Listen to your body: Your body is more intelligent than you give it credit for. You can get lost while working toward your goals. Your body will let you know if it wants to move forward or needs more time. Taking a step back from being ambitious allows you to look for your strength from within and be realistic with your actions. Remember, do not compare to anyone else but your past self.
The term Blue Zones has been used to describe places where people live long and healthy lives. What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension? In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Phung Tran.
Phung Tran is the founder of Be Active is Easy LLC which aims to help women (especially women of color) to gain confidence in their body image and establish sustainable healthy habits to write a new chapter in their family medical history. As an immigrant to the US, Phung went through a period of adapting to the new culture in which she not only had to overcome the language barrier, but she also had to find a new way to fit being active in her new environment. She now guides women to be true to themselves and build happiness in the routines they do every day.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Thank you for having me. My childhood backstory begins in Vietnam. I was a very active kid in middle school, did sports 3 days a week, and rode a bike around the city daily. I would say that I exercise 10 to 12 hours a week.
All of that changed when I went to high school in America. All of a sudden, I stopped working out. I still ate tons of food. As you might imagine, I ballooned and became a completely different person. If you are an Avatar: The Last Airbender fan, you would be familiar with “everything changed with the Fire Nation attacked.”
Everything in my life was awful. I looked for another chance as I went to college. There, I had a wonderful support group of people who were compassionate, caring, and knowledgeable to help me through this challenging time. With time, I could recover, love my body again, and now help other people do the same!
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
You never know what might happen. In my field of exercise science and personal training, there are so many different flavors and methods that coaches tend to utilize. At the beginning of 2022, I transitioned from a traditional gym trainer to a barbell trainer. Honestly, the experience has been out of this world.
One of the first things I stopped doing was not making people do an exercise for 6 to 8 repetitions. You see, a lot of weight makes lifting them hard. 6 to 8 repetitions are no longer a consideration. I also started doing barbell training, and my strength has since exploded. I cannot believe how strong I am now! My clients find themselves being able to do everything that they want to do in old age. Can you think of a 74-year-old frail lady to be able to pick up a box of Vodka from Costco? Well, that happened. Strength training is truly amazing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am very grateful to have been able to receive a lot of help and assistance from my mentors. I have to thank 2 people specifically for what I am currently doing, my professor Mr. Rohleder, from the university, and Ms. Lee, from the Asian Pacific Islander American Mentorship Program. Mr. Rohleder helped me revive and run our small student organization for Exercise Science students. We worked with each other for over 4 years, and he inspired me to start a business with just small business ideas. He did not even talk to me at the time, but I happened to be in the room. Seeing how one can help people have fun with exercise while making money was very intriguing. And Ms. Lee spent time with me once every month. We have fun sharing our stories, and she keeps up with my business progress. She ensures that I have to move forward and dispels any self-doubt I have about myself.
You are a successful leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Thank you for the compliment. I have a couple of traits I actively work on to be a competent leader. The most important trait is to “learn from my mistakes.” It is normal when I encounter failures. What I do from there is much more important. Instead of repeating the same thing repeatedly, I analyze what I think goes wrong and find solutions to the problem. One also needs to be compassionate and actively listen to the people around them. My work involves me meeting with people from all walks of life. Listening to their accomplishments and worries improves my skills as a trainer. I can communicate with people better, serve their needs, and ultimately improve their health. Last but not least, always learn something new. Knowledge is not about going to school. One can learn to manage their finances, cook better meals, or even care for an animal.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I personally believe in coaches who say they do not need certifications or scientific knowledge and instead ONLY use their “experiences” to serve their clients. I am someone who believes in learning and science. I went to college to study Exercise Science and how exercise can impact a body’s anatomy, physiology, psychology, and more! I am a Certified Exercise Physiologist (click the link and look up my name), and I understand what I can and cannot do (unlike some flashy trainers out there).
Each person needs a personalized fitness program, one that is built on science. So many people jump into the latest fitness or diet trend without realizing what it might do to them. Are you someone who has an office job? The keto diet might not be the best for you. Did you have an ACL tear in the past due to an unfortunate event? Squat can be a problem. Blindly copying what other people do online will not lead you to the results you want; worse, it might cause even more problems. My clients trust me because I follow the LIFE Standard and am unafraid to let them know I might need to do more research before answering their questions. By working with me, the client can detail their past experience, current goals, and future aspirations so we can work together toward a better place both physically and mentally.
Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a mythical potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.
