Jennifer Messer: Rewriting the Health Narrative

Jennifer Messer

Jennifer Messer’s life pivots on a poignant memory from her teenage years: the sudden and shocking death of her father from a heart attack at just thirty-nine. With a cloud of questions enveloping her – ‘Why did this happen? Would her genetic legacy seal a similar fate for her?’ – Jennifer’s quest for answers unraveled a complex web of factors influencing cardiovascular health.

What began as personal introspection rapidly transformed into a crusade for holistic well-being. One profound moment of self-realization, upon seeing a photograph of herself on the brink of following her father’s ill-fated footsteps, marked the start of her transformative journey. Tipping the scale at her heaviest and engulfed by fatigue, she resolved to rewrite her health narrative, not just for herself but for her family. From thereon, Jennifer’s life intertwined with the mission of fostering a health-centric environment for her loved ones.

As a registered and listened dietician and expert nutritionist, Jennifer’s vision today echoes her relentless spirit and hard-earned wisdom: optimal health is achievable, and the transformative power of a healthful lifestyle is irrefutable. Top of Form

In this Interview with Exeleon Women, Jennifer Messer shares about her journey, her fitness ideology, and her vision going forward.

How would you describe your philosophy on health and fitness?

My philosophy embraces a holistic approach to health and fitness for women, recognizing the interconnected dimensions of physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. I prioritize physical activity and nutrition in my professional practice, viewing them as two pillars with far-reaching impacts. This symbiotic relationship between mental and physical wellness is at the heart of my approach. Balance is essential in my philosophy, as extremes hinder long-term success and overall health. I uphold evidence-based practices, rooted in scientific rigor, ensuring that my strategies are well-founded and current. Individuality is essential, and I customize and tailor my approach to my client’s unique needs, preferences, and circumstances.

My philosophy is firmly rooted in the belief that women should view their well-being as an essential aspect of self-care that is non-negotiable. Allocating time for the preparation of nourishing meals and engaging in daily physical activity isn’t an act of selfishness. On the contrary, it’s a profound commitment to becoming the optimal version of yourself, ultimately benefiting not just you but also your entire network of relationships – from spouses and children to family, friends, and colleagues.

By prioritizing these self-care practices, women empower themselves to operate from a position of strength, both physically and mentally. When your own health is nurtured, it reverberates positively throughout your daily interactions and responsibilities, allowing for a more vibrant and engaged presence in all aspects of your life.

Talk to us about your growing up years. What is your earliest association with fitness?

From my earliest days, I was surrounded by the exuberance of my three brothers. This nurtured my love of fitness, which took root in outdoor exploits—scaling trees, catching frogs, and pedaling my bike through our neighborhood. When the time came to embark on the organized path of fitness, tap dance, gymnastics, and ice skating were my introduction. But baseball was my true passion. In Little League, I clinched the title of MVP, awakening my competitive fire. I grew to understand that in movement I experienced true joy.

What prompted your interest and subsequently your foray into the health and nutrition space?

My journey into health and nutrition has been a lifelong one that began with a personal tragedy. When I was young, my father passed away from cardiovascular disease at the age of 39. This experience shaped my identity and filled me with resilience and but also a strong curiosity for the role of genetics and lifestyle in chronic disease.

As a young mother, I saw a candid snapshot of myself and realized that I was standing at the edge of the same fate that had befallen my father. I was overweight, exhausted, and unhealthy. This reflection of reality motivated me to make a change.

Determined to be a role model for my daughters, I made gradual, sustainable changes to my nutrition and resurrected my love for fitness and sports. I went on to shed more than sixty-five pounds and markedly improved my health.

This pledge to my health and well-being marked my entry into the health and nutrition field. I was then prompted to return to school to become a dietitian and then completed a master’s degree in exercise science strength and conditioning. Now, fueled with knowledge, I am compelled to  help other families avoid the devastating effects of losing a loved one prematurely and help people live full and active lives.

As a registered dietician and fitness expert, how do you help your clients achieve optimal results?

One of the most important underpinnings of the work I do with my clients is to first work with them to identify the ‘why’ behind their desire to embark on a health journey. This is a critical first step in laying the groundwork for success in any health journey. It is their reason for making changes, and it will help them stay motivated when things get tough. When clients understand their “why,” they are more likely to make choices that are aligned with their goals.

Another crucial aspect of helping clients succeed is providing them with accurate information that clears up any misunderstandings or confusion about diet and exercise. This field can be overwhelming, particularly with so many unsubstantiated online resources, but relying on scientific research is the key to finding reliable answers that can be put into practice and get clients the results they dream about achieving.

Creating a safe space for open dialogue is essential in building a healthy client-coach relationship. Encouraging clients to openly discuss their issues, progress, and roadblocks helps me identify obstacles and work closely with them to develop strategies for effective navigation.

Extrinsic accountability is often necessary for clients in the early stages of their journey. By providing structured support and consistent accountability, I aim to encourage the development of intrinsic motivation within my clients, driving them toward their health and fitness goals. Ultimately my goal is for clients to outgrow the need for my services.

What would be your advice for someone just starting to lead a healthier lifestyle and incorporate Fitness?

Embarking on a healthier lifestyle is always a good decision, no matter what your age. It’s important to seek support and not be afraid to ask for help. As a woman who grew up in a predominantly male household, I believed that self-reliance was the key to resilience. However, during my own health transformation, I learned that seeking professional help and support from others is a sign of strength and wisdom. Luckily, many insurance plans cover the services of registered dietitians, who can provide excellent nutrition guidance for those on their wellness journey. If you need help getting started with strength training, consider seeking advice from a personal trainer – I know of a good one if you need a referral! Let your family and friends know you need their support and consider finding others with similar goals. A group with a common goal provides support, motivation, and accountability, which can help you stay on track and achieve your vision for optimal health.

It’s important to celebrate every accomplishment, regardless of how small it may seem. Whether you’ve cooked a healthy meal or gone to the gym after a long day at work, each victory deserves recognition. These small celebrations build momentum, and what was once overwhelming gradually becomes a habit that you eagerly anticipate.

Lastly, remember to take things one step at a time. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of achieving your goals quickly, but focusing on sustainable changes that you can maintain for the long haul is essential. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much too soon. Start with small changes that you can stick with and gradually make more changes as you become more comfortable. Achieving your vision for health is a journey toward a complete lifestyle overhaul that requires patience, determination, and self-love.

Moving forward, what does the future hold for you, both personally and professionally? What are you most excited about?

I am bursting with excitement about the future! I am passionate about health and wellness, and I am always looking for new ways to improve my own health and the health of others. I have recently taken a deep interest in the study of health span and the science of staying young, both physically and mentally. I believe that this is the key to truly enjoying life to the fullest.

Professionally, I am thrilled to have recently kicked off a new venture in partnership with my daughter Lauren. We are combining our expertise to support people in achieving optimal health goals through balanced nutrition and effective physical activity. Interestingly, this venture is part of my personal pursuit too; seeing my daughter grow as a female strength coach in the fitness industry brings me immense joy and pride.

I believe that Lauren and I can make a real difference in the world by helping people live healthier, happier lives. We are both committed to this work, and I am excited to see what we can achieve together. My future promises a coming together of personal joy, professional growth, shared purpose, and the power of making a difference in people’s lives. I am eager for the exciting times that lie ahead.


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