Jennifer Nicole Lee is, yet again, making history. As our only ever 3X cover model, JNL is setting the bar for celebrity fitness models the world over. And this cover couldn’t have gone to a more deserving woman. JNL is more than a beautiful person with an inspiring story: she is a business mogul; a brand; a movement. She is a mother, speaker, author, model, actress… She is inspiring to everyone who meets her. But more than that, Jennifer Nicole Lee is a REAL person. Down to earth, compassionate, kind, understanding. She knows what rock bottom feels like because she once lived there. She understands shame, pain, heartache, and embarrassment. She understands not being happy in her own body.
I DECIDED THAT I DIDN’T WANT TO FEEL THAT WAY. I WANTED TO PROVE TO THE WORLD THAT I COULD BE A MOM AND HAVE A ROCK-HARD BODY.
JNL has been a friend of Status since day one. After meeting Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang at the 2007 Arnold Classic, this iconic beauty stood out in the crowd, and we knew she had to be on the inaugural cover. Fast forward to 2015 and here we are again, celebrating her third cover. With an energy that is simply contagious, this woman is not showing ANY signs of slowing down!
AB: Congratulations on cover number three, Jennifer! How does it feel?
JNL: Thank you! It feels so good; I am so excited about reconnecting with my Status family and fans!
AB: You’re an icon in the fitness industry in so many ways. A published author, fitness guru, actress, cover model and so much more. How did it all start? What prompted you to brand yourself and completely change your life’s direction?
JNL: I had three pregnancies; I lost one and then had my two boys, Jaden and Dylan. Someone took a Polaroid of me. It was awful. I was out of shape physically but it was so much darker than that. I was so unhappy. It was a really bad time in my life. I decided that I didn’t want to feel that way. I wanted to prove to the world that I could be a mom and have a rock-hard body. So I did what many women do: I over-exercised and under-ate. I lost over 80 pounds. And guess what? I was still unhappy. I was skinny. And I felt weak. I wanted to be sexy strong – not skinny. So I started reading. I had never worked out, so I poured myself into learning about it. It was an art form for me.
AB: And how long did it take for you to see the results you wanted?
JNL: Well, the first three months, nothing really happened. I didn’t see any changes at all. At that point, I thought ‘Well, I can either give up or just keep plugging away at this.’ And I did. I put everything into this; I really looked inside myself and just went for it. It was honestly more of a health decision than anything else. I just wasn’t happy. I would look at my before photo and think ‘I’m not going back there.’
AB: Who was your biggest inspiration at that time in your life? Who inspires you now?
JNL: Jane Fonda! I loved what she was about. She empowered women, and I did her workouts at home. She was strong and I loved that. Then there’s Madonna: I love Madonna because she’s just herself. She’s totally unapologetic. So many people: Tony Robbins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump – he really tells it like it is. And of course, I was always inspired by Bob Kennedy.
JANE FONDA! I LOVED WHAT SHE WAS ABOUT. SHE EMPOWERED WOMEN, AND I DID HER WORKOUTS AT HOME. SHE WAS STRONG AND I LOVED THAT.
AB: It’s now your turn – you inspire, empower and educate others every single day. How do you stay positive, day in and day out?
JNL: You know, people think I have a magic wand or something. But I have four important basics that I go back to when things don’t seem to be going my way:
- Always use the power of contrast: It might be a ‘bad’ day for me, but it could be so much worse. And so many people in the world are suffering much worse than I am.
- Is it life or death? If not, then it really doesn’t matter in the long term. In a couple of days, a month… it will be a distant memory.
- Practise gratitude. Every day. Always. I am always thankful for what I have, for the people and relationships that I have in my life. Always.
- Fans and people around me. I really feel a spiritual connection to so many of the people that I meet every day. I am so blessed to have these connections. I love that I can have those connections with people.
AB: Of all your roles, which is your favorite: model, author, actor, educator?
JNL: I would have to say Motivator. I like to wake people up – Jolt them! It’s Life Coaching – it’s so empowering. That’s why my newest project is called JOLT. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org, and it took over ten years to create, but I’m really excited about it. You can get access to everything on one website! Videos, infomercials and so much more!
AB: You have competed in fitness contests in the past; what were your experiences like? What do you think of the process as a whole? Will you compete again?
JNL: I have done a lot of shows. I was really excited at first. But I’m the person that wants everybody to succeed. And the more shows I did, the more I saw the segregation between competitors. I thought ‘Why do we compete with each other?’ I wanted to be in a more non-judgmental community where we would empower and support one another.
As far as competing again goes, I really feel that it would be like I was rewinding my life. That was then, and I have so much more going on in my life. A good friend told me once, ‘Know when to close one door.’ And I’ve done that.
AB: What do your boys think of having a famous mom? What lessons do you think they’ve learned from your experiences?
JNL: They love our life. They know that I’m so much happier. They see it. What’s in the mind, your body will show. And they know that first-hand. I’m turning 40 in June and I’m so excited about it! Experience is the greatest teacher of all. And I love to continue to grow and learn, and I think they are learning that from me. The strongest muscle is the mind.
I like to teach them that your past does NOT equal your future. You have the power to change your circumstances. You can choose to be happy.
AB: What is your ultimate goal? Your dream?
JNL: I want to leave a legacy for women. Women are the most undervalued commodity in our world today. I want to teach women to be proud of the skin they’re in.
WOMEN ARE THE MOST UNDERVALUED COMMODITY IN OUR WORLD TODAY. I WANT TO TEACH WOMEN TO BE PROUD OF THE SKIN THEY’RE IN.
AB: What would you say to the overweight woman who is unhappy in her skin?
JNL: If you have failed, give yourself another chance. Never give up. It’s worth it. It’s not easy but it pays off. Life is a journey to be enjoyed. It’s a gift. And it’s up to you to plan your success.
AB: Thanks so much for your insight and amazing inspiration, Jennifer. Do you have anything in the works to tell our readers about?
JNL: Well, my 12th book is going to be out this fall – 12th! Can you imagine that?! And, as I mentioned my motivational website ‘Jolt of JNL’ is up and running and I’m so excited about it!
AB: We wish you the very best in all you’re doing Jennifer. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us!
JNL: Thank you, Asha!