Working toward a goal
Fitness trainer and entrepreneur Cassey Ho has won a large audience through her online fitness videos and social media presence. She sees fitness and nutrition as the keys to a balanced and healthy lifestyle. She is also outspoken about the importance of having a healthy, positive body image. Cassey spoke to NIH MedlinePlus magazine about her work and shared advice for others looking to improve their fitness and overall wellness.
Research has clearly shown that regular exercise has many health benefits. How do you view the relationship between physical fitness and overall health and well-being?
Fitness is all about building mental, emotional, and physical strength. When you’re able to find the joy in your daily movement—like finding a workout that makes you smile—that is when you will find consistency. And guess what? Consistency is the key to seeing real changes in your body and your life.
What’s your take on individual differences when it comes to having a healthy, balanced lifestyle?
Everyone is different. We each have a different genetic makeup, we come from different ethnicities, and we have different needs and wants. So how can we possibly be prescribed the same eating plan and workout regimen? It is important to understand that what works for one person may not work for another. It took me many years to finally realize that.
For a long time, I would compare my body to others and get frustrated that someone could eat burgers and pizza all day and have six-pack abs while I would consistently eat salads and still have a soft belly. Understanding that not all bodies are created equal helped me find peace with my body instead of always fighting it.
Why is it important to be willing to try new things?
I love feeling challenged. If I am not working towards a goal, learning a new skill, solving a problem, or just doing something outside my comfort zone, then I feel stagnant. New experiences allow you to find out new things about yourself, and that is such a gift! Trying something new and failing? That’s the ultimate gift. Why? Because you become your strongest self when you have to get up and try again.
What is your advice to someone who is just getting started or thinking about getting started?
It’s always nice to follow a calendar or routine of some sort, as it takes the thinking and decision-making out of doing a hard thing. I schedule time in my calendar for my workout. It gets the same importance and urgency as an event, a meeting, an appointment, or a date because it is a commitment to myself, my health, and my happiness. Try to find someone to do it with you, someone to keep you accountable.
A lot of your fitness focus has been on Pilates. What is it and what do you like most about it?
Pilates is a low-impact, mind-body exercise that focuses on strengthening your muscles while improving flexibility through beautiful, graceful, controlled movements. What I love most about it is that it feels like a dance on the mat and can be done without any equipment.
How do you think about food and healthy eating as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle?
Food is fuel. If you don’t give your body the food and beverages to help you meet your goals, you may not feel energized enough for an intense cardio routine or be able to build the muscle you want in your weightlifting regimen. I like to keep a food journal so I can take notes on what foods make me feel good and those that do not work for me.
What are some ways to stay motivated with good exercise and nutrition habits?
Ask yourself why: “Why am I doing this?” If you have a strong “why,” it will take you through the toughest of times. This works for anything in life.
What is your message to others about the importance of maintaining a positive body image?
The way your body looks in the mirror does not determine your worth. Same thing with the number on the scale. Your body is simply a vessel for you to carry out all the amazing things you are meant to do on this earth. Focus on reaching your potential, following your passion, and letting your body be your body, not your obsession.