I haven’t always enjoyed exercise. Always been active, yes, but let’s just realize that it took solid work to get to the point of wanting to exercise.
Everyone else is doing it
Growing up I did figure skating (and attempted a rather poor soccer career – only went for the post-training ice-cream), but when my knee set a stopper to that, I had to start doing something else. Bring on the spin class, pilates and the 20 minute jogs around the block.
I did spin classes every friday after school because all my friends were doing it, and I absolutely hated it. Had to catch the bus back home, and to get to the bus, I had to walk past the grocery store. What did they have in the grocery store? 5 chocolate bars for $4. Did I eat all of them on the way home? Yes.
Signed up to do pilates every thursday night with my friends. Had to walk past a candy-shop on the way there, bought an entire bag of candy to eat in the car home, ’cause pilates burns sooooo many calories.
Then I decided I was going to become a runner. I used to tell the boys living around my house that I was going to go for a run. “Yeah riiight,” they’d slam in my face. So of course, I had to go. Turns out, running was really hard, and keeping a consistent pace so that it would look like I was running when I went past their house was really hard. I also had to go past their house on the way back, so I had to make it look like I had gone very far, and had to be gone for a while. Did they ever really notice that I was out running? No.
I want to impress
Moved away to do the IB diploma, met people who went to the gym wearing LEGGINGS. Up until then I had been wearing big Manchester United t-shirts and sweatpants. I thought leggings was extremely weird. But then peer pressure got me, and I (that be my parents) invested in a pair of leggings that I used to wear, aiming to burn 100 calories on the treadmill followed by 30 minutes of ab-exercises and maybe a bicep curl or two.
Squats with a medicine-ball in the back left me sore for an entire week, but the trainer I had told me doing them 3 times a week would make me look hot. Potentially also did a group class of yoga. Made sure I looked reasonably good going to the gym, wore makeup, brushed my hair. You know. Spent a fair amount of time staring at the fit guys a couple of years above me training in the same gym. Followed up the MASSIVE GYM SESSION by either baking a cake, or buying cake at school. Still attempted going for runs past hot guys’s house, or said yes to going for runs with my ATHLETE friends – always a bad idea.
Moved back home to have a gap year. Still oblivious to the fact that diet plays a huge role in losing weight, and nibbled on candy and cakes at work, despite eating fairly healthy meals. Got a car, joined the local gym. They had a list up saying who had been to the gym the most each month, and I made it my goal to get my name up there.
Was still a big fan of numerous ab-exercises, but slowly got the interest in compound exercises using more than one muscle group at once. Read somewhere that intervals were the way to burn fat, and started running them every other day. This is also when I got interested in split-programs. It took a few months, and my name was up on the list. Still obsessed with wanting to look hot, I decided I wanted to be on the top of that list, i.e being the one with the most visits. Christmas came around, and guess who’s name was first? Yeah that was mine. Big mistake, because now I had to keep it up there. Pretty much went to the gym every day, however despite getting stronger/fitter, my diet was out of whack and I had no idea what I was doing. Spent most of my weekends being stupidly drunk in a club.
Moving to Australia was a big step in my life, and I was determined to keep my fitness level up. Let’s just say that I spent the first 3 weeks being drunk and eating crap food, and when I went for my first run it almost killed me. Probably spent most of my first year here swimming in alcohol, to be honest. I did still exercise as much as I could, but the focus was still on looking good. Joined a new gym full of massive bodybuilder guys, tried to impress them and voilá, tore something in my lower back (that is still affecting my exercise today massively, lesson learnt). After a bit of money thrown at the physio, I decided I was sick of feeling shit about my own body.
And here we go, my favourite part of the journey. I changed my diet, was still obsessed with going to the gym, but started noticing how different the body reacted to various types of good and bad food. It’s been a struggle, and what really started with yet another quest to impress someone has now turned into my career.
I used to laugh at those people saying exercise gave them more energy. I would even argue, “but you are exhausted after exercise, it drains you.” But now I understand. Exercise gets you through the week, it gives you something to focus on when you are tired, and it gives you motivation to master something new. I still hate spin-classes, but I’m open to trying one. Having worked my ass off trying to make a living as well as studying full-time, exercising hasn’t always been easy to fit in, or even been a thing I’ve wanted to do. But I’ve still maintained 6 sessions a week.
And now that I’m done studying and spend some time in an office, in front of a computer? My back KILLS. No wonder office-rats out there have back problems! But guess what, I leave the office, drive to the gym (or park), thinking about how my back aches and how I really only want to go to bed, but then I get to the gym, start exercising, and the back pain is gone. Exercise has become something that I need to keep my body going, it clears my mind, and I ALWAYS feel better after. Even if I don’t come home drenched in sweat.
I use food to nourish my body. So that it can live a 15-hour working day. So that it can recover after a gym session. So that I can get up at 5 every morning and not wear makeup, because my skin still looks fine. So that my body can recover quicker when I’m going to need another knee surgery. It’s no longer all about looking good, it’s about feeling good. And I really hope you all get to experience that one day. Exercise and nutrition is medicine, start healing your body the right way.
Ps. Sorry that it’s been an entire semester. Turns out that working 3 jobs and finishing your last semester of your degree takes up a bit of time.