Q & A with Jen Patnode

As many of you know and have experienced, Bodies by Burgoon opened Torque Cycling above the training floor in the gym.

Torque Cycling

My very first cycling experience was with Jen Patnode in a Torque preview class, and she most definitely won me over. I told Jason later that whoever picked her for this place knew what they were doing! Jen's the easy to be with kind of person you want to have coffee with and at the same time can kick your butt. As one of her new Torque cyclers said, "She refers to us as athletes, so . . . I must be!"

Jen Patnode at Torque Cycling

I was so thrilled she was willing to give us a window into her day-to-day and share what she's learned about her own health and fitness over the years. Read up, take it all in, and find something to inspire you or someone you care about. Thanks for sharing, Jen!

Jen Patnode with Bodies by Burgoon

Describe your morning routine, what does it look like and what is the first thing you eat and do?

I am a very early morning person and wake up in the 4’s or 5’s. Before I eat anything, I drink about 8-16 oz. of warm water. I then pour my cup of coffee and typically eat either oatmeal or a Kind Bar. I work out in the mornings about 3-4x/week, and the other days I sit down at my computer and get a ton of work done before the rest of the world is working.

What’s your favorite way to get cardio into your week?

Right now I am training for my first triathlon so I’ve been mixing my cardio between spin, swim, and run. I love spin because I get my workout in while teaching – two of my favorite activities in one! I’ve been a runner for years and nothing beats a great long run but this swimming thing is new to me. WOW, it is hard. I’m excited that I have found a new way to push myself with swimming.

What's your favorite exercise to do downstairs with the trainers?

I LOVE Saturday mornings! Most Saturday’s at 7 a.m., all of the “regulars” train together for an intense mix of cardio and weights. We laugh and joke but these sessions with James and Aldon are no joke! Most of us then head upstairs for my 8:30 spin class afterward. Nothing like a good 2 hours of intense Burgoon workouts to start the weekend off right!

Jen Patnode and Aldon Tibbs

What’s your food strategy and prepping style?

I’ll be honest, my food prep is no prep, which is a challenge! I work 10-12 hour days, and my days vary by what meetings I have and when my workouts will be. For me, it’s all about convenient healthy on-the-go options throughout the day and a healthy dinner at night.

1.  Some items I keep around for the day:

  • Oatmeal
  • Protein Shakes – either Premier Protein or Isagenix
  • Kind Bars (the 5-7 grams of sugar options)
  • Almonds
  • Berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Goat cheese for everything – love goat cheese!
  • When I want chips, I eat Sweet Potato Popped Chips (Byerly’s) and Cheese Crisps (Costco)
  • Costco is my friend! They have this big pack of pulled rotisserie chicken that I nibble on all day!

2. When I need a real meal and I’m out and about with no snacks on hand:

  • Salad bar at Whole Foods and Byerly’s
  • I used to do protein bars all of the time – I had to quit. They were very hard on my system, and now that I stopped, I feel better than ever. 

3. Eating out – For my profession, I have to eat out a lot. I stick to salads with lean meat and dressing on the side.

4. Sweets and Treats – Don’t get me wrong, I indulge and love me some frozen yogurt with insane toppings, but here are some treats I stick too:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Dark Chocolate covered almonds
  • Coconut Treats (sold at Byerly’s)
  • At restaurants, instead of ordering a big dessert I ask for 1 small scoop of their best ice cream and a decaf coffee.

5. My main source of healthy REAL meals is via Origin Meals.

Origin Meals | Blackened Chicken

We get a full week worth of meals – they are all Paleo and between 300-600 calories. Check them out!

Origin Meals | Steak Squash Broccolini

Do you keep track of the food you eat in a day?

I sure do! I use MyFitnessPal. The following was a day where I didn’t think I had time to workout because of my new job. I realized I had a ton of research and reading to do so I decided to do it on the treadmill and ended up walking 1.5 hours+ and getting through my entire training!

Jen Patnode's Food Log

In your bio, I read that there was a time when you lost 50 pounds and have kept if off for 10+ years. Can you describe your learning process around food and how has your eating changed over the years? 

I tried every diet and strategy under the sun – low carb, Atkins, low fat, intermittent fasting, restricting, no sugar, cardio cardio cardio, cleanses, shakes…you name it. At first, I just wanted to be skinny so I just focused on calories and working out. For the reason that my goal was to lose weight and be “skinny,” some of these short term strategies worked and the weight came off. The hard part was when I lost the weight and realized skinny was no longer the goal. “Skinny” is a moving target. I learned that the hard way when I realized I was never going to be “skinny” enough. At one point (and I can only see this now looking back), I was too thin and still unhappy. So I gave up. I gave up on skinny and started the real journey – healthy and strong! Skinny or thin doesn’t = happy but HEALTHY does! I now focus on a few things:

1. Being active as much as possible – I work out between 5-7 days/week. Sometimes a “workout” is a walk. Just be active.

2. Accountability – Food accountability = tracking my food – Activity accountability = working out with friends, tracking my workouts, and teaching spin!

