This has been an interesting year for me, with some chapters of my life coming to a close and new chapters beginning. After Ramadan, I decided that all this on and off of working out and different diets had to go. I needed to change the way I approached eating healthy and working out. I was tired of falling off the wagon. I decided to get a personal trainer, eat clean, and focus on being a happier and healthier version of myself. It’s only been a few short months and I’ve already learned so much about myself through the beginning of my journey. And since I know where I was before I did this, I want to share some of this wisdom with those who might need that extra push to stick with their fitness and wellness routine.
Five things my fitness and wellness journey has taught me:
1. You are physically stronger than you think.
With each and every workout, I feel myself getting stronger. I’m able to run more, I have greater endurance, and I lift heavier. I started out barely being able to lift anything and running out of energy faster than I can drink a cup of coffee, but this has improved over time. If you told me three months ago that I would be up to 315 lbs on the leg press machine and that I would be doing dead lifts, I would have looked at you like you had four heads. Biking uphill used to seem like an impossible task, but the more I bike and challenge myself with hills, the easier it seems.
2. You are mentally tougher than you think.
Just when you think you can’t do another rep, something inside of you keeps you going. You find the will to keep moving forward, even when you want to give up. Showing up is half the battle, and mental toughness is what makes the workout interesting, seeing how far you can push yourself. It is what gives you the fortitude to try new workouts and to conquer your fears. You find yourself mentally prepared for the physical strength required to keep the proper form, lift, and endure the temporary discomfort that comes with intense lifting. With your goals in mind, you do what it takes to make it through each workout.
The more I work out, the more I enjoy the process without focusing on the results.
3. Nobody really cares about how you look at the gym as much as you think they do. You are more confident than you realize.
I used to be the most self-conscious person at the gym. I wasn’t as in shape as some of the cute girls who could practically be Instagram fitness models. I am not as toned or as skinny as some of them, but you know what? Who cares? All the people in the gym, especially in the bro-zone (the section of the gym where all the dudes seem to congregate to do the intense, strength-training workouts) are so focused on their own workouts, they aren’t paying attention to other people. We are all at the gym for the same reason: to slay our workouts and see those gains. Even those cute Instagram fitness model girls were beginners at some point and the most buff guy had his own struggles when he was starting out. The fact that we are all there trying to improve ourselves says enough. Now, I am able to focus completely on my workouts and not be embarrassed, even when I have to workout in the bro-zone around all the people who are in much better shape than me.
4. It’s not about the number on the scale or the size of your pants.
I started this fitness journey with the goal that I wanted to lose weight and reach a specific number on the scale. The more I work out, the more I enjoy the process without focusing on the results. With every session with my trainer Greta, every bike ride, and every run, I am getting stronger and happier and fitter, and I’m having fun in the process. Call me strange, but I actually have fun when I work out because I know I am working on being a better version of myself. I am not going to be upset if I never reach my goal weight as long as I am making an effort to be healthy and not starving myself or becoming obsessed. Especially since I am in the mental health field, I know how people can develop eating disorders and set unrealistic expectations for themselves. I want to set a good example for others, that nothing worth having comes easy, and you must have realistic goals in order not to injure yourself or cause yourself any health problems.
5. You are inspiring people without even realizing it.
I have struggled with my weight my entire life. And while I have never been morbidly obese or anything like that, I have been overweight. I’m not going to sugarcoat it or play it off as just being a few pounds above my ideal weight. When I let myself go, I didn’t have much energy and didn’t like feeling sluggish because I wasn’t eating healthy. For those who have ever struggled with their weight or loving themselves at any and every size, I want to be a positive role model. I want to show that even someone who has struggled with this lifelong problem can make a change and see lasting results. I have many friends who have told me that I inspired them to get a bike, start going to the gym, or eat healthy because they have been following my health and wellness journey. I don’t like to call it a weight-loss journey, because its not just about the weight. It is about taking care of myself physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and being the best version of myself.
I would like to thank everyone who has been supportive of my journey, especially those who understand that this is something that means a lot to me. Those who don’t try to tempt me with unhealthy foods or sabotage my gym time are so important to me and keep me moving forward in this journey. I hope to support you all through your own health and wellness journeys. Much love to all. <3