Take Control | Sara
Illness is sometimes just unavoidable. There are many people in the world born with chronic illnesses. It’s a wide range of things that can cause your body not to function properly. Sometimes it can even be hard for physicians to decide what the problem really is. Imagine how frustrating that can be for someone. Just knowing something is wrong, but not knowing how to fix it. Your body doesn’t feel good and mentally they’re defeated. It can be almost unbearable. However the only thing standing between anyone and feeling good is a change of the mind.
You have to know when to take matters into your own hands. And that’s exactly what fitness enthusiast, Sara did! Sara, along with many others struggle with a number of chronic health issues. It’s not uncommon for different treatments and procedures prescribed by doctors not to work.
“I’ve tried just about every treatment under the sun. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. Nothing worked. Eventually I was so tired of going to doctor after doctor with no success. I decided to take things into my own hands and use fitness and nutrition to bring me whatever relief possible,” Sara says.
While she still struggles with health issues, fitness and nutrition has helped her to better manage what she goes through. Fitness not only helps her to feel better, but it gives her a sense of control over her own destiny. “ I’m not out trying to be the best that ever was or win any awards. I work hard because it’s become fun for me to test my personal limits. It empowers me.”
Mindset is everything! You have to build your confidence starting with you thoughts. When your mind is strong, your body will follow suit. “I used to view exercise as a punishment but now I see it as a privilege. It’s all about perspective. I also feel lucky to be able to exercise at all,” Sara explains. Battling with illness can make it difficult to even have the drive to get up and pursue fitness. It can also be difficult to make conscious decisions about your health when it feels like nothing the doctors have told you to do has worked. However, you can’t get defeated. You have to stay strong a persevere. “There was a time when I was too sick to work out. I had to start exercising again slowly, but being sidelined for so long made me realize that just having the ability to work out is a huge privilege,” Sara says. And that privilege inspired her to take full advantage of it.
“If you’re just starting out with a fitness regimen, my biggest advice is to take things as slowly as you need. Even if you can only do five minutes worth of exercise…heck, even if you can only do thirty seconds…just do something. Most of fitness is mental. Once you get your head in the game, it gets easier to stick to a routine. Until you get in that mental space though, find a way to just do something, even if it doesn’t seem like much. If you’re following a specific program and find that it’s too hard, modify the exercises. Make the workouts shorter. Do whatever you need to do. Be honest with yourself. Are you genuinely giving your best effort? If the answer is “yes,” who cares if you have to modify something or cut the workout short? It was your best and it was challenging for you. Therefore, it’s working! Build up slowly if you need, and be confident in the fact that you really are becoming a little stronger every day.”
On any journey to fitness it is important to have positive people in your corner. You need support whether it’s from family or friends. You could even join an online community. For Sara, this journey has given her the chance to connect with thousands of like-minded people from around the world. “ I never would’ve connected with so many people without taking this journey. Several of my closest friends are people I’ve never met in person but I talk to them daily. We share a meaningful connection,” Sara says.
Not only is it important to build connections with others. It is also important to have self-encouragement as well. You have to truly believe in yourself. “You are as strong or as weak as you believe you are. Either way, you’re right. If you can keep things in perspective and realize that this is your journey, and that whatever results other people may experience have nothing to do with your success, you have already won. Believe you can and you’re more than halfway there,” Sara says.
Do you have a favorite fitness program? Why?
I’ve tried several programs and have several that I really love, but if I had to choose one favorite, it would be “My Best Body.” It is a muscle-building and fat-loss program, and it has made a huge difference for me. I am stronger, physically and mentally, because of it. It’s also given me the tools I need to have continued success beyond the program itself. It’s made me feel confident in the weight room, and has helped me to dial in on how to make nutrition work for me and my goals.
Any advice on avoiding injury while training?
Yes! Make sure to warm-up before your workout. I tend to like something that involves active stretching and a bit of plyometrics to get my heart rate up and muscles warm.
What three pieces of fitness equipment should everyone have?
A stopwatch or timer. I generally just use my phone.
An exercise mat. You can do a lot with just your bodyweight, but having a mat is very helpful, especially for ab exercises.
A good attitude. It’s costs nothing but is absolutely priceless.
Can you share a workout session that you routinely do in the gym?
If you’re looking for a quick but effective ab workout, one of my favorites is to set my timer for 5 minutes and switch exercises every 30 seconds without ever letting my feet touch the ground, even between exercises. A few of the ab exercises I use in a workout like this are: Toe Touches, Bent-Leg Jackknifes, Straight-Leg Jackknifes, Tuck-ups, Ab Bikes, Bent-Leg Hip Lifts, and Russian Twists. You don’t need any equipment other than a mat or carpeted space, but the ab burn is so real!