( ENSPIRE She Did That ) From Basketball Player to ESPN Analyst, Monica McNutt Enlightens People on Proper Health and Wellness
ENSPIRE Contributor: Megan Sydow
Monica McNutt has lived a life full of health and wellness; former standout guard on the Georgetown women’s basketball team and current sports analyst for ESPN. She has a strong love for health and wellness that transcends into many parts of her life. Monica is also a strong advocate and voice for proper representation in the health and wellness industry, emphasizing the importance of women of color’s representation in sports.
McNutt’s experiences in both the health and wellness industry and sports industry have given her the chance to cultivate a strong presence. She is a role model for both women of color and a woman of color in the health and wellness industry.
We define health and wellness as the state of being and the state of living a healthy lifestyle. McNutt has broken down that definition into mental, physical, and emotional health. She says these aspects are connected and intersect with one another, creating a symbiotic relationship.
“I know for me being able to be active physically helps keep me steady mentally and even emotionally,” says McNutt. “I have gone to work out to get through some emotional challenges, whether it be a loss of a family member, a breakup, or even to celebrate. I go to the gym to look as good as I feel.”
McNutt acknowledges that nutrition isn’t entirely healthy all the time— there are going to be those days when sugary foods sound way better than healthy foods; she emphasizes that that’s okay.
“I would be lying to you if I said that I did not enjoy blueberry pancakes with syrup and butter,” says McNutt. “But [not] on a regular basis, and I have become far more mindful of listening to my body and how it reacts to good food and my sugar retreats at times…You begin to develop an attentiveness that can be very powerful if you can apply it to your other relationships.”
Becoming active and practicing proper nutrition can seem like a daunting task, but Monica has some advice to ease the nerves of women who need a stepping stone to get on the right track.
“It starts with one decision at a time,” says McNutt. “The decision to take the stairs instead of the elevator, the decision to walk rather than ride or grab a piece of fruit as opposed to a piece of candy. Start small, and the smaller things grow.”
The next step is taking advantage of fitness opportunities that are easily accessible. McNutt says that Instagram can be a great source for finding a fitness community and free workouts, but warns that the reliability of some of them can be questionable; because of this, McNutt says people should discern when looking on social media. Other methods include taking advantage of local options, like Kettleball Harlem. In Harlem, New York, this fitness community offers free trials on Mondays and there is no limit on how many classes users can take.
On the flip side, McNutt acknowledges that being able to access these things is a privilege in its own right. Not everyone has the budget or time to commit to a fitness community or center, but that doesn’t mean that being active is completely eliminated.
“It goes back to my earlier answer, walking instead of taking the stairs,” says McNutt. “Everything does not have to be a course that you paid a lot of money for. Moving your body and burning a ton of calories is free.”
Being involved in health and wellness, along with the sports, industry has given McNutt firsthand experience in seeing and feeling the representation of women of color in that field. Compared to her white counterparts, women of color have been underrepresented for quite some time and continue to be now.
“As I get older, I have a greater appreciation of what it means to be a WOC in the sports industry,” says McNutt. “I think the experience of a black woman is different than that of a white woman, or a black man, or a white man.”
She points out how it can be stressful, which affects overall health and wellness. To her, some of the said stress can only be understood if it’s experienced firsthand. Because of this reality, McNutt believes it is important she is a voice for women of color.
“For me, to encourage people from a place of understanding…there is that point of congruence in our reliability,” says McNutt. “It’s very powerful. When you have this conversation and talk about wellness as a whole being, you have to take people’s experiences and how they show up into the conversation of the entire being.”