Jean Jitomir Fitness Model Interview and Photos

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Jean is registered dietitian who graduated from Cornell University in 2004. She is the WNPF Bench Press 123 lb American Record Holder, and NPC 2005 Tri-state Championship Light Weight and Overall Winner. She began my career in fitness as a power lifter and then moved to bodybuilding and figure in 2005. When Jean is not in the lab, she is whipping up some new recipes for her cooking classes or training smart and hard for female bodybuilder and figure contests. She provides diet and training services such as diet counseling, personal training and contest coaching.


Jean Jitomir – Fitness Model Statistics

  • Name: Jean Jitomir
  • Height: 5’2
  • Weight: 115
  • Hair Color: Dark Auburn
  • Bust: 37
  • Waist: 26
  • Hips: 36
  • Location: Buffalo, New York
  • Website: www.jeanjitomir.com

Jean Jitomir – Fitness Model Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My bio and life are probably easiest to describe as a series of five phases, which start with simple life on the farm straight through my immigration to Texas (remember the Alamo).

Phase 1- Early Farm Life
Most of childhood escapes my memory, which is probably a blessing. I did many standard farm things: woke up early up to feed the animals, chopped down trees for fire wood, and went “haying.” These chores were early weight training, which was supplemented by the Angus beef that we raised. I was brought up living a bodybuilding lifestyle— there was plenty of high-quality protein, no craptacular food and lots of heavy lifting.

The lack of “junk” food was due to our state of poverty rather than my parents’ dedication to healthy living. My mother was a high school drop-out; my dad was a mechanic who was “laid-off” about half the year, so my family of five survived on under $20,000 per year. There was little money left over for soda and ho ho’s, but I digress. Each meal was a hearty chunk O’ meat, washed down with fresh spring water.

I also grew up without TV, save for my dad’s Betamax, so my sisters and I spent most of our time outside- we’d hike hills, play with the animals, climb trees, and swim in our muddy, leech-infested pond. I wouldn’t go near it now, but my, the fun we had at the time.

Phase 2- Tumultuous Poverty
My parents always had a rocky marriage, but when it progressed to the point of pure hatred, my mom finally left my dad. I was eleven at that time. My mom, my sisters and I stayed in a shelter at first and then with one of my mom’s friends.

We moved into a government-subsidized apartment, which was not bad on its own, but was embedded in a neighborhood that was detrimental to all of us. Apathetic and culture shocked, I got suspended from school for carrying a knife and started drinking, smoking pot and fraternizing with men twice my age. I got away with this behavior, in part, because my mother was busy attending community college and beginning a 7-year custody battle with my father.

Phase 3- Life Back on the Farm
When I was 14, my mother re-married and we moved to another farm- it was here that I started to become the person I am today. As a freshman in high school, we were subjected, as we were every year, to the mile run, pull-up test, and body fat test. I “ran” the mile in 13:36, couldn’t do a ¼ of a pull-up, and was told that I was over-fat by my gym teacher. That weekend, I was babysitting two kids, 3 and 5, and I could not catch them as they ran up the road. I decided it was time to do something about my weight and general fitness level- I was 145 at 5’1” at that time. I decided to go out for cross-country and track the following year. By my junior year of high school, I cut my mile time nearly in half, did six pull-ups and was the first leg on the 400M X 4 relay.

My mother finished community college and was accepted to Cornell University to finish her bachelor’s. After that, she attended Cornell Law School. She went from being a high school drop-out to an Ivy League lawyer in less than 10 years— she has been a huge source of motivation and inspiration for me. To follow her lead, I was matriculated into Cornell University as an undergraduate.

Phase 4- The Freshman 30
I started fairly strong at college, but some unfortunate events made me depressed; I gained 30 lbs and my grade point average plummeted after my second semester of college. When I returned home for the summer, I realized how unhealthy I was and worked out at the YMCA several days a week. When I returned to college in the fall, I changed my major to nutrition and dietetics.

At first, I lifted weights to kill time when all the cardio machines were taken; however, weight-lifting became the focus of my work-outs over time. I bought Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Modern Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding and designed training programs for myself– I constantly re-read the book to make sure that I was using proper form. When I was a senior, I worked at the gym on campus and saw posters for a bench press competition and decided to give it a shot- I was the best female lifter. I continued to compete in bench press for a year.

