Jennifer Nicole Lee

Model, trainer and author Jennifer Nicole Lee says her fitness motto is: Strong is the new skinny. (Mike Brochu, courtesy)

Jennifer Nicole Lee is a fitness model who has positioned herself as a celebrity trainer and author. But back in 2003, while pregnant with her second child, she weighed more than 200 pounds and had "no athletic background whatsoever."

Disappointed with how she looked and felt, she decided to go from "fat and frumpy housewife and mom to super-mom with strong sexy physique." To do so, she started with the mind, which she calls "the strongest muscle in the body."

Why do you keep fit?

I found myself falling into the trap of many moms — getting out of shape after giving birth. I was actually overweight most of my life till I gave birth to my children. [But] I am a weight-loss success story, from fat and frumpy housewife and mom to super-mom with strong sexy physique. I wanted more energy stamina and endurance to keep up with the sport of motherhood. I wanted to prove the point that women only get better after becoming moms.

What's your workout routine?

I train four times a week in 45-minutes sessions — two days on, one day off. I have an active day of rest with the family.

For my workouts, I created a method of training called JNL Fusion, [named after my initials], where I blend or fuse your old-school weight training workout with super spiking cardio bursts for 30 seconds between sets of lifting weights. This allows me to get the best of both worlds: burning fat while sculpting strong, sexy muscle tone.

Cardio bursts sound like a great idea. How did it start with you?

I've really believed that the way I was able to unlock the fat-burning furnace was through weight training, being on the guy's side of the gym or working out in my living room with weights. But I noticed I was not completely in my fat-burning zone so I added super spiking 30 seconds of plyometrics or JNL Fusion, which I created for the modern-day busy mom to work out in her own home. [Cardio bursts could be] either a plyo or jumping moves to get the heart rate up.

Do you ever take a break from your workout routine?

No.

Do you have a personal fitness motto or philosophy?

Strong is the new skinny.

My mission is strength. I know that weight training is the fountain of youth, giving your body energy and not depleting it of it.

What's the most out of shape you've ever been?

I weighed 170 pounds when I met my husband — yo-yoed all my life. After the birth of my second son, I was over 200. That was in 2003 and it was very depressing. To become a mom is an identity shift. You become a baby holder not allowed to look good. That's why it's called "the baby blues." But I used fitness to help me heal and become more positive.

Did you ever consider cosmetic surgery?

No, I felt it was not necessary.

You mentioned you have an "active day of rest" with your family. How does your family keep fit?