Sidona Birmingham hits the gym after battling illness | Lifestyle

Sidona Birmingham thrived on authenticity growing up, enjoying the sound of dirt under her shoes and the feel of wind caressing her face. But as she got older, life happened and fitness took a back seat. That was until she fell ill in 2015, gaining weight in the process. With a gym membership and a personal trainer later, Birmingham got into the best shape of his adult life and entered his calling as a fitness trainer.

“I fell in love with fitness again. I felt better mentally and physically and lost 20 pounds in the process. Not only did I regain my health, but I also took up fitness as a lifestyle by taking on this challenge,” she said The Gleaner.

The journey was by no means easy. A former fitness freak, she had to give it up after being diagnosed with fibroids and an ovarian cyst and stopped walking. But the process and progress of pushing beyond physical and mental limits was certainly worth it, “I was 200 pounds and now I’m 180. I don’t weigh myself anymore. I don’t let the scale define my health. If I feel great and do everything I can to stay healthy, no scale can change that.

A firm believer that health is wealth, she believes that to be truly healthy, mind, body and spirit must be in alignment. “My mental health was my biggest motivation, so I turned to the gym to get the job done. I struggled with self-esteem, but fitness changed that for me. I showed up every day, even when it was hard. I overcame my own insecurities and destructive negative self-talk, those lies you tell yourself to convince yourself you don’t have to show up for yourself that day. In other words, the fear of success,” she revealed.

Birmingham admitted that before her mission she compared her body to that of other women. “My fitness journey has taught me how to not only love myself, but to appreciate my body for what it does, not what it looks like,” she said, adding. “There is no perfect body. We are all unique and beautiful in our own way and so is our fitness journey.”


Not only was she able to transform her own life, but she took those triumphs and lessons learned to help others feel their best as well. Her mother is the real inspiration behind this positive push.

After witnessing her daughter’s transformation, her mother also changed her diet by incorporating exercise into her routine. This greatly helped stabilize her mother’s blood pressure and made her less dependent on medication. Birmingham was happy to witness this in her own family, and it has now become her newfound desire to deliver these results as a fitness trainer.

With an interest in training and nutrition, she realized that 2019 was a good year to pursue her dream. So she enrolled in the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Elite training program and hasn’t looked back since.

“Becoming a fitness trainer has been the best part of my journey. The joy I feel is immeasurable when my client successfully heals from chronic illnesses, all while making healthier lifestyle choices,” she shared.

She started Botanic Fitness, where she provides nutrition tools and tips on how to incorporate exercise routines in a fun, easy and effective way. “It’s been a beautiful journey and one I’m proud to have been a part of. I share as much information and content as possible on my platform to encourage people to prioritize their health, making it a way of life, not a chore. It’s a blessing when someone contacts me to say I’ve motivated them to continue their journey, that’s the only motivation I need to keep going.”

Bringing the party to the workout, she understands that not everyone has the time, based on their busy schedule, to fit in a one-hour session, so there are 30-minute and 45-minute slots available. During COVID-19, when depression was at its highest, she started incorporating step aerobics into the mix.

“I’ve always found step aerobics interesting and was inspired by an aerobics coach on Instagram, so I decided to get a stepper and learn the basics. I couldn’t stop! I was going back to the gym! I decided to share it with others who needed that extra push that I so desperately needed,” she enthuses.

While fun is a key factor, safety is just as important. “Many of my clients have muscle compensations, so I can’t include exercises that add too much stress, which will cause injury. Many of my clients have also had knee and ankle injuries. So I have to keep in mind how their body works to create a program that is effective for their needs.”

Noting that fitness is a marathon, not a sprint, Birmingham provides some health and fitness tips for people struggling to lose weight.

1. Do what you love to stay active. If you like to dance, dance for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week if you are just starting out.

2. Don’t go to the gym if you don’t like it. You don’t need a gym to work out. You don’t need weights either. Only your body weight is enough. Be creative and take it one step at a time.

3. Don’t starve yourself to lose weight. This is the worst thing you can do to your body. Your body needs nutrients to function. Eventually, you’ll succumb to hunger and overeat because you’ve been starving for so long! Instead, cut back on portions and eat smaller meals throughout the day that include protein and plenty of vegetables.

4. If you don’t like vegetables, make yourself a smoothie. Vegetables help you lose weight, so find ways to include them in your diet. Try pairing them with foods you like to eat. For example, if you love chicken, make yourself a delicious chicken salad! Jazz it up a bit!

5. Cook more. Meal prepping helps you stay on track, so pick a day or two to bulk cook, pop it in the freezer, and grab and go. Eating out less helps you watch what you consume.

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