wit#3 | A chat with Teresa, speaking about wellness and self-care
Those of you who have been following me since the beginning (since 2021, to be precise) know that I had given birth to wit - an acronym for what I think - a section on contents that concern me more closely, sometimes even delicate to deal with. After more than a year, therefore, here I am back with a theme that is very close to my heart: fitness and taking care of yourself.
If you haven't read the first article, I leave it to you here, because it is related to what you are about to read.
For this post, I thought I'd ask a special guest, Teresa, for a hand ( @hyper.terry), Personal Trainer and Nutritionist, as well as - as most of you already know - one of my dearest friends.
In this case, therefore, we can say that the wit transforms into a wwt (what we think) in which we look for to address together some issues related to the world of fitness (or wellness, you will soon find out why), trying to dispel some myths and giving some advice to better enjoy your journey.
Let's start with some questions; legend: T - Teresa, G - Giulia (duh?).
I know that in your profession you mainly deal with women's training, what is your mission?
T: My mission is to make women and girls appreciate the true essence of personalised physical activity and correct nutrition. I try to summarise this essence in four words (a daring game): wellness, prevention, lifestyle, sustainability. You may have noticed that I prefer to use the term "wellness" rather than just "fitness". This is because this term is the union of wellbeing and fitness, which intends to define an all-round well-being and psychophysical balance. In fact, my motto is "not only outside, but above all inside".
What are the things we women ask you the most in terms of goals to achieve?
T: I'll try to be brief this time: weight loss and aesthetic shape.
The cornerstone of my work is precisely this, to change the point of view of my clients and women in general, also through social networks and exchanges of opinions. I try to make them understand that there may be other goals: well-being, improvement of strength, improvement of posture, autonomy in knowing how to eat. Slimming and aesthetic shape are only 'pleasant consequences'!
What, in your opinion, are the reasons that most lead to leaving a few months later
the start of a fitness journey?
T: The answers are varied; let's try to analyse them together:
do not rely on a professional in the sector
As with everything, you need a professional who plans and follows your workouts over time, to keep motivation high and to make you perceive the improvements, thus giving you the incentive to continue. Especially for a woman/girl, entering a weight room for the first time is not easy and therefore you risk ending up on the treadmill and doing a few sets of abdominal exercises and that's it
relying on untrained and unqualified people
We don't even comment on this one because it speaks for itself
following training programs and nutritional plans that are not sustainable in the medium/long term, but this is a concept that deserves to write a book.
Even if today, many professionals in the sector have passed or have never supported the theory of the so-called "bro diet" (Editor's note for the less experienced like me, the famous "bro diet" - or refrigerator diet - is the one usually adopted by bodybuilders and consists of very few foods: rice, chicken, broccoli and cod) and exhausting and unweighted workouts with caloric intake, there are still those who follow this trend, for me obsolete and not at all sustainable. What is certain is that this type of diet and training lead to results faster and, consequently, leave room for the "coaches" to post incredible before / afters on their social pages, after only three or four months. But we should also think about the before / after of people on an inner and emotional level! Why reduce everything to an aesthetic/physical change? Deprivations and/or problems related to eating disorders that may derive from them, such as hormonal problems or problems related to sociality, are important issues, more important than mere aesthetic change. Everything can be done while respecting the health and psycho-physical well-being of the person. So why not do it? The shortest way, in this case, is absolutely not the best.
G: To this professional comment, I take the liberty of adding a more gut one, based mostly on my experience.
Some often ask me (almost reproaching me) how I manage to always be so motivated and train constantly. It hasn't always been like this actually. There were moments, especially after an initial enthusiasm phase, where I really wanted to give up; times when the mere idea of having to get ready to go to the gym made me distressed. This happened to me because, having initially focused my path only on purely aesthetic objectives, not seeing results discouraged me. I particularly remember a period in which I had probably reached a plateau phase, after an initial exponential improvement (typical of those approaching the world of fitness for the first time), in which I said to myself 'enough, I don't have the slightest desire to continue with this torture'.
I completely changed my perspective after shifting my goals to different things: strength, endurance, progressive loads. This has started to energise me, every single day; and this energy slowly turned into discipline, routine.
The thing that, to date, hasn't made me give up yet is precisely the routine - making training an integral part of my day. This really makes a difference, because - as James Clear says in his book Hatomic Habits' ("a habit is a routine or behavior that is performed regularly and, in many cases, automatically), creating a habit makes daily actions almost automatic; basing training on a routine, instead of on motivation that comes and goes, makes it much more solid, persistent over time.
In the past, as I said a little while ago, I too fell into the trap of being obsessed with the perfect body, according to you, it is always right to be so rigid in terms of nutrition and training?
T: Let's get to the heart of this interview: I admit that I too was a slave to an obsession with aesthetics that practically didn't lead me to anything, except to almost want to compete . Why? Because I couldn't be honest with myself, I never saw well, I lingered over some useless trifles...and then I made up excuses not to go out to dinner, I made a thousand problems organising trips!
I then understood, above all through studies and comparisons with other professionals, but even more by experiencing it myself, that life is much, much more. Well-being is a different thing.
Here, however, we must make a fundamental distinction when we discuss this topic: this article is aimed at non-athletes, as the world of elite athletes, who compete a certain number of times a year, is quite another thing and, often, does not follow this type of reasoning.
