*CAUTION: this post is very personal and long as hell. Also you will notice I hate cardio. Surprise!
So if you know me, I go to the gym a lot. It’s become a ritual for me that I go about 4-5 days a week, do yoga on other days, and clock a couple kilometers walking. I’ve found that it’s really quite invigorating, and that I really enjoy challenging myself, and pushing my limits. Until about 2 years ago it wasn’t like that at all. I had always played sports such as volleyball and been active with skiing, swimming, and soccer (that random time I joined a women’s league and was so horrible – quite hilarious really). But really, I had no direction.
Now to be clear, I have always been ‘that curvy girl’. I have always weighed more than other girls, I am no lean green bean, and I have always had a booty (thanks mom). It’s a struggle to accept that in this day and age. Its so easy to compare yourself to other people, we do it without even thinking. Everything in life will persuade you to be ‘better’ and basically be something you’re not. It’s this constant and exhausting cycle of feeling unworthy. I had always struggled with binge eating and I finally realized it was because I wasn’t being realistic. I would be so strict with my diet and not allow anything then all of a sudden eat a tub of ice cream. Yeah, I just admitted that. But hey, you pick yourself up and move forward. I still struggle with this; I love my sweets as much as the next girl but it’s all about balance. I know that if I deprive myself of something for a while, that when I finally do I’ll go wild. But a big lesson for me was learning balance. I know I’m not going to have 10% body fat, nor will I have a 6 pack, nor will I eat under 1000 calories a day… because I like to eat, and live a little. I currently weigh 185 pounds. WOAH shocker. But it hasn’t always been like that. I also have 24% muscle mass in my body and I am quite happy it.
So here we go – after high school I took a year off to work and travel. See the thing is, I always dive head first into things – I was so into working 24/7 that I neglected my body, the need for sleep, and exercise. I went from being moderately fit to gaining a lot of weight rapidly, due to lack of sleep (night shifts & a full time job), not eating properly, and neglecting the gym. I instantly knew that something had to change and my lifestyle wasn’t working. I also at this point wanted to make the varsity volleyball team. It was so tough but I stepped up my game, focused on the gym, and began going a couple days a week. At this point I was lifting lightweights and doing some cardio (which I hated but hey what can you do) but had no idea what it would lead to. I slimmed down from a whopping 200 pounds to 175 pounds. This for me was tremendous, I was so proud but realized it would be hard to maintain. I was pushing myself a lot and very strict with my diet, I was so determined to make the volleyball team, it really consumed me.
As I began my first year of college I miraculously made the Women’s Varsity Volleyball team. I was beyond excited, I wasn’t a super star, and I wasn’t the fittest but I was determined as hell to become a first string player. We had practices 3 nights a week, I went to the gym almost every day, and on weekends we normally had 2 games. My life was school, gym, sprints, meal prep, and volleyball. We had fitness testing and I was determined to out do the others and myself. I became so consumed with the gym and my health thinking that if I could be fitter than the next girl I would make first string. I prepped every meal for the week, my ‘treats’ were peanut butter and apple, and I let this obsession run my life. I was that girl that carried smoothies and a cooler bag wherever I went. Looking back all I can do is laugh really. I just wanted to be first string so badly. Well that never happened, I worked my a$$ off. I had never been so determined in my entire life. It was really heart breaking because I dedicated my entire year to volleyball, I changed everything about my lifestyle to reach the ultimate goal and to have no reward hurt. But looking back I learnt so much. There were a lot of tears, a lot of laughs, and I met some really amazing people.
Through all that sob story – what I took from it was fitness. Second year of college came around and I decided not to play volleyball. I decided I had a real passion – fitness and i should pursue it. I was inspired by the people around me in the gym, and the feeling of complete exhaustion after a ridiculous workout. So around October of last year I committed to the gym, I got a membership to a gym that was 2 minutes away from my apartment. This year was so much better. I really found my groove; I worked out 5 – 6 days a week while going to school and working. It was tough but I enjoyed it. I was doing mostly weight lifting and interval cardio (note: I did not enjoy the cardio at all, but I got it done).
At this point my lifting became a lot more serious, I really liked lifting surprisingly and I began setting goals. Goals turned into victories, and I was so hooked. I started out with just the bar doing squats, deadlifts and bench. Before I knew it was lifting 135!
By December 25th 2015 my lifts were as follows:
Squat: 135 pounds
Deadlift: 135 pounds
Bench (my nemesis): 75 pounds
I said earlier that summer that I wanted to squat 135 and when I did it I knew that this was it. I loved the sweat, the grime, the soreness, and the hardest part for me was remembering all my gear.
It’s funny how my perspective changed too, I went from being in awe of girls on Instagram having abs and being shocked at them lifting 135 pounds and considered them ‘inspiring’ to actually out lifting them. Don’t get me wrong I love an inspiring fitness post as much as the next girl but I realized what was realistic for me, was different to everyone else. I knew I couldn’t run 10 kilometers a day; it wasn’t something I could commit too. I was passionate about lifting and decided I would focus on that.
So here we are now: October 5th, 2015 and my lifts are as follows:
Squat: 275 pounds
Deadlift: 340 pounds
Bench (still my nemesis): 135 pounds
I’ve really broadened my horizons though and pushed myself to try new things. I am constantly trying to improve and move forward. Its good to switch up your workout routine and keep your body guessing what you’re going to do next!
- I started doing yoga – really amazing for stretching out your sore muscles and gaining flexibility. I’m no yogi bear but I really enjoy it.
- I started doing body attack classes – which is hilarious because I’m such a newbie, but its excellent and fun for cardio. I also started doing boot camps on the local beach, which is SO hard. Such an unreal challenge, seriously one of the best workouts I’ve had in a while.
- I found a really inspiring gym partner here and we work out a few days a week together doing interval and circuit training. She’s a real go getter and we get along really well. We work on our weaknesses and push each other. Its really great!
Within almost a year my entire mindset changed. I still struggle to eat properly, I struggle to do cardio, I struggle to say no to chocolate but I’m human. I find that social media is so easily consuming and by following 120 pound fitness models on Instagram wasn’t portraying what was important to me. It was making me feel guilty for having a ‘thicker body type’ and even though they say ‘lift heavy’ they leave out the part where they do fasted cardio and eat 1200 calories a day.
Some things that work for some people, don’t work for others. I struggle daily to keep going, I get lazy and don’t want to go to the gym, I eat a couple Tim- Tam’s cuz STRAYA, and I take weekends off. Whatever, this isn’t a sprint, this is your god damned life and it’s a marathon. Now I am no fitness guru, mentor or anything. I do my research, I am constantly looking for new exercises and working on my form but I realized that this is it. This is a life long journey and you may as well enjoy it. So if you enjoy running – run until your legs fall off, if you enjoy lifting – lift til you burst blood vessels in your eyes (I have done this… oops) and pop veins in your neck, if you enjoy yoga – be a damn yogi- bear. Do what works for you, and as hard as it is, don’t forget that everybody faces their own challenges.
So if you learn anything from this post – it took me a year to go from baby weights to out lifting dudes (and hundreds of hours in the gym). So eat what makes you feel good, eat ice cream too because its tasty, and focus on your overall health. So for now you’ll find me lifting, eating my peanut butter and enjoying my time in the gym.
Upwards and Onwards folks.
‘Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.’ – Lee Haney