I sort of answered this question earlier. I am on the path to learning barbell training and growing my online business. The “elixir of life” is to realize that I can do so many more things with just strength training. Nothing is more empowering when I see people continue to confound themselves with their newfound abilities to break their age stereotypes. I have been on a journey to reduce my odds of getting osteoporosis and other age-related problems. These two are the biggest problem for all the women out there. You would never know how exhilarating it is to be able to bend down and pick up stuff from the ground at 80 years old OR to throw some 300-lb man down the floor as a lady. Strength training will give you that unrealized potential hiding inside.
Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? (Please share a story or an example for each)
There is no magic pill to guarantee a long life, but there are specific lifestyle changes you can make to improve your odds. My approach to living a long and healthy life involves nourishing the body and mind.
- Exercise regularly: I might be biased, but I am fully advocating for being active as the magic pill to living a long and healthy life. By exercising, you can continue building and maintaining strength throughout your life. You can conquer new summits with the activities that you are doing. You can make meaningful relationships in your groups. Best of all, science has proven that exercise can significantly reduce your risks of getting chronic diseases, which are the things we do not want to deal with later on in our lives.
- Make sure you sleep well: You should spend around ⅓ of your day sleeping! It is a non-negotiable part, and it does not require any effort. Seriously, turn off your lights, close your eyes, and enter your brain. Your body works to prepare itself while you sleep. That is why you feel tired when you do not sleep well. For more about the benefits of sleep, I recommend you check out the book Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker.
- Listen to your body: Your body is more intelligent than you give it credit for. You can get lost while working toward your goals. Your body will let you know if it wants to move forward or needs more time. Taking a step back from being ambitious allows you to look for your strength from within and be realistic with your actions. Remember, do not compare to anyone else but your past self.
- Explore new things: We live in the age of the Internet. There is new information being published every day. Why not utilize our fortune to better ourselves? The new things do not have to strictly be academic performance. You can explore a new hobby, a new field of study, or even a new relationship. Buckling from old habits are the new keys you need to open more doors.
- Get a pet: Such a random suggestion, right? Having a furry companion brings out a different side of you. You must be more responsible for ensuring the creature is doing well and enjoying its life. It is an important skill rather than dealing with machines all day.
Can you suggest a few things needed to live a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning?
Having enough for your basic needs is one way to live a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning. I recommend people journal daily to bring everything to the next level. There are thoughts that you might want to keep private. Journaling helps you safely release your ideas so that you can see what happened much more clearly.
Staying fit and active is important for me. I take care of myself by making sure that I actively put my stress out using exercises — it is great to be able to bash things while you are mad at someone or something. Strength training has been a focal point in my life, and I am working toward having more people explore this type of training.
There are new updates for strength training and its benefits. Most of our parents, especially our women, are not encouraged to train for strength or even exercise in general. The notion has done a disservice to all of us. As we age, we need more strength training than ever to keep living our life the way we want, instead of relinquishing to aching joints and back pain.
Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?
Nature vs. nurture is as old as a chicken and an egg argument. None of which is more important than the other. You need to nurture your body when listening to nature.
Let us take cancer as an example. Only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects. The rest 90–95% have their origin in the environment and lifestyle. The biggest threat to you developing cancer is smoking. You can always do your best to curb cancer risks by sleeping well, exercising regularly, and keeping your mind relaxed. While there are some lucks regarding a hereditary disease, you can improve your odds.
Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?
I am not going to sugarcoat that life is fun and bubbly; it is certainly not. The best way to bounce back from setbacks is to seek help and prepare yourself for a new pivot. Like everyone, the pandemic threw a huge blow in my life. My job is to work with people in person. Social distancing did not allow that to happen for a while.
Instead of giving up, I switched my business into an online presence with a blog and an Instagram page. It was initially very hard since I was not used to using social media at all. But I got to meet with so many people from all around the world. It is very encouraging to see my new friends learning something new and start exercising regularly. I began to have clients online, which created a more flexible workplace for me, which I did not think possible in the past.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
You know that I am a fan of the series, Avatar the Last Airbender. My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” is also from the show! The quote is by the wise Uncle Iroh, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again. Only this time, more wisely.”
You might know by now. I am someone who obsesses with making mistakes and learning from them. I no longer have to play it safe or stress myself to be a perfectionist. Instead, I open myself up to opportunities of a lifetime by being adventurous. Life comes with twists and turns. Nobody knows what lies ahead of us. We never know until we try.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to organize a movement to encourage people to do resistance training in a supportive group, similar to the “Couch to 5K” challenge. Resistance training is such an excellent addition to anyone’s exercise routine, yet it is neglected by most people. It is a pet project named Fun Fitness with Friends, that I am currently working on improving to serve even more people.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
Anyone interested in building an exercise routine that works based on their schedule and preference, take my What’s Your Hidden Potential Quiz!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.