G: Improving the aesthetic shape, I admit, is also what I was aiming for five years ago, when I turned to my friend Teresa for some advice on my very first approach to weight room. I remember that period very well, I was extremely dissatisfied with what I saw in the mirror, almost obsessed. It took me a long time (perhaps years?) to understand that, beyond the physical form, the abs, the muscles drawn on the body, there is more: there is the satisfaction of seeing one's aerobic and anaerobic capacity improve by week after week, to be able to increase one's strength, to perfect the form and execution of the exercises.
Sometimes finding the right compromise between feeling good inside and out, without letting yourself be overwhelmed by constant paranoia, is very complicated. It helped me a lot to talk about it with friends and compare myself with other people and, above all - as I said earlier, to change my perspective and move my goals to something else.
Shall we debunk together three myths related to the female world and the world of fitness?
T: Of course, here they are.
Cardio is essential in a training routine: LIE
Cardio should be contextualised based on the person's lifestyle and goal: I would recommend it to those who, for example, have an inactive lifestyle due to a very sedentary job. I would never insert endless cardio sessions to "burn more" where it is already possible to monitor nutrition and workouts.
women shouldn't train the upper part otherwise they become too muscular: LIE
The female organism is not genetically inclined to develop "significant" muscle volumes. Training the upper part, on the other hand, helps in postural terms and allows you to develop the right harmony between the lower and upper body.
women should use low weights and increase the number of repetitions: LIE
Training must be defined on the basis of many variables; it is not possible to establish the "right" training method in advance, but all the aspects that contribute to achieving the goal must be carefully evaluated.
I know that recently you gave an interview on Virgin active in collaboration with Donna Moderna magazine on how training changes during the phases of the menstrual cycle , would you like to talk about it?
T: It was a great experience because the focus was on debunking the false myths of training during the menstrual cycle. Three of us intervened during the interview: me, an endocrinologist and a nutritionist.
I'll let you get to the heart of the interview by sharing two salient questions with you:
Intense pain during your period: no sport?
There is no contraindication, on the contrary! Training, albeit with a lower intensity than usual, allows you to develop endorphins, chemicals produced by the brain with pain-relieving and analgesic properties. So? Does exercising help reduce period pain? Yes, that's right.
Does the workout always remain the same in the 3 phases?
Some studies show that a different type of training can be set up, depending on the phase of the cycle in which a woman is:
Follicular phase: strength training with overloads
Ovulatory phase: endurance and strength
Luteal phase: start lowering loads and volumes, working on technique because the pre-menstrual and menstrual phase is approaching
So just before your period, yes to pilates/yoga/mobility/stretching/jogging.
In my opinion, choosing to program a woman's workouts based on the phase of the menstrual cycle would become too cumbersome; what I would do, as a professional, is listen to the client, sensing her mood and will on the most "difficult" days, monitoring in this sense the choice of exercises to offer during the workout.
What advice do you feel like giving to people who are now approaching the world of wellness? And what advice would you give to people who are already in it?
T: The approach to wellness and self-care must be guided and gradual; live it with the right balance right from the start, in order to guarantee its sustainability over time, over the months and over the years.
For those who have already taken this path, I would invite you not to go to extremes, not to seek the
perfection at all costs because you risk entering a vortex that is more harmful than beneficial. Think that life is long and that the longer well-being is, the more it will accompany us on our journey.
What advice do you feel like giving to all the people who are reading this article?
T: Take care of yourself, always!
Do it respecting yourself and your priorities.
Do it to live better.
Do it for the present but above all for the future: a healthy and strong body will face the various situations of life (for example a pregnancy or recovery from an operation) and the advancement of age in a better way.
Do this to prevent disease.
Do it for you, for the deepest part of you.
Who is Teresa?
Teresa Cianfaglione (@hyper.terry on instagram) she has been a professional in the wellness sector for a long time now
seven years old and plays the role of personal trainer and nutritionist biologist. He mainly deals with
female training but she has been breathing the air of the gym since she was a child.
His passion for this sector has grown over the years and has implied a long study and training path, which is a guarantee of authentic professionalism:: Bachelor's Degree in Motor and Sport Sciences, Master's Degree in Activity Sciences and Techniques Preventive and Adapted motor skills, "Personal Training" training course with an institution recognised by the CONI, Master's degree in Human Nutrition Sciences, State exam as a Biologist, with consequent registration as a Nutritionist Biologist.
Teresa currently works at Virgin Active in Milan as a personal trainer, with one-to-one lessons, and practices the profession of coach and nutritionist biologist, also online.
It was certainly the passion for sport handed down to her by her father, a physical education teacher, that pushed her towards that path. She practiced many sports: rhythmic gymnastics, dance, swimming, women's futsal, volleyball, basketball, skiing, athletics and others. She was successful at all kinds of sports, not particularly excelling at any, but activities always kept her alive and always made her feel good. After high school, after various reflections and quite a few discussions with the family, she enrolled in physical education and approached the world of the gym, the real one, the one with machines and weights, so to speak. And there it was love at first sight, because, as she herself admitted, "I believed and still believe that the gym is the means to improve the performance of an athlete who practices a specific sport but also the tool, for those who don't practice one, to take care of your well-being and to always improve yourself.