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Fit Feature: Haslett’s Hayley Emmons pushes back from injury

Stay-at-home orders have altered the way Hayley Emmons, 33, of Haslett, stays fit. 

“With no access to a gym during this COVID-19 pandemic, workouts have changed to more body-weight exercises and resistance/mini-band movements,” she said. “It’s amazing how effective the basics still are, like jumping jacks, air squats, lunges, push-ups, and sit-ups. By adding in moves like mountain climbers, jump squats or burpees, there are still a lot of great ways to stay active.” 

Emmons has never been so focused on her health. She bounced back from a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2018, joining State of Fitness in East Lansing, and putting a premium on her health. 

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“My focus was to get back to running after surgery, but I found myself at my heaviest by the end of 2018,” she said. “I felt completely out of my comfort zone – and a little intimidated, to be honest – but I knew I needed something more. Working out has become something that I do for me, and by making it a priority, it feels like an investment in my future.” 

She said she mixes up workouts between strength and conditioning. 

“On a strength day, there’s always the stretching and warm-up followed by sets of high weights and low repetitions,” she said. “Conditioning days consist of higher repetitions, lower weights, and higher intensity training. These days are more cardio-focused, and I’ve lately been focusing on getting – and keeping – my heart rate at a sustainable aerobic pace.” 

Emmons said she used a certified nutritionist to fine-tune her diet. It’s helped her stay healthy and balanced.

“I began focusing on vegetables and getting enough protein each day,” she said. “I prefer to take in protein through natural sources like egg whites and chicken, but occasionally rely on protein drinks or collagen to meet my goals. My husband and I naturally don’t consume a lot of carbohydrates and focus on eating as clean and simple as possible. Even though I work from home full-time, I still prefer convenience in meal preparation.I’ve learned over the last year that calories aren’t something to be afraid of. By balancing fats, carbs, and protein, I’ve developed a new relationship with food.” 

She said life happens and when she’s faced with cravings, she finds ways to get by them. 

“The 80-20 or 90-10 rules are great guides to follow. We’re naturally going to dine out or get together with friends,” she said. “But if we’re cognizant of being nutritionally on track most of the time, then we should also be able to enjoy moments where we’re just present, and not counting or tracking.”

Being healthy isn’t something you have to do alone, either. Emmons said the help she received from her trainer and others at the gym has been a great help. 

“In 2019, I lost 50 pounds with help and support,” she said. “I attribute a lot to the community and accountability that the gym provides,  as well as amazing encouragement from my husband (who has also made a very impressive fitness journey of his own in the last year). Establishing a fitness routine, and making my health a priority, has impacted my lifestyle in countless ways. I have more energy, projects around the house are easier, I’m able to participate in more races, and I feel better overall.”

Her advice for others? Make goals, big and small, and realize that there can be setbacks. 

“Many aspects of fitness can be intimidating, but I’ve learned there are always modifications, regressions, progressions, etc. that can help accommodate your current state of fitness,” she said. Some days will be harder than others, you may gain weight even after feeling disciplined for a week. Staying consistent and not getting discouraged is equally important. Part of progress should also be rest and recovery.”

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