The idea began to percolate when her daughter was still in diapers. Jennifer Stanley always had been a workout enthusiast, but it wasn’t until she discovered bikini bodybuilding that the idea of striking a pose crept into her thoughts. Even after giving birth to her son, she imagined herself competing on stage one day.
It took a decade, but Stanley’s patience, persistence and training regimen paid dividends in 2022.
In March, she participated in her first bikini bodybuilding competition for the National Physique Committee, the world’s top amateur physique organization. She earned first-place recognition for one of the four classes in which she competed at the NPC Sunshine Classic. Two months later, Stanley (who’s 40) captured the top prize in the bikini division, winning the overall title at the NPC Triumph event.
The longtime hairstylist, a married stay-at-home mom in Coral Springs to her daughter (now 11) and son (now 7), spoke to Lifestyle about her bodybuilding journey.
What was your commitment to fitness before competing?
I fell in love with fitness probably halfway through high school. My workouts back then were different, but I put in [effort]. I enjoyed how it made me feel.
What’s your daily workout and diet routine look like now, especially as you’re preparing for a competition?
My workouts are broken down each day into specific muscle groups. Much of it is strictly weight training—unless it’s close to a show. At that point, I’ll do some cardio for conditioning to be ready for show day.
As far nutrition, I follow flexible dieting, and I count my macronutrients [protein, carbohydrates and fats]. Flexible dieting is being free to eat what you want as long as it fits into your plan for macros [consumed per day]. My coach [Dave Bogan, founder of Top Tier Physiques] is in charge of my nutrition and training program; he adjusts my macros when necessary and preps me for my shows. I’ve fallen in love with flexible dieting not just as a diet or something temporary—but as a way of life.
I don’t ever feel deprived because if there’s something I’m craving or I want to eat I’ll fit it in my day. As I get closer to a competition that changes a little—but not drastically. I still enjoy my daily pancakes and Sour Patch Kids.
How has your body transformation impacted you mentally and emotionally?
I’ve never felt more proud of myself. I put the work in—day in and day out. To look back and see how my body has transformed … I feel the strongest I’ve ever been.
What did it mean to you to capture overall title at the NPC Triumph Championships?
I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude in that moment. That’s all I could think about was how incredibly grateful and blessed I felt. When you are rewarded and recognized for all the work you put in, there’s no better feeling. It’s indescribable. [Note: At press time, Stanley had plans to participate in a national competition before the year was over. She’s also looking forward to earning her pro card and competing on a professional level.]
What advice do you have for women who are interested in changing the narrative about their fitness—but who find it daunting or difficult to start?
You are enough. You are capable. If you have a goal, no matter how small or big, take a baby step forward. You’ll feel proud. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. If you have one bad day, it’s OK. Start over fresh tomorrow.
I highly suggest surrounding yourself and finding your pack of people who are like-minded, people who lift you up and help to motivate and support you and your aspirations. It makes a huge difference. Always remember: This is your life; it’s up to you to make it the best you can.