Interview with Master Athlete: Jen Dieter

Meet Jen Dieter. Jen is a 7-time CrossFit Games athlete, instructor, world record holder in weightlifting, mom of 3, physical therapist, and manager of 11 clinics for Select Physical Therapy. She opened their newest clinic inside Crucible CrossFit™ and works extensively with a wide variety of athletes including high level professional athletes, CrossFit athletes, and "weekend warriors." In 2016, Jen set a record for the USA Weightlifting American Master Record for the snatch, clean and jerk and total. This month she competed in the Masters Division in Weightlifting bringing home 3 gold medals.    

In a recent phone conversation, she inspired us with her focus and determination to stay active and to trust the process of CrossFit training.    

Here's what Jen had to share with us.

Tell us a little bit about where you are from and what led you into CrossFit?

I grew up in Roxbury, Connecticut. When I was younger, I was heavily involved in gymnastics up to college and was even a scuba diver throughout my college years. I have always enjoyed physical movement and sports. When I was 38 years old, one of my sisters urged me to try CrossFit. I am a physical therapist, so I am kind of an exercise snob. I was against paying for training when I could just look online and do the workouts myself at home. My sister was persistent and even sent me a Living Social deal for a gym that was 2 miles from my house. I agreed to try it out and was hooked by the third workout.

What does an average week of training look like for you and how does it change when training for the CrossFit Games?

Most of my training is done from 5:30-7:15am. After that, I get the kids off to school and start work at 8am. About once a week, I am able to get in a second session at lunch or in the afternoon depending on my kids’ sports schedules. I also train on the weekends. The gym hosts mock competitions on Saturdays and Sundays. During the summer, the kids’ activities tend to slow down, which is the time my training ramps up. I try to squeeze in a second session of training at least two days a week.

When things get really tough in WODs, do you have any mental tricks that you use to stay focused and keep going?

I try to remember the day-to-day and to not get too ahead of myself. I don’t allow myself to get stuck on the worry – as in if I didn’t sleep enough, train enough, etc. I take each day one day at a time. Three years ago while in Oregon, I had to complete two open workouts in an unfamiliar altitude and in a gym that was not my home gym. I did one workout, but then had to do the last one at 6am before catching a flight to return home. It would not have been too bad had one of my children not been sick all night long. I could have gotten stuck in my head or even excused myself from doing the workout, but I went anyways and had my best open workout of the entire season.

You want to train, plan, and do as much as you can. On game day you just go for it! Even if all your ducks aren't in a row – leave that thought behind you and press on. Don’t focus on the "what if." I prefer to focus on finding the best in myself.

Are you proactive in your joint health?  If so, how do you protect your joints from cartilage damage?  (Exercise, supplements, diet, can discuss your seminar here, etc.)

First and foremost, and since I am a PT, I do begin with the appropriate amount of stretching, mobility, and hands on body work. This is my number one line of defense. I believe in alternate therapies and healing through nutrition and supplements. I try to get patients into postures to take stress off of their joints. For my patients, I recommend proper mobility, stability, and proper nutrition in order to decrease the stress on our body. 

I really like NEM and I have been taking it myself. There are a handful of injuries I personally have had, but by maintaining an anti inflammatory diet, taking supplements like NEM, and by making sure my mobility and stability are properly balanced have made a huge difference on the stress my joints have experienced.  

At what age do you believe one should consider joint health care?

At the age of 5. I don't think it is ever too early to start caring for your joints and educating children on the proper ways to relieve stress from their bodies. With my patients, we try to catch habits before the become posture and before they become structure. We want to educate people on good habits before they become bad habits when it comes to joint health. 

What do you feel are your biggest weaknesses and strengths in CrossFit?

My strength in CrossFit is in anything that has to do with high-skilled gymnastic movements; such as handstand walking, pushups, toes to bar, etc. Also, I love heavy olympic lifting and heavy snatches!

I would have to say that my weakness is conditioning. When it comes to running and rowing, those are definitely my downfalls.

What would you say your greatest accomplishments are and why?

At this point, longevity in this sport (at my age) is one of my greatest accomplishments. I feel like the consistency has been a good thing for me. It has helped me place in the CrossFit Games. It has also allowed me to be able to hold a place in high-level competition and to keep my body from falling apart.

Last year was such a fun year. It was my last year in the 40-44 age group, so I did not focus on the outcome, but rather the effort. I had a great year taking everything out in strides and doing what I could do. Two weeks after the Games, I flew to Barcelona to compete in the World Championship in weightlifting, and I broke world records!

Anything else you’d like to add? 

One thing that I am proud of is that the company I work for has allowed me to open up an physical therapy office, Select Physical Therapy, inside the gym where I train. I see patients everyday – CrossFit or not.  They come by word of mouth and it is a pretty nice mix of patients. 

I have been with the same coach for the past seven years. Coach Lance Scott has been an integral part of my weightlifting and CrossFit. He does all my programming and the programming for the gym, Forging the Warrior. Most people switch gyms or coaches but staying with Lance has helped me get to where I am today.

 

Jen, we are inspired by all you do!  Whatever competition you have next on your plate, know we, here at Stratum Nutrition, are rooting for you! 

Jen Dieter
CrossFit Games Master Athlete
Jen Dieter is a 7-time CrossFit Games athlete, physical therapist, instructor, world record holder in weightlifting, and mom of 3.