I've become obsessed with my forearms as of late.
Checking on them every hour of the day, it seems with every minute they manage to shrink little by little. Don't be fooled, my forearms were never things to be impressed with. The region between my puny bicep and bony wrist has never been my strongest trait, that award is in a three-way tie between my gorgeous face, my genius level of intellect and my humility.
Even though they were never that impressive, I can't shake the feeling of disappointment in my forearms. That shame seems to creep throughout my entire body until eventually, I'm dissatisfied with every inch of me.
I've never been a workout nut but rather exercise to justify the outrageous amount of food that I can consume. The number of burgers that I can pile away would make Archie's pal Jughead blush. Maybe it was the friendly competition between fellow gym-goers, the satisfaction in knowing that if asked I could possibly have the strength to open a pickle jar or the happiness in setting a new goal for myself but working out became a necessary evil that I tricked myself into enjoying.
May is usually around the time when I, and many other people, start taking their health a little more seriously, usually in the vain attempt for the ideal summer body. During the summer I live for the compliments I get on my chiseled physique such as "Meh," "Solid five out of 10" or "You spend all that money at the gym for that?" But with no prospects of hitting the beach or pool anytime soon, I started asking myself the question: Why should I care about my health during these times?
I reached out to health professionals to help me and, hopefully, others reignite that accidental love for being even somewhat healthy, even if nobody is there to celebrate the results.
I've been doing online fitness courses, which is what almost every gym started doing during quarantine, which can help be a motivator during this time. A challenge that I've encountered is if using body weight is enough for an effective workout. Long gone are pull-up bars and weighted barbells; now my exercises consist of running and lots and lots of pushups.
Before Jennifer Wright opened Emersion Crossfit, she exclusively used body-weight movements. The owner and nutritionist at Emersion Crossfit assured that all you need is your body and gravity for thorough physical training.
"It's about volume and consistency," Wright said. "Your body has weight. Focus on time and retention."
The coaches at Wright's gym are there for accountability. Members of the gym are assigned to a coach who oversees the progression of the at-home exercise routines.
"Motivation is so temporary," Wright said. "People think that motivation comes first but action begets motivation."
Wright encourages athletes to find a motivation outside of wanting to look good.
"I think that always if you're training for aesthetics you'll have a brief fitness experience," Wright said. "People that last have different 'whys.' Whether it's to improve their health or their mental health."
Personal trainer Diana Fernandez encourages her customers to pick up items around the house like backpacks and laundry detergent for exercise equipment. Getting the family together to workout can help spread the motivation to move, she said.
Fernandez specializes in weight-loss workouts and lately she's reassured customers that it's not the end of the world if they miss a workout due to the extreme circumstances.
"We're going through a crazy global crisis; it's OK if you don't work out five times a day," Fernandez said. "Don't feel like you have to have it all together. When you come back into the gym your body will respond quicker if you work out as much as you can."
Another component of healthy living is a balanced diet. Nicole Giumarra, a registered dietitian nutritionist, has seen an uptick in customers since the start of stay-at-home orders.
For anyone wanting to start eating healthier, Giumarra wants to dispel the misconception that there are "bad foods" and "good foods." Instead of those labels, she views food in terms of how nutrient-dense they are. Carbs aren't all bad, not all diets are good and most importantly, it's OK to have the occasional sweet.
"There's room for all foods to be engaged in a diet," Giumarra said. "With certain diets people fixate on the things they can't have. Avoid absolutes."
With extra time on people's hands, Giumarra encourages experimentation in the kitchen. She suggests trying out more greens and cooking something new with beans. Just know that nobody should eat based on the shape of their body, she said.
"Someone could have a 'perfect body' with a terrible diet," Giumarra said. "Genetics play a part in how your body is shaped. The goal is to be healthy. Not to look a certain way."