The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has reminded us of the importance of choosing a healthier lifestyle, not only as a tool to help us acquire a toned body, but as a way to stay centered amid chaos.
By: Manny Chery
As a professional trainer, I always say that adopting a fitness lifestyle is not just about acquiring a toned or lean body to look picture perfect. Leading a fitness lifestyle is about ensuring that your body works efficiently so that you can be highly effective in your day to day life.
Fitness is like climbing a mountain, and it varies for everyone. Conquering that mountain requires you to discover your (own) rhythm, pace and endurance. It’s not easy, and it takes time. In the end, when you reach the top of that mountain, it’s all worth it.
In these tumultuous times, as everything around us seems to be crumbling, we must strive for balance. A fitness lifestyle not only helps to fight off illnesses/viruses, but also improves our mental health. Being fit equips us with the necessary tools to help fight stress so we take control of our lives and also be able to help lift others in this time.
The best way for people to approach fitness in this “new normal” is to not make it a question of whether to ‘be active’, but more of a ‘must and how.’ Find something that drives you to get it done each day, whether it’s personal or for your loved ones. A healthier, stronger version of yourself is always the answer – it might save your life one day. It also does not need to be about going to the gym or training everyday. Make it simple. Go for walks or runs, get some domestic work done, and follow a virtual class. Just get it done!
If you are not sure about how to start, get professional help. Fitness practitioners are there to lead and help people achieve their goals. Clients are not just looking for results; they are also looking for guidance on how to become a healthier version of themselves in many different forms.
Healing Through Fitness
People can heal through fitness by bringing back the excitement and joy of bettering themselves every day. Many studies have been conducted that prove that fitness can be a catalyst for healing.
As we know, working out allows us to release endorphins that can spark positivity and boost pleasure in our lives. They can even allow us to pick up more on self-healing/self-caring practices to help heal oneself. Despite losing weight, being more physically fit is great for our mental health.
When I think about fitness, I think about fitness in two different parts: working out and nutrition (diet). If someone can maintain an active lifestyle and continue to eat healthy food daily, their body/mind strengthens throughout that process. When someone is on a healthier path, they tend to be able to sleep better, cope with stress better, and have more energy throughout the day. These components all allow the person to stay more positive and overcome some mental health battles. Self-value is enhanced by self-care.
Breaking Bad Habits
During these COVID-19 times, people picked up a few bad habits while in quarantine. This period affected many of us in many ways, but mostly it impacted us psychologically. As a way to cope with the uncertainty and stress, people adopted negative coping mechanisms (e.g. emotional eating, overeating, excessive sleepiness – oversleeping etc.).
Breaking these habits will vary, but mostly it will require time and discipline. The best way to break a habit is to start simple. Start with one habit at a time. One day at a time. Take the time to map out positive actions you can commit to, instead of being held captive by the habits you have been falling into lately. Break it down into a week to week focus to (hopefully) gain momentum of these new changes. The plan does not need to solve all the “bad habits” all at once. Instead, map out weekly commitments so you can easily hold yourself accountable.
Social Media Influence
We cannot deny that social media has become a way of life for most of the human race, especially when we cannot physically be with one another, like in these times.
However, many people make the mistake of using social media (influencers) as a benchmark for fitness. The danger of using social media as a benchmark for fitness is people tend to set unrealistic timelines for themselves while trying to achieve the results they see on social media. For the most part, social media influencers only show the audience the final product and rarely do they explain the (fitness) journey it took for them to achieve those results.
I encourage people to always evaluate their progress from their beginning phase to current status. This way, it doesn’t get discouraging when they don’t look like fitness influencers or their idols right away. This also forces them to start to see their own improvement in their physique or health.
Some ways one can use social media space for health and effective fitness motivation, is to find a fitness coach that is knowledgeable and motivating. Use their energy and approach to life to motivate you to be better, everyday. Find a couple of different people that motivate you to be healthy; it doesn’t just have to be working out. Follow a well accredited Dietitian to expand your knowledge on healthy eating. Find a yoga instructor to help treat the body. Find a community of mutual goal-minded people to help give you a push!
Getting Back On The Fitness Wagon
For those who fell off the fitness wagon while in quarantine, I suggest to start simple. Mark out things you can commit to doing throughout the week.
It could be just walking for a certain amount of days, strength training on certain days, stretching a certain amount of minutes on some days etc. Just make sure it is a realistic and reachable goal. Complete the goal that week and build off that momentum.
For someone adopting a fitness lifestyle, the first step, as mentioned prior, is to map out a measurable realistic goal for oneself to begin your journey. Once you set that goal, put some action to it. Evaluate yourself each week to see what is working and what still needs to be worked on.
The biggest mistake people make when trying to attain their fitness goals is to set an unrealistic timeline to achieve the results or thinking the journey will be perfect. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s going to take a good amount of time and life happens sometimes – it’s never perfect. Just keep trying!
Timeline & Measurable Goals
The purpose and importance of setting a clear timeline before embarking on a fitness journey allows you to have realistic expectations to help build momentum. If the timeline is not clear or realistic, it might create discouragement and disappointment.
A measurable goal is a goal that can be answered in a question of did you complete that task or not. For example, someone can set a measurable goal of losing 10 kilos of weight. By the end of the month, they can look back and see if they completed that goal. Another example is someone can set a goal of walking 3 days a week, by the end of the week they can evaluate if they completed that goal.
I believe nutrition plays a big factor in achieving great results. The best way to approach diet is to seek professional help because nutrition is complex and our bodies are different. While waiting to get help, start cleaning up your nutrition habits slowly and replace any damaging nutrition habits to more beneficial habits that you can control and maintain.
Overcoming Fitness Obstacles
In my past and even currently, I tend to remember one thing when looking to overcome a fitness obstacle, and that is: ‘Keep going! Be patient! Don’t stop putting in the work! That day will come when you reach accomplishment. Continue to control what you can control and fall in love with it (the process).’
Through my fitness journey, I have learned that the power of self-belief is all you need. Nothing is impossible. If you want a goal, you have to be willing to do the work to achieve it. Take it one day at a time and do the best you can do. Make sure to take advantage of each day. If you fall off the wagon, it’s ok, it’s a journey – get right back up and start again!
Who is Manny?
Manny Chery is a full-time Professional Fitness Trainer based in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. He is a Certified Personal Trainer and a former manager of a fitness facility with 20 other personal trainers that serviced strength, weight loss, and youth fitness programs.
Manny holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education with a focus in Exercise Science, as well as a Nutrition Specialist certification. He is currently busy helping people live a healthier lifestyle and accomplish their fitness goals, while also working on further Nutrition certifications.