Answering my Most Asked Fitness Questions

A Black woman with braids dressed in a black camouflage sports bra and shorts showing her physique at home.

I do quite a few of the drop a question into the box on my Instagram Stories and a lot of the questions I receive are heavily related to health and nutrition. Some days I get a lot of questions and it can take me a whole day to go through them all. I want to make sure that I answer them in depth to help and serve everyone. I do collect all the questions that I receive either on my Instagram Stories or through my comments so I can create more content around them. So I thought it would be a good idea to answer the most asked fitness questions in today’s post! I also thought that it would be a great way for you to add this post as a reference so you can easily come back to search for what you are looking for. However, if you do have any other questions about my personal life, skincare/haircare, blogging, travel etc. please drop any additional questions that you have about me in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer them.

A Black woman with braids wearing a navy blue sports bra with turquoise shorts at home showing her physique.

Fitness Journey Questions

What are your top tips to increase your strength on squats?

My four top tips to increase your strength on squats are:

  1. Squat often, at least two to three times a week. You can also do variations of the squat movement.
  2. Check your form. Is your stance correct? Are you bracing your core and keeping your body tight? Film your lifts and critique your form. See where you need to make adjustments.
  3. Aim to squat deeper. If you are unable to, drop the weight until you learn do hit depth.
  4. Improve lower body mobility by warming and priming your muscles before your lift. Strengthen your leg muscles with accessories such as Bulgarian split squats, leg extensions, unilateral leg press for quads; Romanian deadlifts, lying leg curls, seated leg curls, good mornings for hamstrings; seated and standing raises for calves.

How do you focus on strength vs the way that you look?

I struggle with this more in my offseason and it’s hard. The first thing I ask myself is: why did I choose to powerlift and what is my why? The answer to that is always the same. I want to be confident, I want to be strong. I want to challenge myself to do things that seem impossible in my mind. It’s not easy for me to look in the mirror at times. It’s harder when society paints an image of what a woman should like. It makes it even harder as Black woman since I don’t fit the Eurocentric standards of beauty and image of a woman. That’s where my power lies. I don’t want to fit in a confined box but I want to take up all the space that I can and slay in it. I focus more on what my body can do for me instead of what it looks like. Strength training is empowering and has sculpted my body with muscles and beauty that relates to what makes me happy. I became confident. I became strong and continuously challenge myself to do the impossible.

What are ten things you wish you would have known about powerlifting?

I wish I had known that:

  1. The stronger I got, the harder it would have been to hit personal records (PRs).
  2. Sleep is underrated. Training only counts for 20% of the actual work.
  3. Great progress takes time.
  4. Find people that support you through the highs and lows
  5. Form over weight 100%
  6. Powerlifting is more of a mental game than a physical one. You’ll be tested a lot.
  7. You’ve got to remain disciplined to keep pushing when it gets heavier.
  8. Create a healthy routine both for your body and mind.
  9. Never say never
  10. Celebrate all your wins, both big and small.

How often would you advise someone to exercise if they are not active at all?

For any kind of exercise especially lifting, I would advise starting out with two to three training days with four rest days for the first three weeks. It will be a shock to the body if you are not active at all and you will need those rest days for recovery. After the three weeks, you could probably add a fourth session as your body will get used to the movements. First and foremost, always listen to your body. If adding an additional session is too much, then stick to three sessions and be consistent at that. The last thing you want to do is overtrain yourself and risk an injury.

A Black woman with braids in a squat position wearing a red sports bra and leggings with African design in a park.

Meal Prep, Health and Nutrition Questions

Do you bulk prepare your meals or prep day by day?

I bulk prepare my meals on Sundays for the week. I find it easier for tracking and less time consuming than prepping it day by day. I usually plan what I am going to eat for the week the Friday before, shop for it all on Saturdays and cook everything on Sunday. It means that I’m prepared to hit my goals for the week and it stops me from grazing my pantry and fridge searching for food.

Do you track your meals? What is your take on that?

I track my all my meals on the app MyFitnessPal, I only track my macros (macronutrients) such as protein, fat, carbs and fibre and not calories. I find that tracking macros as opposed to calories gives what you are eating more substance because you are making sure that you are eating enough of a certain type of nutrient. However, with calories, I feel like you can eat whatever as long as you hit that certain calorific number. It lacks structure to me. Although, I do understand that tracking macros is not for everyone.

I struggle with making healthier choices, what can I do to eat healthier?

Here are some daily habits that have helped me to make healthier food choices when I struggle at times:

  • Drinking water first thing in the morning and around meals
  • Adding more fruits and vegetables for fibre, vitamins and minerals to keep you fuller for longer
  • Eat a protein source with each meal to increase strength, to build muscle and to improve the health of your hair, skin and nails.
  • Eat slowly and without distractions
  • Eat treats in moderation. Eating healthier doesn’t mean that you should stop eating your favourite foods
  • Establish a consistent day-to-day meal pattern

You’ll be surprised how much improvements you’ll see by focusing on these daily habits.

An open book with a quote with a mug, an artificial plant, and a candle in the background.
Drawing inspiration from my environment and taking courses to grow in the future

Mindset and Mental Health Questions

How do you celebrate the small wins?

I like to celebrate my small wins by first recognising the achievement and being present in it. It’s easier to celebrate the bigger ones because of their magnitude but without the smaller ones, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d either celebrate them by allowing myself to feel accomplished without knowing or focusing on the next steps. I never downplay my small wins but learn to glow in that achievement. My hard work got me there so giving it that recognition that it deserves teaches me that my work, my life and my purpose has meaning and it deserves its time in the spotlight.

When you feel down do you take a mental health day to reorganise or do you work through it?

I believe taking days off for your mental health and for your overall well-being is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. I use my sick leave as mental health days and depending on how I feel, I may just sleep or I’ll read, do some breathing exercises or work on doing meditations to build up my mindset. I don’t believe that working through it helps at all because you are already feeling down and it will make it worse. I lean into doing self-care activities that I love that to help me feel refreshed, relaxed and happy. When I’m feeling really down or stressed, it’s usually because I haven’t prioritised a daily “me time” in my schedule. As for my overall well-being, I’m learning to prioritised a day per month where I take care of my body’s wellness that is separate from my mental health days.

How do you stay motivated with your fitness goals?

Motivation and discipline are on two sides of the same coin. I hardly use motivation to get me to the gym and work my fitness goals. I’m at the point where I’m disciplined to do so because I have worked at it for years and my ‘Why’ is so strong that nothing can stop me.

For someone who is starting out with their fitness goals, you need to treat your fitness goals as an investment. Each time that you are going to the gym and choosing healthier food choices is like adding a deposit into that investment. I would say to forget about being motivated and focus on growing your investment in your health. Motivation can be fleeting. You can be motivated today, and tomorrow be in a completely different space yet both days have the same end goal. Being motivated won’t get you to that end point but it’s the habits that you will practice daily that will get you there. Habits such as packing your gym bag, throwing on your gym clothes, putting on your gym clothes, getting to the gym etc. Some seasons may be harder than others, but every step along the ways adds up to your investment. Your health and fitness goals are an investment in yourself. What you do today, your future self will thank you for it.

A Black woman with braids standing to the side with her legs crossed, wearing a black camouflaged sports bra with turquoise gym shorts at home.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! I hope that it was helpful and informative. If you want to know more about me, please check out my Instagram page. Drop any other questions you have for me in the comments and I’ll answer them. I know that my posts have been less frequent this month and I’m slowly trying to get back into the rhythm of things since I’ve been back from my holiday. It will be picking back up in the coming week.

Until next time,

Folakemi

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