Phase 5- Good Times
After graduating from Cornell, I completed my dietetic internship and Master of Science in Nutrition at SUNY Buffalo. I started training for a full powerlifting meet (bench, squat and dead lift); I injured my left shoulder so badly that I couldn’t push a door open without excruciating pain. After that several bodybuilders encouraged me to compete their sport. I was hesitant at first but eventually competed in my first bodybuilding competition in September of 2005- I won my class, took the overall title, and qualified for nationals.

As I looked into national level bodybuilding competition, I realized I was only a fraction of the size and muscularity of the women who place well at national events, so I decided to try figure competition. I competed in several competitions in 2006, the highlights were a class A win at a national qualifier and a 14th place in class A at Figure Nationals. Even though I wasn’t terrible at figure, bodybuilding appeals to me more. When preparing for bodybuilding competition, you have some kind of clue what you need to do to compete at your best. I like shaping my body and seeing in detail what I’ve worked for; I value the opportunity have 90 seconds to display my hard-earned and sculpted physique. For me, bodybuilding doesn’t have to be exclusively about guessing what the judges are looking for that minute; I enjoy the process of reaching my physiological maximum of proportion, symmetry, and muscularity while presenting myself as an individual.

I’ve been in Texas as of August 2006; I came to Baylor University to pursue a PhD in Exercise, Nutrition and Preventive Health. I work as a research dietitian, which is how I have access to highly sophisticated techniques to get ready for my next bodybuilding competition, the Jr. USA in 2007. My first testing session was about 1½ weeks after Christmas- I’ll continue to do progress tests and photos until the competition. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to look at the clinical changes that happen while dieting and preparing for competition.

How did you get started in the fitness modeling field?
I have been lifting seriously for about 4 years. I began my career in fitness as a power lifter and then moved to bodybuilding and figure in 2005. I am also a registered dietitian and I received my degree in nutritional sciences from Cornell University.

What is the #1 thing you like best about being into fitness?
A fit person will show externally the health and vitality of the inner body, which makes one feel good about herself.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the fitness field?
I hold an American record in the WNPF for the bench press and I won the lightweight and overall title in a recent NPC bodybuilder national qualifier- I’m hoping to qualify for figure nationals this spring.

What is the best way to get started in the fitness modeling industry? Should I just contact the photographers directly or should I use an agency?
Hire a professional photographer to do some photographs that highlight your body and personality in the best possible ways- you want to show future employers your best angles. Develop a professional comp card and distribute it at trade shows. Always be confident, personable, and reliable.

Please describe a typical day for you. What is your daily routine like?
I am a graduate student, teacher, and cooking instructor, so my days are always full. I eat my daily omelet as soon as I wake up, go to class, teach classes, and do my workouts in the late afternoon or early evening.

I don’t have that much time during the day to workout, so I really want to burn major calories in a short amount of time. What is the #1 “bang for the buck” cardio exercise I should do to burn serious calories?
In general, cardio should not be long for extended periods of time. Research shows that very long periods of cardio burn a larger % of muscle that short bursts; thus, shorter interval-type workouts are preferable. Further, your body gets used to any given routine after only a couple of weeks, so your workouts should constantly evolve. I like to warm up for about 3 minutes, then work hard enough to lose my breath for about 2 minutes and repeat the five minute cycle about 4 or 5 times for a 20-25 minute workout. I change my type of cardio every day.

How much weight (pounds) should I focus on losing every week? What is a safe amount to make sure I keep it off?
About 0.5-1 pound per week is a reasonable goal; however, long-term weight loss requires diet changes and exercise habits that may take months or years to establish, so be patient!

What type of food or supplements should I take before and after my workouts to help me see results in gaining lean muscle and losing fat?
Make sure you have enough energy to put forth maximum effort for your weight training session- you cannot gain muscle mass if you are constantly fatigued. I like to have a small meal consisting of some carbohydrates and protein about an hour before my workout. After you workout it is absolutely vital that you get a proper amount of carbohydrates! Your body’s ability to store glycogen is highest within 45 minutes of ending your session. Glycogen is one of the most important fuels for your muscles during a lifting session- you cannot reach your maximum potential without replenishing your stores after a workout! So bring a snack with you to the gym and eat it on the way out or in your car. Bananas are a good choice. Also within 2-3 hours of your workout you should have a regular small meal with a lean source of protein. I don’t use shakes myself, but after your workout would be an excellent time to have a whey-based shake.

