For one local woman, quarantine mandates presented a unique set of choices.
“I work part time at the gym teaching group fitness classes and as a personal trainer,” Jessica Higgins LeBlanc, a Norco resident and part-time employee at Anytime Fitness Destrehan, said. “Prior to the pandemic I was working towards my goal weight, but once the pandemic struck and I no longer had access to the gym I knew I had two paths in front of me – I could spiral into a depression and face serious regressions or buckle down on my eating habits and continue working out at home.”
When quarantine started in March, LeBlanc became determined to use her extra time and energy on tracking her nutrition and staying on track with her health goals.
“I lost about ten pounds overall,” she said. “Even more importantly, I lost visceral fat, which is the dangerous fat. Visceral body fat is the fat you can’t see – it’s the internal fat that surrounds your vital organs. Higher numbers of visceral fat can contribute to insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and more.”
Using an Evolt body composition scanner available at Anytime Fitness Destrehan, LeBlanc was able to track her visceral fat loss.
“I don’t even own a scale at the house,” she said. “My only goal in mind is that I was tracking my food and that my eating habits were on track.”
LeBlanc also used the quarantine to start road cycling and training to ride in an October race.
“I had to move,” she said. “I had to do some sort of exercise every day. It was my therapeutic outlet.”
While she had done some trail riding in the past, LeBlanc said she started on a more serious cycling schedule in February after receiving her first road bike for Christmas. Since then, she has cycled over 2,500 miles – most of which she said has been on the levee. She rides three days a week and averages 80-120 miles a week.
“Honestly a blessing during the quarantine is that we had such beautiful weather,” LeBlanc said, adding that almost every day she and her two children – Kinsey, 12, and Judah, 10 – went on walks or rode their bikes.
LeBlanc said her fitness journey has evolved over the last decade and started after she had her son.
“I would go to the gym two or three times a week, but really wasn’t doing enough,” she said. “At the end of the day you can’t exercise enough for a poor diet.”
After researching and educating herself on different nutritional approaches, LeBlanc said it all boiled down to her ultimately finding what worked for her lifestyle.
“The only goal I have is to see a little bit more of a loss in visceral body fat,” she said. “For some people it’s a weight or a size and that is their goal, but for me it’s never been about a size.”
Feeling nourished, healthy and strong have all been highlights of the journey, LeBlanc said, adding she’ll use her own real-life experience of finding balance in exercise and nutritional health as tools in her work at Anytime Fitness Destrehan.
“When you experience something on a deep level it’ll help you connect with other and related to them,” she said.