Body Transformation: Nancy Reinhardt Didn't Let Degenerating Discs Stop Her

Nancy Reinhardt's weight pushed past 200 pounds. Suffering from degenerating discs, she used a clean diet and exercise to regain her health.
Editor's Note: Everyone is different and these results may not be typical for the average person. To achieve these results you need to be willing to put in the work both in the gym and in the kitchen. Use this transformation for motivation for you to make the changes you want!

Before Stats

  • 39
  • 200 lbs
  • 5'8"
  • 30%

After Stats

  • 42
  • 118 lbs
  • 5'8"
  • 12%

Lifestyle Prior To Change

What was your lifestyle like prior to your transformation?

As a senior in high school I developed a passion for fitness. I went on to teach aerobics, train men and women and eventually manage health clubs. By my early 20’s I began to let life take over, and at the age of 25 I had the first of my five children. Life slowly became about everyone else which left me dealing with depression and anxiety and an overwhelming loss of who I was.

I avoided all of the things that bring joy when you have children. Avoiding the camera started to become a full time job, and as I continued to have children, my weight became harder and harder to manage. I thought that giving to everyone else first was what being a mother was all about. With my last three children I was gaining upwards of 70lbs and after my last and 5th child, at 38 years old, I was topping 200lbs.

Nancy ReinhardtWhat was your low point or turning point?

In 2009 my back started to give me lots of problems and had me in bed more often than not. I later found out that I was suffering from degenerating discs. I was told that pain management was the only way to deal with what was happening to my back and that when I could not stand the pain anymore that surgery would be my next step.

These limited my daily life, and life with 5 children was becoming difficult to manage. I could not even bend down or walk on some days, due to the pain and inflammation. I had started to eat better in the fall of 2008 and by December of 2009 I was down almost 50lbs. I knew what I was capable of however, had the mindset that this might not happen at "40" and especially not after having "5" children.

Well the drive to get rid of that "muffin" was fierce, and to fight what would eventually be back surgery was not going to stop me. The fight began! This is when I found a “lifestyle” that incorporated a clean diet. Depression slowly started to disappear and the inflammation in my back became manageable with a diet that was not processed, out of a box or delivered.

Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?

Not able to sit for long, I started with 10 minutes on level 1 on the semi recumbent bike. As I began to lift again after an 18 year break, my back and core were not strong enough to withstand much. I knew how to lift and it was just a matter of starting to make that happen.

Frustrating as it was I knew that I had to keep going. I just kept at it and slowly added more and more weight. I tried to get to the gym at least 5 days a week but knew that if I obsessed over missing workouts that I would not sustain this lifestyle. I just kept an open mind and went with each day as it came.

Wearing a weight belt was the only way that my back could stand the pressure of lifting. I continued to increase cardio and my intensity and time, both increased. As my core became stronger I added more body parts to my routine. I landed back in bed often with pulled back muscles in an effort to save my spine.

Still not discouraged as I was getting stronger I kept going back for more. My body was responding and I was gaining a new sense of who I was. Last April I was down to 130lbs and although I never had a number in mind, this number pleased me greatly.

I bought my first string bikini in April of 2011 at the age of 41. Legs were the last thing to add back into my weekly routine last summer. I have recently added more abs and core and was able to run for the first time in years, two weeks ago. I am now lifting with the intensity and duration that I once knew and am free of the weight belt.

Nancy Reinhardt

Pictures have kept it real for me and with each new photograph; I gain more motivation to keep doing what I do.    
Depression, anxiety and an overwhelming lack of energy are no longer a part of who I am and the inflammation in my back is now managed with a clean diet and not medications.

In my quest to gain mobility, get rid of back fat, a “muffin” and lose a pant size, I have lost 5! Never underestimate what your body is capable of. I am currently at over an 80lb weight loss since the birth of my fifth child and weigh what I did 22 years ago (when I ate once a day), at the age of 42!

