At SparkPeople, we're all about helping people overcome their health and wellness obstacles. Our members face many different hurdles, from eating disorders to mobility issues to simple lack of willpower. That's why we launched SparkPeople.TV: To make fitness more accessible to those facing all types of challenges.
Amanda Young, one of our SparkPeople.TV expert trainers, is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. As a social worker for 15 years, she counseled adults, children and families suffering from trauma, disabilities and mental illness. In 1997, she started teaching group fitness classes and ultimately became an elite fitness instructor in New York City, garnering awards and a feature in Time magazine—all while silently struggling with daily pain.
In 2008, Amanda was diagnosed with a rare disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia, which causes chronic pain that can sometimes be excruciating. Last year, to raise awareness and help find a cure, Young took her struggles public with her Face the Change campaign. "I'm sharing my story in an attempt to help people increase their self-awareness, develop the courage to face their fears and anxieties, boost their self-confidence and live fulfilling and productive lives," she says.
For people struggling with ongoing illnesses, Amanda says fitness isn't only possible, but essential. "I like to think of it as health more than fitness," she says. "Our body is our temple, and while we can't always control what happens, taking care of our health gives us the best shot at living a wholehearted life." Amanda's workouts have helped her better manage her disease by reducing stress levels, alleviating symptoms and boosting self-confidence.
Fitness Q&A with Amanda
What's next on Amanda's agenda? She's currently flexing her entrepreneurial muscle as she starts a new business. Its mission: To help people with chronic illnesses live fulfilling lives and to find ways to take control of their physical and emotional health.
- What's the single most important factor in sticking to an exercise schedule? "Committing to a plan. I tell my clients to put it on their calendar as though it’s a work meeting or conference call they must attend."
- What most excites you about health and fitness? "Empowering others to achieve their own personal health goals. I want people to feel as though it's not a chore, but something they enjoy."
- What's your favorite fitness or health hack? "Dry shampoo, hands down. And paper plates to use as gliders on the floor when I don’t have access to equipment."
- What's your favorite way to reward yourself for hard work? "Sleep. Lots of it. Rest helps me recover physically and mentally."
- How do you inspire yourself to exercise and eat well? "I know I’ll always feel better after exercise. I don’t limit myself by dieting, but instead, I change my eating habits. It’s a lifestyle, not a fad."
- What's something that people overlook when planning a weight loss journey? "I don’t believe in weight loss—I believe in health gains. We focus so much on the scale that we forget being skinny doesn’t make you healthy. Building strength, reducing body fat and having a healthy spirit are the key factors."
- What's your advice for people who are feeling discouraged? "Success is defined only by you. There are so many things we cannot control, but we can control how we view ourselves and our progress. It's important to find positive ways of increasing our self-esteem, being forgiving of ourselves and setting realistic expectations."
- What's your personal fitness routine? "For me, it's all about muscle confusion. I try to do new things I’ve never done, and especially things I’m not so fond of doing. Having a chronic illness sometimes makes it difficult to do what I’d like to do, but I listen to my body, as it tells me what I need."
- What's your favorite motivational quote? “Love the life you live, live the life you love.”
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