LENAH MAONGA: How to maintain body fitness

Kindly introduce yourself to us.

My name is Lenah Maonga and I am famously known as Lenahthefit Physio. I am a physiotherapist by profession with a postgraduate specialisation in orthopedics. I am also a fitness trainer.

What does `fitness’ really entail? Has it got to do with body mass or weight?

Basically, fitness is a state of being healthy and maintaining well being. It has got to do with a lot of elements but most people focus on the physical aspects. In reality, it entails all aspects of your physical, emotional and spiritual being. You are either fit or unfit, right? It all depends on how or which aspect you choose to measure it with.

Under the physical aspect, we get to use the parameters such as body mass, weight, fat percentage, lean mass. Physical fitness is the ability to perform sports, various occupations and also your daily activities like climbing up the stairs. Whether you are running, or sitting at a desk, you need some level of fitness.

This can only be achieved generally  through key elements  of;

1. Proper Nutrition

2. Exercises

3. Sufficient Rest

When it comes to food and nutrition, what should we eat in order to maintain our fitness?

We are a moving system, an energy system, so we need food. There are four types of food which include;

1. The sun

2. Water

3. Air

4. Foods of the soil

The first thing that we need is the sun and it is beneficial to our bodies. We also need water since our bodies are actually made of 70% water. The best kind of water you can take is spring water or mineral water. It is advisable to take water after you wake up, in order to activate your system. Also, take water before you sleep.

The air we breath is important since our body is made up of oxygenated blood. So we need clean air for our body system to function properly. The foods of soil constitute natural foods or whole meal foods. These entail carbohydrates, proteins, fats and minerals. Focus more on eating whole meal foods than processed ones. Processed meals are less nutritious

However, different kinds of people based on their activity levels will require different amounts of food types. For example, one whose job entails a lot of physical activity, e.g gym instructor, construction worker, will need more energy giving foods than a secretary who sits at the desk. This is because if you consume large amounts of food and you take part in less activity, they are stored as fat and this is how weight gain arises.

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Why is it that most slim people takes lots of food but don’t gain weight? And the vice-versa for the fat people. Do other factors also come into play, when it comes to weight gain and loss?

Key factors that come into play are;

1. Under/overestimating your calories

2. Poor training programme

3. Inadequate rest

4. Poor hydration

5. Stress

6. Hormonal issues

What exercises do you recommend for our bodies?

When it comes to exercises, you have to find what programme works for you. Your desoted goals and needs determine the type of exercise you should undertake. Exercises are beneficial for both weight gain and loss. If you would like to lose weight, you need to put your body in a deficit, that is eat less than you actually burn.

The type of exercise will mainly involve strength training, that is allowing your muscles to fall into tension, through resistance. Flexibility allows your joints to move freely and involve exercises such as stretches and yoga. Cardio exercises improve your lung and heart endurance thus make them function better. I advocate for compound exercises  at all times. Compound exercises  are those that target multiple muscles at a time like squats, lunges, push ups, pull ups, rows, deadlift. This is learnt slowly and I still insist on having a professional  to guide you through.

How long does it take to make abs for women who have had babies and are exercising everyday?

I tell people consistency and being patient is key. Every individual will have their different timings but one key thing remains, everyone has abs muscle. The key thing is to reduce your total body fat by calorific deficit; eating less, moving more and finding what programme works for you.

Yes, the tummy can go back to normal or even better postnatally  as the body is marvelous. This is unless complications such as drastic recti occurred and with this guidance from a pelvic  physiotherapist  should make your recovery  process easier.

Diastis  recti  is a condition  where the abs muscle split. It is treatable and once it’s treated you can continue with your goal to have your abs showing.

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It is one thing to want to exercise and another thing to actually exercise. How do we build that momentum such that we actually get to exercise?

Exercising is a lifestyle. You can’t get in with the notion that you will stop after achieving your goals so the first thing is to decide  that you and exercise  are married to each other. The key points are to pick a sport that you like, start small and gradually increase, be up to date with current knowledge  about fitness (that’s where trainers come in) Learn and unlearn  things, find what works for you .

What is the fastest way to ease the muscle pain you get after tough exercise?

 There is no fast way to heal them. It actually takes between 24-48 hours. Thus, you need to take plenty of rest and take lots of water. Alternate your body exercises so that you don’t focus much on a single body part for long. Importantly, make sure you don’t over train. Take a cold bath and have a massage to allow your muscles to heal. Also, focus on your nutrition. .

We live in a society that glorifies overworking, less sleep/rest `burning the midnight oil’ How does this affect our body? And what amount of rest do you recommend?

I think we are slowly embracing rest especially with the numerous vacations and the COVID situation which has forced us to take plenty of rest. There are different areas of rest and it affects your body by allowing your muscles to heal. You need to take plenty of rest after taking part in our daily physical activity. It is during rest, that these changes we desire in our bodies take place.

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