Jen Patnode and Emily Thompson, photo by E Michele Photography

3. Eating REAL food – Meal replacements have their place so take this for what it’s worth. I used to eat protein bars at least 1 if not, 2x per day. I have had “stomach” issues for years and could not understand how I could be so healthy and have these issues. My doctor recommended eliminating 1 item out of my diet at a time to see if I could pinpoint a single culprit. I started with the most obvious…protein bars. After just 2 days of skipping protein bars, it was literally a MIRACLE! ALL issues GONE. I had been experiencing serious pain and other issues for years and in 2 days, it was gone. A true testament.

4. Focus on how things make me feel when I eat or drink them – I also focus on how I feel when I DON’T eat or drink something. Key example: Alcohol. Many of my friends know that I rarely drink (maybe 2 drinks/month tops). But many people don’t know or understand why. It is 100% about the way it makes me feel the next few days. My body feels lethargic, I make poor food choices, I’m dehydrated, I am less inclined to want to workout, I do not sleep well, and my mood is down. For these reasons, I choose not to drink alcohol. That said, no side effect is going to take the wine out of my hand on my trip to Italy : )

5. Having HEALTHY goals and challenges to keep motivation up I am always signing up for races – I run a few half marathons and I have my first triathlon coming up this summer. – My fiancé and I do challenges on a monthly basis (sometimes longer). Right now, we are doing the B2B Challenge. From my birthday (4/14) to his birthday (6/24), we have chosen 5 mini goals per day and a bonus goal. If we achieve all 5 daily goals, we get 5 points (it’s all or nothing) and Bonus = +2. The mini goals are personalized. Every challenge has a different prize. This time, we’re playing for CASH!  My mini goals include:

  • Workout 6x per week
  • Log food
  • Drink only – water, tea, and coffee (I was drinking a lot of drinks with fake sugar and needed to stop!)
  • NO Artificial sweetener (this has been something I’ve wanted to quit for years as I was having many sugar free drinks, candy, and gum)
  • NO Sweets/Desserts (while difficult at first, my cravings are gone!)
  • NO Alcohol
  • Meet my daily nutrition goals from MyFitness Pal
  • BONUS – 2 points for a double workout!! (these don’t happen often my friends)

Jen Patnode teaching

In order to take care of yourself, is there anything in life you have had to let go of in order to be healthy, strong, and your best self?

Anyone who grew up or spent a significant portion of their life overweight and then went on to lose weight can likely relate to what I am about to say. I used to have a constant fear of “going back.”  This fear motivated me for a while but fear can only take you so far. I had to let go of that fear. I will admit that on hard days, when I feel like I have lost control over a certain aspect of my life, the fear rears its ugly head but these instances are fewer and far between.

Jen Patnode at Torque Cycling

What's something you make when you cook your own food? 

Our favorite meal is every Saturday morning. Ross and I host what we now call "family breakfast." Basically, he goes to Crossfit at 9, and I go to Burgoon at 7 and teach at 8:30, then we come home and bring our friends from the gym. We make a big batch of eggs. Here's the special mix:

Jen's Family Breakfast
Author: Jen Patnode
Serves: 4
  • 1 pint Kirkland egg whites from Costco
  • 1 or 2 whole eggs
  • 4 Costco apple and gouda chicken andouille sausage links
  • 2 oz goat cheese crumbles
  • 1 cup chopped portabella or shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 avocado
  • truffle oil
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup red cherry tomatoes
  1. Slice up the chicken sausage and sauté sausage and onion
  2. Add mushrooms and sauté
  3. Cut cherry tomatoes in 1/2 and add to sauté.
  4. Once all are sautéed together, take off the pan and set aside
  5. Scramble egg whites and eggs.
  6. At the very end, add sautéed mixture to the eggs
  7. Split 2 ounces of goat cheese 4 ways and place cold in 4 bowls.
  8. Add 2-3 drops of truffle oil to the bowls
  9. Add 1/8 avocado to the bowls.
  10. Poor hot egg mix over the cheese, avocado and truffle oil and EAT!
Serves 4

Nutritional Information for Jen's Family Breakfast

Last but not least, give us a favorite from your cycle playlist!

"All These Things That I’ve Done" by the Killers is a great ending hill climb–the beat kicks in and then ... ”I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.”  So great!


Thank you, Jen, for generously giving us an inside look to your current life and for pushing us on the bike in your very Jen-like way. We love it!

Come join Jen in a special one hour spin class to raise awareness and funding to fight MS (Multiple Sclerosis) this Saturday at 10:30 am. This is a donation based class (FREE but we would love if you could bring a donation!) All proceeds will go to support Jen's dear friend Kevin's 150 mile bike ride called the MS150 in Denver CO.

Register here to reserve your bike for this fundraising ride and many more options for cycling at Torque!