping, Jeff took a couple of weeks to enjoy some of the foods he had missed and rest his tired body. We went out for a couple of nice meals to celebrate my birthday which is at the end of August and Jeff flew up to Iowa to help Kenna, his youngest daughter, get settled at her new college.
In early September, Jeff decided he was ready to get back to the gym and jump on that wild dieting train once again, all while I approached 9 months of pregnancy. This time the plan was to take off the last few pounds to achieve the complete six-pack, and once that was done, he and I would do a photo shoot together pointing at each other’s extreme bellies! We scheduled the photo shoot for October 12th, our 3rd wedding anniversary.
Jeff stuck to the plan, but that photo shoot never happened. Reason being, my water broke at 6:00pm on October 10th and our two boys, Jack and James, were born that following morning. So instead of celebrating our anniversary with a photo shoot, we celebrated in a hospital room sipping champagne and holding our new baby sons (don’t worry – not at the same time!)
I’m happy to say almost six months later, Jeff has managed to keep a vast majority of the fat off and has settled into a new way to live and eat and exercise to maintain his incredible results! This time, there’s no going back.
Thanks for reading!