How do you deal with cravings for junk foods, sweets and salty food? I can stay on a diet for maybe a few weeks but I eventually get really bad cravings and binge on snacks and fast foods.
You should not be starving yourself when you are on your diet since this is one of the biggest mistakes I see in my practice. Remember, your diet must be sustainable forever to maintain your losses forever! Eat a small meals based on lean protein with some carbohydrates and fat every 3 hours. Also incorporate a lot of fruits and vegetable, which will keep you full. I deal with sweet cravings my eating sweeter protein bars right before my workout. If you must have sweets, have a small amount and eat them either right before or after workouts. Salt does not have calories, so use salty low-fat condiments in moderation: include hot sauce, low-cal dressings, ketchup, and mustard. Also keep a stock-pile of bars in your car and one in your bag at all times. That way, when you’re stuck somewhere you have emergency reserves when it’s time for a meal!

I’m trying to create a healthy shopping list to stick with. What are some of the main foods I should include to maintain a lean and muscular physique?
Lean protein is a must! This includes chicken breasts, extra lean ground beef (< 5 % fat), cottage cheese, low-fat soy products, and many others. Also all fruits and non-starchy vegetables should be eaten generously. It’s easy to eat 600 calories worth of cookies, but you would have to eat 10 oranges or 15 cups of broccoli to get the same number of calories.

I’m about 35 pounds overweight. I have never started an exercise program and really don’t know where to start. What tips can you give me to get started on the right track?
Hiring qualified trainer is best! Many people flounder for years in the gym because of improper form or a counterproductive approach. Ask for credentials and before and after pictures of other clients before hiring them. Qualified trainers will volunteer this material enthusiastically. A trainer without qualifications and outcomes is not worth your time and money, so ask! If you cannot afford a trainer, read all you can about training programs in print materials and online. Also, ask your fit friends and family members for tips- most people like to offer their expertise.

I tend to eat out most of the time and really don’t know what healthy foods to order from the menu. What tips do you recommend for eating out at restaurants to make sure my diet will not suffer?
Many chain places now offer reduced calorie meals, so that may be an option. Also dessert is dessert no matter how you look at it- focus on satisfying yourself with “real food.” At an upscale restaurant, politely ask about the menu items, request to have meats grilled, braised, or roasted. Ask for all sauces on the side. Never be afraid to ask- you are paying for the meal! If you do choose to have dessert, share with someone or order sorbet, if available. Coffee and mints are also a great way to end a meal!

What exercises do you recommend for getting a bigger, rounder and fuller butt?
Squats, squats, and try some squats. If you feel uncomfortable doing squats, or just generally hate them, an all-out effort on a leg press machine is better than a half-hearted squat, however.

What is the most challenging thing you deal with about consistently staying in top shape?
Constantly changing my routine to stimulate the muscles in new ways. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into a routine, which becomes a rut.

Please describe your normal diet. What do you eat in a typical day to stay in shape?

  • Breakfast: Omelet with 3 egg whites, 1 yolk, 1 cup cooked vegetables. Coffee ½ cup unsweetened soy milk, and an orange.
  • Mid-Morning Snack: 200 calorie protein bar
  • Lunch: Salad with cooked greens, 3 oz lean ground beef, other non-starchy vegetable, herbal tea and a grapefruit
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack: Cup of cottage cheese (cultured) and fruit or 200 calorie protein bar
  • Dinner: 2 cups cooked vegetables, 3 oz lean meat and a cup of berries

What type of exercises do you include in your routine to stay in shape?

Strength Training Exercises: I own several good exercise books and literally try everything I see. Some of my favorites are:

  • Arms: Dumbbell hammer curls 21’s, triangle pushups, dips
  • Legs: Sissy squats, lying hamstring curl drop sets, seated calf machines
  • Shoulders: Arnold presses, upright rows, bent over rear delt exercises
  • Back: Chins, lat pull-down, single arm cable rows, shrugs
  • Abs: weighted decline sit-ups, cable crunches, reverse crunches
  • Chest: Incline flys, heavy dumbbell bench press

Cardio Exercises: Running intervals, low elliptical (don’t bounce at all and almost squat while you are doing on the machine) and the rotating stairs.

Additional Training: I always take the stairs and park far away- take every opportunity you have!

What are the top 5 tips (specific exercises, diet advice, etc) you recommend for developing toned and defined arms?

1. Eat 6-8 small meals per day, base all meals on lean protein, vegetables, and fruits

2. Lift 3-4 days a week.

3. Use isolation movements and strict form

4. Quality over quantity in strength training

5. Get your Zzz’s- allow your body to recover!

What are your top 5 tips for losing unwanted body fat?

