Niña Defensor has always been athletic. But the single mom said her real fitness journey began after she gave birth to her daughter four-and-a-half years ago.
“What served as the catalyst for this journey was when I put everything I had into being able to relactate after two months of losing my breast milk due to stress at work,” she said. “I realized I could create significant changes in my body as long as I was consistent.”
That was also when she started meditating. “It has done wonders for my mental health because God knows so much s–t went down during that period.”
Defensor said practicing meditation every day allowed her to stay focused in all aspects of her life. “I trained to be a fitness coach at a well-known fitness studio, joined a dragon boat team and just made it a point to move every single day, and loved every moment of it.”
Defensor, who owns the barber and tattoo shop Qubo Manila (@qubomnl) where she does permanent makeup, said, “Since the pandemic began, the foot traffic in our barber and tattoo shop has come almost to a complete halt. I’ve had to put my cosmetic tattoo clients on hold, but it has given me more time to deepen my meditation practice, explore my artistic capabilities and focus on being a more present single mom.”
And she’s also spent time exercising, of course.When lockdown started in March 2020, Defensor was working out every day. “I did my own workout programs, attended HIIT Pilates classes by my friend Premyer Tamayo on Zoom as much as I could, and most of those times, I had my 4-year-old, who would serve as my weights.”
Relearning to walk
But halfway into 2020, she crushed her ankle. “I needed immediate surgery to reconstruct my ankle with metal plates and screws on either side of my right foot.”
She spent the first couple of months of 2021 learning how to walk again. But this super mom is determined not to let that setback keep her from her active lifestyle. “I’ve just gone back to working out with a little bit more intensity, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about that.”
My favorite workouts and exercises: I love lifting weights. So since I have not been able to hit the gym, I do body weight training at home using a pair of dumbbells, resistance bands, and my 4-year-old. (Laughs)Workout frequency: I am back to working out three to four times a week. I used to work out six days a week when I would teach at Saddlerow as a rowing and circuit coach and do other workouts outside of my classes.
My fitness must-haves: A good playlist is top priority! I’ve also invested in good workout clothes. A good sports bra and compression tights are very important to me. I mix Xtend BCAAS in my workout tumbler as well and, when I lift, I take my whey protein. I explore different brands with that one.
My workout playlist: My playlists vary according to my mood, of course, so it could range from ’80s, ’90s guilty pleasures to bubblegum pop to grunge and metal. Of course, I have my OPM playlist, too, and that has Razorback, Greyhounds, Wolfgang, as you would know! (Laughs)Do you stick to a strict diet? I never really had a strict diet. It was more of a mindset shift for me. I wouldn’t deprive myself, I’d have it all in moderation. However, the lack of movement during the healing from my surgery caused me to step it up a notch so I’ve been staying away from processed food now and limiting my sugar intake.
Tips for people who want to get healthier: Enjoy the journey. Don’t obsess over the outcome. When you are grateful for movement and health every day, you get to your destination much quicker than expected. INQ