Please provide a timeline including when you started the transformation, and include major milestones:

  • Transformation Start: December 2009.

I honestly never started this to be where I am today. Each day is a milestone as I have full mobility and can now do the things that I was no longer able to do. Picking something up, bending down, lifting things, doing the laundry, dishes and daily chores, as a mother, have all been major milestones along the way. Every time I go to lift something either my husband or one of my older children starts to jump or reach to help and then remember that I have my life back. It has been an amazing journey and my life is forever changed.

  • Transformation End: No end in sight: lifestyle.

Nancy's Training Approach

What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?

I wanted to build muscle and lean out. Biceps and triceps were always before back and chest so that I could go heavy with them. My arms tend to lean out and I wanted to maintain definition in them, while sculpting legs.

I fit in cardio where I can and never do cardio on leg day.

Please add a workout that worked best for you:

Biceps and Back
Exercise Sets Reps
Alternate Standing Dumbbell Curl 4 10
Hammer Curl 4 10
Barbell Curl 4 10
Incline Dumbbell Curl 4 10
Rope Cable Curl (Drop Set) 4 10
Close Grip Lat Pull Down 4 10
Wide Grip Lat Pull Down 4 10
One Arm Dumbbell Row 4 10
Seated Cable Row 4 10
Legs
Exercise Sets Reps
Jump Squat (Warm Up) 1 20
Walking Lunge 4 10
Wide Stance Squat 4 10
Jump Squat 1 20
Bulgarian Split Squat 4 10
Leg Curl 4 10
Jump Squat 1 20
Triceps and Chest
Exercise Sets Reps
Two Arm Seated Dumbbell Extension 4 10
Dumbbell Tricep Kickback 4 10
Skullcrusher 4 10
Cable Tricep Extension With Rope (Drop Set) 4 10
Twisting Dumbbell Bench Press 4 10
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 10
Bench Press 4 10
Cable Crossover 4 10
Shoulders
Exercise Sets Reps
Overhead Dumbbell Press    
Arnold Dumbbell Press    
Upright Row    
Lateral Raise    
Plate Front Raise    
Legs
Exercise Sets Reps
Jump Squat (Warm Up) 1 20
Walking Lunge 4 10
Smith Machine Lunge 4 10
Wide Stance Squat 4 10
Sumo Deadlift 4 10
Leg Curl 4 10
Standing Calf Raise (Switch Toe Positions) 4 10
Abs and Core
Exercise Sets Reps
In and Outs on Flat Bench 3 20
Bent Knee Crunch 3 20
Captain Chair Bent Knee Crunch 3 20

Nancy ReinhardtPlease detail your cardio approach during your transformation?

Cardio started with the semi recumbent bike for 10 minutes on level one, and I am now up to 30-40 minutes on the bike or stair master. I started with 5 days of cardio and now do 2-3 days a week. I was able to jog for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:

  1. Listening to my body and only pushing when I knew that I could be pushed.
  2. Keeping it fresh and changing it up often so that I did not get bored and always wanted more.
  3. Even on days when I was overwhelmed with “life” I still made myself go workout knowing that the gym is what I needed to revive myself both mentally and physically.

How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?

I never set out to be an “after” and continue to transform. I have never changed how I train. Once my back was able to endure my current workouts, I just change exercises up or change my reps. Cardio has been cut back some but the rest has remained the same.

Nancy's Diet And Supplement Plan

What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?

I was always one that could go without food and was fine eating once or twice a day. I forced myself to eat 5-6 times a day and am proof that eating more will actually help you get lean and build muscle.

Can you give an example of what your daily meal plan looks like?