1. Eat 6-8 small meals per day, base all meals on lean protein, vegetables, and fruits

2. Learn to love raw, non-starchy vegetables

3. Do productive cardio 4-5 days a week

4. Make a plan and track your progress- change your plan to progress further.

5. Make it a family affair! Spread the health bug to those you love and support each-other.

What are your top 5 tips for gaining lean muscle mass?

1. Don’t be afraid of heavy weight!

2. Eat quality food early and often.

3. Change your routine every two weeks

4. Come to terms with the fact that you will have to gain a little fat too- it’s worth it when you diet!

5. Eat a small meal before work-outs; get your carbohydrates immediately afterward!

What are the top 5 tips you recommend for staying motivated on a fitness plan and truly making a healthy lifestyle change?

1. Try new healthy foods and new exercises all the time. Find things you like so that it’s enjoyable to work out and eat healthfully.

2. Do it for the right reasons. For some it is lowered risk of chronic disease- for some it’s mostly vanity and that’s okay too.

3. Be accountable to someone, a trainer, a friend, a training partner. Demonstrating your success is often a great motivator.

4. Work slowly and steadily and be patient- it takes time!

5. For faster results, train for a particular event, like a competition or an athletic event. This gives you a kind of fitness deadline.

What is your training routine like? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.)

Monday: Leg day

  • Begin with 2-3 compound movements (squats, lunges, dead lifts) 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps each
  • Hamstrings (lying hamstring curl, single leg lying hamstring curl, straight leg dead lift) 6-8 total sets 6-12 reps each
  • Quads (leg extension, leg press machines), 6-8 total sets of 10-15 each
  • Abductor/adductor/calves supersets and tri-sets- 3 total sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise,
  • More calves, 2-3 sets
  • 10 minutes easy cardio (jogging, light elliptical, etc)

Tuesday: Back/Biceps /Abs

  • Wide Grip Back Exercises: 4 sets wide grip pull-ups to failure, 4 sets wide grip lat pull down: 6-12 reps each set
  • Close Grip Back Exercises: 4 sets t-bar rows: 6-12 reps each set, 4 sets single arm cable rows: 6-12 reps each set
  • Biceps: 4 sets dumbbell hammer 21’s, 4 sets straight bar cable curls 8-12 reps each set, 4 sets reverse barbell curls 8-12 reps each set
  • Abs: 4 sets decline crunch with 5 LB weight on chest to failure, side crunches 20-25 reps each reps for 3 sets, 3 sets reverse crunches to failure
  • 10 minutes easy cardio

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Chest, triceps, optional shoulders

  • Chest: 4 sets Incline dumbbell flys: 8-12 reps each set, barbell bench press: 4-12 reps each set, 3 sets machine incline press 6-12 reps each set
  • Triceps: 3 Supersets tricep kickback (10 reps) and triangle pushups (to failure), 4 sets triceps push-down 6-12 reps, 4 sets overhead dumbbell tricep extensions: 8-12 reps

Friday: Hard Cardio, 30 minute running interval work-out

Saturday: Traps, shoulders, arms: Includes shrugs, Arnold Presses, and other exercises performed similarly to the other days

Sunday: Easy cardio, slow rotating stairs/elliptical

Notes: My routine is pretty intense because I’ve been lifting for years- it absolutely should not be used as a beginning program. Beginners should start by doing only 8-12 total sets in a workout. Not as much volume is needed or desirable in the beginning.

What are the top 5 tips (specific exercises, diet advice, etc) you recommend for losing fat around the stomach and developing a toned and defined midsection?

1. Eat 6-8 small meals per day, base all meals on lean protein, vegetables, and fruits

2. Learn to love raw, non-starchy vegetables

3. Do moderate and high intensity cardio 4-5 days a week

4. Make a plan and track your progress- change your plan to progress further.

5. A toned and defined midsection comes primarily with general weight loss and reduction of body fat, so any process that allows you to get leaner overall will trim your midsection

What are the top 5 tips (specific exercises, diet advice, etc) you recommend for toning the thighs, hips and butt?

1. Eat 6-8 small meals per day, base all meals on lean protein, vegetables, and fruits

2. Learn to love raw, non-starchy vegetables

3. Do moderate and high intensity cardio 4-5 days a week

4. Learn to love squats, lunges, dead lifts and all lower body compounds movements. Really squeeze your butt and thighs as you exercise- don’t just go through the motions.

5. Toning and defining any area of the body comes primarily with general weight loss and reduction of body fat, so any process that allows you to get leaner overall will trim your lower body.

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