Every time Carlie and Drew Selz went grocery shopping with their mother Janet, they would pass Oxygen magazine on the newsstand and would announce to anyone nearby — without a shadow of doubt or uncertainty — that their mommy was going to be on the cover one day. They were right.
Janet Selz has always been an Oxygen reader, and her long-term goal was to be featured in the Future of Fitness section. Selz snapped a pic of that section and texted it to her best friend. “My underlying ambition was to achieve my best self by my 40th birthday,” she says. “I had been dreading turning 40, and one of my biggest fears was aging.”
She also wanted to reclaim her pre-baby body — as much as she could. “Despite eating very healthy and exercising regularly, my body composition changed after having my daughters,” she says. “I was not able to put on muscle mass and lost much of what I had worked hard to build. I mourned my pre-baby body — that narrow midsection, perky rear view and cellulite-free legs.”
About a month later, her friend sent Selz a link to join The Oxygen Challenge 5. She also encouraged her to go for that goal of being featured in Oxygen but not in the back — on the cover. But despite her daughters’ frequent and assertive predictions, Selz wasn’t herself convinced she was cover-worthy. “I had seen past winners, several of whom were younger and in the fitness industry, and here I am, just a fitness enthusiast,” she says. “But as I thought about it, I realized that many Oxygen readers are just like me — women with full-time careers, busy moms and caregivers being pulled in a million directions.”
So she stamped down her fears and went for it, not only for herself but also for her daughters. “While I want them to face the world with realistic expectations, I also want to instill in them the importance of chasing their dreams,” she says. Modeling her own advice, Selz spent 90 days putting in the dedicated sweat equity, and much to her surprise, she earned her place on the Winter 2020 cover.
Selz chose Amber Dodzweit Riposta to be her coach for OC5 to get a fresh training perspective. “Before this challenge, I was a traditional weightlifter, each day training a different bodypart — arms, shoulders, back, legs, etc. — with four sets of eight to 12 reps, and begrudgingly did cardio, usually steady state for 30 minutes at a time,” she says. “Amber’s HIIT training and compound strength movements introduced my body to a new form of exercise, tweaking my routine just enough to give me that jump-start I needed.”
Though she was all in with coach Amber’s training, Selz took a step back when it came to the nutrition plan. “I learned how to balance my macronutrients to better fuel my body, but I chose not to partake in the more extreme diet measures such as the intermittent fasting and carb cycling,” she says. “For me, those strategies were not sustainable long term. My life does not happen on a stage. My life is at home with my children, at work caring for my patients, and with my friends and relatives.”
Selz did, however, buy in to Amber’s “memories over macros” edict. “Many women in the fitness world follow such strict dietary guidelines that they leave little room to enjoy life’s spontaneous moments,” she says. “Could I have lower body fat? Probably. Would I have visible abs? Maybe. Is it worth giving up spontaneous ice cream outings or pizza night with the family or happy hour drinks with a friend? Absolutely not! Memories over macros every time.”
Selz is a firm believer in forward thinking when it comes to nutrition, and she finds meal prepping essential to success. “On Sunday without fail, I prep ingredients to make five lunches, three breakfasts and two dinners to bring to work for the week — and of course enough to make lunches for the kids,” she says.
As she progressed through the three months of workouts and clean eating, Selz began to see what her daughters knew all along. “I may never have that pre-baby body again, but I learned to embrace the physique I have now and to love my body flaws and all,” she says. “I also resolved to stop chasing skinny and start chasing strong, and in doing so, I have learned to celebrate what my body is capable of doing and surprised myself with the things I am able to accomplish day in and day out.”
As for her fear of aging? Fugghetaboutit. “Though it sounds cliché, I have learned age, like weight, is just a number,” she says. “The older women I met through the OC5 Facebook group actually had a huge impact on how I now perceive aging. I was able to see firsthand women in their 40s, 50s and 60s doing this challenge, bringing their A game and killing it each and every day. I’m now looking forward to this next decade in life because I now have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities than I did before.”
Looking forward, Selz hopes she can encourage other “fitness enthusiasts” to go for their dreams. “It is my hope that I am relatable and inspiring to other women who are either starting out or continuing their journey toward healthy living,” she says. “I want to serve as an example that being strong, fit and healthy is a lifelong process — one that I’ve been working on for years and will continue to do so indefinitely.”
Cover Girl Question & Answer
Q: Word has it you now love Tabatas?
A: Yes! I loved Amber’s Tabata routines from Phase 1, and I had a very memorable moment doing a Tabata while on vacation at the beach: A young girl approached me as I was training and asked what I did to have such a strong physique. I described my exercise and nutrition, then invited her to join me the next morning for a workout. To my delight, she showed up bright and early and I led her through the Tabata. To think that I am an inspiration to strangers, especially young impressionable minds, provides so much satisfaction and motivates me to keep on keeping on.
Q: What did you think of the OC5 Facebook group?
A: Hands down the Facebook group was the best part of the Challenge! I formed friendships with women all across the continent, many of which I know will be lifelong. Not once have I come across a more supportive, uplifting group of women. We allowed ourselves to be vulnerable — while still holding each other accountable — and even though we were miles apart, we laughed together and cried together on a daily basis.
Q: What is your favorite clean joke?
Question: Why did the fox cross the road?
Answer: Free chicken!
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: I became famous (or perhaps infamous) on the Facebook page for my Fri-Yay protein shake, which consisted of vanilla protein powder, bananas, strawberries and a shot or two of coconut rum!
Q: If I never had to eat ______ again, it would be too soon.
A: Shrimp! They call them insects of the sea for a reason.
Q: You can never have too many ______.
A: Friends. I love being surrounded by positive, supportive people.
Q: Who is your celebrity crush?
A: I am certainly not the type to be star-struck, but I do have a major crush on my husband. Even though he might not be famous, I think he is a pretty big deal.
Q: How did you guys meet?
A: We met at community college, and I convinced him to go to nursing school with me. A couple that survives nursing school together can overcome anything!
Q: The most embarrassing thing in my gym bag right now is …
A: Bladder supports! Hey, I had two kids and am getting older, and yep, sprinting and jumping on occasion make me spring a leak. It happens to a lot of women, but I’m not one to be held back. And I’m definitely not embarrassed that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get an awesome workout and push myself to the max!
Q: Do you have a favorite playlist?
A: I think I am the only person in the entire universe who does not listen to music when working out. I find music distracts me from that mind-muscle connection, especially when lifting — I prefer silence.
Q: One thing people don’t know about me is …
A: I am a beauty school dropout! I got a “needs improvement” in scissor skills when I was training, which should have been a clue not to pursue a career as a hair stylist!
Q: What is your proudest moment in recent history (besides winning the cover!)?
A: One day, during the OC5 voting period, I allowed my daughters to cast my five daily votes for all the contest categories with one stipulation — no voting for mommy! I was interested to see who stood out to them as fit and healthy. My heart was full when they picked women of all shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities.
Birth date: September 29, 1979
Hometown: Weddington, North Carolina
Occupation: Nurse practitioner, adjunct faculty teacher
Family: Husband Andy, Carlie (7), Drew (5)
Facebook: Janet Spoto Selz
Curried Quinoa Salad
“One of my favorite make-ahead meals is this curried quinoa salad I usually have alongside grilled chicken or salmon,” Selz says. “The cranberries and apples satisfy my sweet tooth, while the spices create a complex flavor.”
1 cup dry quinoa
1 apple, finely diced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare quinoa as per package instructions. Remove from heat and stir in apples, cranberries and spices. Cover and let sit 10 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.