The definition of “cheer” is “a shout of encouragement, praise, or joy”, and “to bring confidence.” That is exactly how we’d describe Netflix’s Cheer star and Dancing With the Stars competitor, Monica Aldama. As the cheerleading coach for Navarro College for the past 25 years, she has built one of the most successful cheer programs in the U.S., leading her squads to win 14 national championships.
Known for her continuous optimism and her hallmark phrase, “You keep going until you get it right, then keep going until you can’t get it wrong,” Aldama has inspired not only her team but the millions of fans she’s garnered after the success of her Netflix documentary.
The DWTS fan favorite is now launching a series of encouraging videos called “Coach Talks” with Robitussin Naturals to help spread more of her signature confidence boosting. “Anyone who knows me knows I’m equal parts tough and love, and I lead my team with both any time they face an obstacle that could interfere with achieving victory,” she says.
We sat down with the coach to share how she’s handled the stress of the pandemic, ways she prioritizes her health, and how she stays focused.
Here’s how Monica Aldama lives a nutritious life:
How have things changed for you since COVID-19 hit? What has been your biggest challenge, and how have you worked to overcome it? Covid-19 brought an abrupt ending to my 2020 cheer season and the way we operate at Navarro College. All classes went online in March, and I had to tell my cheerleaders goodbye with only a few hours notice. My daughter’s classes were moved online as well, so my kids were both at home for several months. The bright side of it all…we were able to have great quality time together as a family when things were shut down. I was hopeful that things would be better by the fall semester, but with each passing day, it became clear that the pandemic would also affect our 2020-21 school year. We are very blessed to have our school open with the ability to have face-to-face classes. However, things are very different with how we practice and how classes are held.
I thrive with structure and organization and like to have my calendar up to date for the entire year. The ever-changing climate of the pandemic has been my biggest challenge. I have not been able to plan dates for the spring and don’t really know how things will play out. Through very tough situations, I tend to look at the positives and remind myself of the things I am grateful for in my life. An attitude of gratitude gets me through the challenges in my life.
What is bringing you hope? I am a very optimistic person, so I always find hope in something. The world can be a scary place at times, but I truly believe that most people are still good. I am hopeful that we can find ourselves showing more kindness and love to each other. Personally, I am trying to stay positive during a time I never thought I would witness – a pandemic. I am hopeful that we can find a cure, that positive rates will drop, and that we will be able to repair the damage done physically, mentally, and financially.
What are some of your tips to stay focused…especially now? Staying focused can be hard in an environment that is constantly changing. Make a list of attainable, short-term goals, and focus on accomplishing those week by week. I remind myself that I cannot control outcomes—I can only affect my own actions. I stay organized by making a daily to-do list and do the hardest tasks first. I also keep distractions away, especially social media.
How often do you exercise, and what’s your workout of choice? My exercise regimen is determined by what season it is with my job. I tend to have sporadic and long hours depending on what sports are playing, as well as the Daytona season which can affect the consistency of my exercise schedule. My go-to workout is an HITT workout that I do at home or go to a class at our local gym. My family is very active, and we enjoy taking long walks together to get our steps in for the day. We also do a lot of our HITT workouts together and keep each other accountable and motivated. It definitely helps when your family is all on board to live the same healthy lifestyle.
If you had to name your healthy diet, what would you call it? Why? I guess if I had to name my healthy diet/lifestyle, I would call it “The Monica” because I essentially do what works best for me. With a job and active lifestyle like mine, wellness and a healthy diet are so important. I personally prefer food and products with natural ingredients whenever possible. My husband and kids are health conscious as well, so we try to eat by the 80/20 rule. We eat a lot of grilled chicken. We also make homemade salsa every week with fresh tomatoes and peppers. I actually have been doing intermittent fasting for quite some time.
How do you express and spread love? Anyone that knows me knows I tend to express “tough love.” With my Cheer team, I love them as my own children, but I also push them to be the best they can be. I tend to share this same sense of encouragement and tough love with everyone in my life. I push those around me to be their best self. After the year we have all had, everyone can use some cheering on!
What is your evening routine to wind down at the end of the day? I always end my day with a long, hot bath. It relaxes me and allows me time to decompress and let my mind rest.
(photo credit: Getty Images)