  • Meal #1: One serving of oats with cinnamon, 3 egg whites/one whole egg, 1/3 cup of berries.
  • Meal #2: Protein shake, one scoop of whey, one banana, 4 cubes of ice, handful of blueberries and 1/3 cup of skim milk.
  • Meal #3: 4 oz. of lean white meat chicken or tuna, 3/4 cup of baby carrots, 15 grapes.
  • Meal #4: Medium sized apple with 2T of almond butter.
  • Meal #5: Post workout - 4oz of lean white meat chicken or ground white meat turkey breast, ¼ cup of brown rice or 1 small sweet potato, ¾ cup of steamed vegetables (usually broccoli).
  • Meal #6: 4 egg whites or ½ cup of low sodium cottage cheese.

Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?

No, I just learned early on to read my body and listen to it. If my back became inflamed, I would change my diet and alleviate certain foods. It has been trial and error but I would not call them mistakes and more, tools to continue to challenge what my body is capable of.

Nancy Reinhardt

Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:

  1. CONSISTENCY!
  2. Keep it simple or life gets in the way and you opt for unclean foods.
  3. Eating often is the key to strength and mental clarity.

Did you allow yourself cheat meals?

I don’t plan cheat meals but will have cheat snacks. This is typically still a clean food but might be more fruit than I should have or later than I need to. I also have dark chocolate daily to keep me from craving sweets.

What supplements did you use during your transformation?

Advice For Others

What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?

  1. Eat 5-6 small clean meals each day with each meal containing lean protein and clean carbs.
  2. Make small goals and focus on single body parts and not your entire body. You still need to work out each body part but to stay encouraged, focus on parts.
  3. Lose the cardio junkie mentality. You must build muscle to have that lean toned look and to obtain that, you need to lift weights.

How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?

I always want more. I never set out to reach a certain goal so in my mind; I am not done and continue to challenge myself. Staying on track is about finding some sort of balance and this requires surrounding yourself with like minded people who support you and your goals.

Your Life Now

Nancy ReinhardtWhat is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?

I was asked repeatedly for help when I started my Facebook page in January of 2011, so I began coaching online last summer. I have currently coached hundreds of men and women worldwide and teach clients how to eat clean and write workout plans that support their goals, lifestyle and level of fitness.

I have been featured on many sites and was in Fitness Magazine April, 2012. I continue to get offers and hope to continue to inspire and motivate other mothers that life is not over after you have children or after a certain age. I will compete for the first time, in 2 weeks here in Atlanta.

What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?

The joy I get from helping others change their life, keeps me motivated for more. My body continues to change and with each change, it inspires more people that I come in contact with on Facebook. I also love to see what I can do with myself knowing that I am Over 40 and have had 5 children, 3 of which were in my 30’s.

There are not enough mainstream women who are featured in this industry that are older or who have had several children. It is time to take fitness to a whole new level. Women Over “40” are a driving force and I hope to give them a forum to change and be inspired by more women our age.

The industry is missing out on a huge opportunity with this age group. They want it and are in need of direction from those who are living it and who are not celebrities. My motivation and drive is beyond anything I can put into words.

Anything else you would like to share?

KEEP GOING! Never give up and never give in! We have one life and it is up to each of us to create the life that we want. We can’t change our past but we can use that knowledge as FUEL to change our life.

How Can People Contact You?

How can people contact you?

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Posted Thu, 10/20/2016 - 04:25
ty

Hello
Did u ever get the surgery for your back? If so what was the treatment plan & focus area?
How did u work on your core & positioning while weight training?
I know strengthening my whole body will help with pain, but i dont know where to start because the pain is crazy
Standing sitting laying down all hurts
Dr recommended physical therapy to me made it worse the CT scans dont show anything worth having surgery for so i cannot get an MRI i just want to feel good about myself again

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Posted Tue, 09/10/2013 - 18:36
Sandy

How heavy are the weights you use if your just starting out?

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Posted Sat, 04/27/2013 - 18:52
Mildred v. Vitangcol

I am inspired by your story. I have the same aspiration.. I need help yo attain my goal if going down to 120lbs, build muscles and strength.

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Posted Sat, 02/16/2013 - 22:25
Jellybean_67

Great transformation - gives me hope at 45 that my attempt to transform my body may not be in vain.