Itís not about your weight: 5 tips from body-positive fitness instructor Nikki Torres
(Photo from @nkitorres on Instagram)
Nikki Torres has learned from experience that getting fit isn’t just about changing our physique, but changing how we think about our bodies as well. The NT Sweat instructor and fitness blogger wants you to get strong, not skinny. And don’t let anyone body-shame you out of wearing what makes you feel good.
Here are Torres’ top tips to keep you on track.
Stop staring at the scale.
Torres is as strong as they come, but it took a while for her to mature in the way she thought of fitness. As a young girl, she felt insecure about her big thighs and focused on becoming skinny to match the fashion models in magazines, to the point of going on crash diets and taking weight supplements.
Her life changed when she graduated from college and began taking yoga classes. “All those years I [was] working on my fitness, I never bothered to train my mind and connect with it. And yoga opened my eyes to that,” she shares.
“I began to stop seeing food as the enemy and rather, ate to fuel and nourish my body. I stopped looking at the scale to monitor my weight loss and focused on consistently getting stronger,” says Torres. She found that after a while, she no longer cared what others thought about her body. “It felt liberating and shortly after, my body responded positively.”
Who cares if you don’t have abs?
At Torres’ NT Sweat class, a toning and cardio dance workout set to hip-hop and R&B tracks, she encourages students to work out in their sports bras.
Bucking the traditional mindset that one has to earn the right to show their body, Torres asks: “Who cares if you don’t have abs, or if you have a muffin top? If [your body] is something you work hard with and for, what’s there to be ashamed of?”
Screaming, laughing, singing out loud and cheering each other on. Moving, sweating and not giving a damn. . Out of the head and into the body. Making that connection with yourself and connecting with the strong positive energy around you. . This is the #NTSweat mindset. THIS is the NT Sweat experience. . Cheers to my girls, the #adidasfitsquadph! The opportunity to rock the floor and the stage with you is ALWAYS a pleasure for DJ @luciopua and myself. Let's end the year strong. #WeNTSweat @adidasph @adidaswomen . Shot and edited by: @mniclim
“I’d like for my students to [wear what they want] because they feel beautiful, sexy and strong regardless of your weight, size, fitness level, age, even gender,” explains Torres, who wears whatever belly-button baring outfit she wants, even on days when she feels bloated.
She adds, “I also believe that whatever confidence they gain for themselves inside the studio, they later take with them outside.”
Choose little adjustments over trendy diets.
“Time-bound diets are quick fixes and you can’t be on them your whole life. Stick to something you don’t have to stop doing—a diet that is healthy yet sustainable and enjoyable for you,” says Torres. “It takes a little adjustment in terms of taste but your palate will adjust to the real taste of food if you stop masking them with sugar or sodium-laden condiments and flavoring. Food that is whole, fresh, raw, plain and simple is always best!”
There’s always a better option. Dessert? Choose whole fruits over ice cream. Passing by the coffee shop? Ask them to skip the cream and syrup. Eating out? Fill yourself with veggies first.
“Meal preparation is best in making sure you eat right,” says Torres. “If that’s not possible, list down restaurants or shops that have healthy food options and keep that list within sight so you don’t end up eating fast food when you’re in a hurry to order lunch at work or when you’re stressed.”
Tiny choices matter. Think of every food choice as the Mortal Kombat character you pick to beat Shao Khan...fine, let's say it's the weapon you pick to go into a huge battle. You want it to be powerful and useful to you. . Every decision is either a + or -, a "net gain" or "net loss", a benefit or a waste. And it doesn't have to be boring, it can be as sexy and gorgeous as Jade or Princess Kitana ('kay I'm done with the MK analogy) or this Acai Power Bowl. 💕 Good morning! #foodforfuel #90skid . PS I miss playing Mortal Kombat. 😩
Just because it’s vegan, doesn’t mean it’s always good for you.
“People think just because I am vegan, I automatically stay healthy. While that’s partly true, there’s still a lot vegan junk food available in the market. And they’re not easy to resist!” admits Torres.
Instead of blowing your budget on expensive snacks at high-end health stores, challenge yourself to find healthy ingredients in your basic supermarket that you can prepare yourself.
Also, don’t juice your fruits. “[Just] because something is cold-pressed and fresh doesn’t mean it’s really healthy for you,” says Torres. “If most of what’s in your juice is fruit, leave it. You’re only drinking sugar and leaving the fiber—which is essential—from the fruit out.”
Juice your vegetables but leave your fruits out of it, she says. If you must add a fruit to improve the taste, avoid high-sugar fruits like mangoes and go for low-sugar ones like berries instead.
You don’t need a gym if you have commitment.
How many times have we told ourselves it’s too hard to fit in trips to the gym in our busy schedules, or that gym memberships are too expensive? There’s always a way, says Torres.
Check out one of the many fitness parks popping up around the business districts in Metro Manila. Download a free workout app that you can use at home. Need structure but don’t want to commit to one place yet? “Register for class passes that allow you to try different studios or gyms ’til you find the right one for you in terms of price, programming and your interest in the workout,” says Torres.
“I used to practice yoga with nothing but an audio file of a teacher leading a yoga class with in a vacant space in our office years ago. I did it every night at 6pm with one of my officemates whether or not we were done with work,” shares the former advertising executive. “If we had to finish something, we would go back to our desks after and continue working.”
Torres adds, “[It’s] not the best way to get fit, but it was something that kept us on track. If I was able to do it, anyone can. You just have to be committed and ready to take on the hurdles—and there will be plenty—that will come your way.”