Our Love Squad #showuswhatsreal campaign aims to show the real and imperfect side of fitness. From social media influencers and fitness gurus to everyday people trying to live a healthy lifestyle, #showuswhatsreal is a call to action for us all to accept that our flawed and imperfect selves are worth celebrating!
Our first #showuswhatsreal Q&A is with Kelechi Onyemaechi (@maliciously_fit), a fitness instructor and social media influencer who is currently studying Industrial Engineering at Morgan State University.
How long has fitness played a role in your life? What made you want to pursue a career in fitness in the first place?
Fitness has played a role in my life for as long as I can remember. I played soccer for a total of 9 years growing up and ran track for one year. I chose to pursue a career in fitness after I decided I wanted to lose weight my sophomore year of college. I had gained the “Freshman 15” was feeling very sad. When I began the process of working out again I fell in love – my mood seemed to be getting better and of course my body was changing for the better as well. I began to frequently get asked questions by people who saw my changes and wanted to take that first step for themselves. I realized I wanted to help others change for the better, both physically and mentally.
For many people who follow social media influencers or fitness pros on Instagram or Twitter, their lives, bodies and careers seem perfect because they’re only sharing the “good” stuff. Describe a moment or time when you struggled to reach your goals, and how you overcame that.
This past June, I found myself not having motivation to workout or to eat clean. I had begun to care so much about my physical results that I was punishing myself mentally. I was feeling guilt whenever I ate something “unhealthy”, doing excessive amounts of cardio and not taking time off. In order to overcome this I decided to give myself a mental and physical break. I did minimal amounts of cardio (only when I wanted to clear my head), ate whenever and whatever I felt like eating and decided not to worry about what my body looked like. Surprisingly, by putting less pressure on myself I ended up losing weight and seeing even more progress than before!
Nowadays, there are so many fitness professionals on social media that the field can seem crowded. How do you stand out?
I believe I stand out simply by being myself. I try to focus on the mental benefits of fitness as opposed to the physical, since the physical results will inevitably come. I also try not to only post pictures or videos of myself in the gym, because while fitness is a big part of my life, it is not necessarily my entire life. I find many people get discouraged because they feel as though they do not have the same amount of time that fitness professionals do in order to stay healthy and fit. By showing people you live a normal life outside of fitness it gives them the courage and motivation to find time in their day to start making changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
Everybody has their off days. Describe one routine that helps keep you on track.
One routine that helps me stay on track is not allowing myself to contemplate whether or not I want to workout or choose that healthier meal option. I find that when I allow myself to over think, it lessens the chances of me making the right choice. I’ll find something that gets me in the mood, such as my favorite song, and just get up and go.
What’s a piece of advice that you would give to one of your followers who finds themselves comparing their progress to others and feeling discouraged?
I would advise that person to alter their way of thinking and consider why it is they are changing their lifestyle. When people focus on the progress of others, to me it illustrates someone who only cares about having a better body and not a better mind or soul. I advise people to focus on feeling better mentally and spiritually; the body you want is coming, whether it happens in the amount of time you want it to or not. It will come about quicker the less pressure you put on yourself. Don’t stress if you have a cheat (or treat) meal; life is too short to restrict yourself of things you enjoy! Just know how to balance your lifestyle to fit you.
#showuswhatsreal #kelechionyemaechi #lovesquad