You may know her as Mankofit. I have come to know Massiel “Massy” Indhira Arias as pure motivation. Massy, born in the Dominican Republic, came to America at only 13 years old and has been fighting ever since. She is very vocal on how her struggle with depression fueled her entire lifestyle and career as a Certified Personal Trainer. Like many women, especially in the African American community, mental illness is something we do not talk about. Therefore, the solutions are scarce. Massy dug deep within herself and began to use working out as her “drug” of choice to overcome the unhappiness she faced as a young woman and now, here she stands proud and strong, also the new mother to her beautiful baby girl, Indira Sarai. Join us as we chat with Massy about what makes her tick and how motherhood has made her a better person.
Black Moms Blog: Hi Massy! Thank you for joining us at Black Moms Blog. Tell us a little about your mission being one of the top fitness instructors in the United States.
Massy Arias: My mission as a health coach and fitness instructor is to educate people on how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Fitness changed my life and gave me my mental health back. I want people to live healthy, to live happy, and to be confident in their body image.
BMB: I know how important it is to you to teach people a lifestyle versus a quick fix to being healthy. How has this vision shaped your business?
MA: More people, especially women are becoming more educated about what they consume. They are catching on to all the new trends and quick fixes they see on social media and other outlets of communication which only solidifies what my business and brand stands for. My business has been shaped in a way where I educate and provide people with the right tools to successfully accomplish their goals. This brand integrity has helped me continue growing and not compromising my believes for anything.
BMB: Speaking of lifestyle, I want to officially welcome you to the mommy hood community! How did you find out you were pregnant and what was your reaction?
MA: I didn’t know I was pregnant since I had lost track of time with work and other projects, never paying attention to my menstrual cycle. I did not have any of the usual symptoms a woman has when expecting. I had scheduled an appointment with my doctor to do a full physical because I thought I was sick with something really serious. I was experiencing cold urticaria, cold chills, inability to warm up, extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate, and some other symptoms.
I had previously taken a few pregnancy tests but they were all negative, or so I thought. A day before I got my results I called my mom and asked her how she read a pregnancy test and she told me to read the full instructions. I never thought to read them before! Found out that the blue line that determined if it was positive or not, did not have to be very pronounced in order to be positive. I had to buy a digital one to be sure. Six tests later and a phone call the next day confirmed it.
I was shocked, scared, excited, nervous, and felt so many other emotions. I just didn’t seem to be ready, but who is ever ready? I let it sink in for another day or two and felt just right.
BMB: What has been the hardest transition so far when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while being pregnant?
MA: There hasn’t been any hard transition. What some people don’t understand is that I truly love and live this healthy life. With time, I have adjusted my palate and my body to crave whole foods in order to look the way it does, but most importantly, perform the way it does. I also cook a lot of my foods and make super delicious recipes that are just a healthy version of a lot of comfort foods.
I understood that what went inside my body was going inside Indira’s and that was enough reassurance that I needed to keep being healthy.
BMB: What does Mommy hood means when it comes to the “Massy Arias” brand? Do you plan on creating fitness plans and workouts exclusively dedicated to mothers?
MA: Mommy hood to me is still very new to me . I am not creating expectations in my head of what it is supposed to be like. I am learning on a daily basis how to be a mother and how to adjust to her, and these changes into my world.
When it comes to plans the great thing is that a lot of the nutrition won’t change much other than emphasis on foods that are key to the baby’s development, and preparation for labor. I think it is key to create a program that will teach women how to eat the right amount of food and nutrients to keep healthy weight gain and decrease a lot of the negative symptoms associated with pregnancy. I had an amazing pregnancy with barely any negative symptoms and I owe it to how I ate and how I strengthened my body.
Since I took a holistic route, I learned so many amazing things that I hope I can share with mothers who want another pregnancy experience, than the one portrayed for centuries.
BMB: What is the normal reaction you receive when people see you working out while pregnant?
MA: That it isn’t good for the baby. That I will induce labor. That this is the time to relax and “enjoy” myself. That I am selfish and do not want to let my body go putting my baby in jeopardy. and a bunch of other negative comments including that Indira was going to be so hyper after I gave birth because I never stopped moving.
Well I had a great labor which was quick in labor standards (very painful but nothing I couldn’t handle). Indira is an awesome baby who lets me sleep and who is calm. And I never induced my labor as I was actually past due being 40 weeks and 2 days.
BMB: What is the biggest myth you have heard when it comes to pregnancy and healthy eating?
MA: Besides all the comments I mentioned above (being huge myths), I think the idea of eating for two is one that is huge in the pregnancy world. if you have a healthy BMI, one only needs 350 extra calories from what you usually eat during the first and second trimester (more if you are underweight), and 500 calories during the last trimester. Processed and refined foods will only add symptoms during a pregnancy that could be totally avoided. Edema, hemorrhoids, constipation, heartburn, and more…
BMB: I know that you had an 8 week challenge in February. Can you tell us a little about that?
MA: More than a challenge which I never determined timeline due to Indira’s birth, the 8-week program was a guide that teaches a lifestyle based on educating about nutrition and providing awesome workout routines that will challenge you to become a better you. The program teaches you how to calculate your macro nutrients to personalize your meals based on your goals and lifestyle. Macro nutrients are what make up calories (PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATES, FAT), and knowing exactly the percentages you need in order to achieve either weight loss, maintenance, or weight gain, in a sustainable way is the right way to establishing a relationship with food that will teach you how to live healthy, look healthy, and use nutrition to your advantage.
For example, knowing the nutritional value of a cup of rice, 6oz of grilled chicken, and 1/2 an avocado, and how you can fit it into your nutrition/exercise plan to achieve your goals will help you not have to sacrifice food and fall into crash diets and fads.
BMB: What message would you like to share with all moms when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while pregnant?
MA: Whether they were healthy before pregnancy or not, my message to all moms to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while pregnant is to strive for progress and not perfection. As long as you try to keep active even if its only 20-30 minutes a day, you are still making progress to maintaining. better than a message maybe I will include some tips that helped me tremendously:
Stay hydrated: not only for energy levels, but to control water retention/edema, and constipation. 3-3.5 liters of liquids. I usually just do water and teas. Sparkling mineral water, infused waters, and teas do a great job of making hydration tasty.
Determine what it is you are craving: is it the saltiness of a pizza, or the sweetness of a pint of chocolate ice cream? you can always make these cravings a lot healthier most of the time and that will minimize the high amount of sodium hidden in processed foods with little to no nutritional value.
For example: if I was craving chocolate ice cream every single day for a week, I would get some plain Greek yogurt with some 100% organic stevia leaf extract and sprinkle some dark chocolate with strawberries on top.
If I was craving a peanut butter and banana milkshake, I would get a plant based protein safe for pregnancy/nursing and make a relish shake for a snack that was high in protein. Vanilla or chocolate plant based protein with a small frozen banana, 2 tbs peanut butter, and unsweetened almond milk. ( I use Tru supplements which you can find at www.gettrusupps.com)
If I was craving pizza, I would grab a whole grain tortilla, put some grilled chicken on top, some marinara sauce with basil and oregano, and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. I would put it in the oven for a few mins and BOOM!
Stay active: when I felt really sick from morning sickness you would think staying on my couch would help alleviate it. In fact, the moment I started to move (in my case since I was very active prior to my pregnancy, I’d go for a run or even a full workout), it would all go away improving my energy levels and my mood. Exercise might appear like a bad idea when you’re sick, but in fact it will help you like no other medication.
BMB: For those who would love to continue following your journey, where can they find out more information about you and your brand?
MA: You can follow my journey below!