Featuring Bonnie BFit
What does 'healthy' mean to you?
To me, being healthy is a lot more than what you see at surface level. It’s all fine and well having a cracking set of abs or huge biceps, but does that really denote a state of good health? In my opinion, someone who is “healthy” is someone who dedicates themselves to looking after their mind and body. Someone who cares about what they’re eating, who spends time exercising every day, who takes time for themselves to do some yoga or relax. In fact, I’d say that the biggest part of “being healthy” is about what’s going on on the inside, the part that you can’t see. Muscles and a big booty don’t mean anything if you’re not taking care of the inside of your body or of your mental health.
How do you focus on your mental well-being?
Until very recently, I never consciously focussed on my mental well-being. I’ve always been a fairly calm person and rarely get stressed, so I figured it was all just sort of looking after itself. But recently I have been taking the time to ensure that my mind is just as “fit” as my body is. Just because you don’t have a diagnosed mental health “problem”, does not mean that your mental health is in the best condition, and looking after our mind is definitely something we are all guilty of neglecting. Sometimes we don’t feel under pressure or stressed, but it lies sub-consciously in our bodies and our mind. This is why it’s really important to be able to connect with your body and assess how you feel on a day to day basis. Your body will tell you if there is something wrong and it’s crucial that you know yourself well enough to pick up on these signals. Every single day I ensure that I get a good sleep, drink lots of water, go walking outside and do some yoga/stretching or spend just a little time focussing on my breathing and clearing my head. Four things which do not cost you anything and will do wonders for your mental well-being.
Despite having such a busy schedule, do you still find fitting in working out to be a benefit, rather than a burden? For example, is it worth the time during the busy exam period?
First of all, I think the word “busy” gets chucked around a lot, and usually with negative connotations. Being busy is a great thing. It means you’ve got commitments, responsibilities, passions, hobbies and purpose, all of which keep you going and keep you focussed. But no matter how busy I am, I will always find a way to work out because it’s important to me. And it’s not difficult. It might sound tough but anyone who tells me they “don’t have the time” simply aren’t making it a priority. There are people who are in class all day, who have a job in the evenings as well, and yet they manage to find the time to get a workout in. Maybe it means getting up earlier. Maybe it means you don’t spend the evening watching TV. Maybe it means you spend that hour in the gym rather than on your phone. Fitting in my workout isn’t a big deal; it’s just a normal part of my routine now. And at busy or stressful times, that’s when it’s all the more important to be doing it. Who do you think is going to perform better in an exam – someone who rolls out of bed, spends the whole day sitting in the library downing coffee to force their body to keep going, doesn’t really think about what they’re eating, and slumps home after a mentally exhausting day to go sit down some more and watch TV, or someone who gets up early, maybe spends 5-10 minutes doing some yoga, studies for 6-8 hours, heads to the gym, lets off some steam for an hour or two, gets their muscles and body moving, heads home, eats well and gets to bed early? I know that feeling of guilt when it’s exam season and you feel like you shouldn’t be doing anything other than revising, but you’ve got to take the time out. I am 100% confident in saying that it is worth sacrificing an hour or two of studying every day to look after your mental and physical health. And if you don’t trust me, studies have shown that the top students are the ones who do exactly that. So find your little refuge to give your mind the break that it needs. Whether that’s swimming or a dance class or a weights session, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you do will keep your body and mind in a far better condition to perform well in exams and you won’t feel like you’re on the edge of a breakdown every day, which is always a bonus.
As someone who has been exercising for a long time, what advice would you give to those just embarking on their fitness journey?
In the media, a lot of emphasis is put on exercises' aesthetic benefits rather than its health benefits, including mental health benefits. As someone who has built up high levels of fitness, what has motivated you to keep going - what are the main benefits for you?
I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the aesthetic side of things. There are far too many people on social media who take these processed “pre-workouts” to get through their sessions, who promote balance yet can’t eat a pizza without feeling guilty about it for a week, who probably haven’t eaten a vegetable for 20 years but they look fantastic so that’s all that matters right? In my opinion, if you’re doing exercise purely because you wanna look good, that’s not healthy. It comes to a point where you have to ask yourself why you’re really doing this. Sure I lift weights and exercise to look good, but there’s a thousand other reasons why I do it, and it’s absolutely crucial that you set your goals on something bigger than the physical rewards. What motivates me to keep going is myself. I don’t scroll through Instagram looking at fitness models thinking “I wish I could look like that” and running to the gym. I motivate myself by setting goals and smashing them and feeling proud of myself. When you get into it and start to feel good and confident, the motivation will come. And while it’s great to look good, the other benefits are so much more rewarding. I feel happy, I feel confident, I feel strong. I feel like I can protect and look after myself. I feel positive and more capable of dealing with not only my own problems, but those of my friends and family. I have completely transformed as a person in the last few years, and it’s all down to fitness. Just like weight-lifting builds up your muscles, being healthy in your mind and in your body will pick out the best parts of you and make them all stronger. And that feeling is the biggest motivator of them all.
To find out more about Bonnie's work or to get more tips on a healthier lifestyle, follow her on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bonnie_bfit/?hl=en or follow her blog: https://bonniebfitsite.wordpress.com/