“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience life in the way they have been told to”
Looking back on the first half of this year, I realized it has been a path of recovery for my body and soul. For something that sounds tranquil and anti-climatic, it has surprisingly been exciting and invigorating. Tidal waves of positivity and peace sweep over me as I am finally able to see from a life of continual unmitigated chaos, a path is beginning to form. So far, my life’s journey has not been one that lines up with what is considered as conventional. I know all too well about what people think I should or shouldn’t do with my life and what steps it takes to get there. Really, this has always been frustrating to hear. Apart from being discouraging, it repeatedly clouded my judgement, making my own path nearly impossible to see. Nonetheless, this route has been a rewarding one. I have always been more interested in taking the road less traveled, and I have been damn stubborn enough to stick to it.
Growing up, I was always in ballet and pointe. It kept me skinny, but I never saw dance as a way to exercise. I only thought of it as a way to express myself. Because I didn’t realize that it was the 4+ hour long dance classes keeping me in shape, I had the mentality that I would stay “naturally thin” forever. With this mentality, I thought I could eat literally anything and everything I wanted. That diet basically consisted of coca cola, tons of fast food, and an untold amount of Hot Cheetos. I thought that I could keep this diet and never need to exercise or eat “right” because I wasn’t overweight.
I continued to dance for two years after highschool until I moved to Boston. I have lived here for 3 years now. Throughout that time, I did no proper form of physical activity. Living in Boston requires a lot of walking, but while walking is good for the health, it really can’t compare to a true workout. I have always loathed working out. I thought it was dumb, annoying and pointless. I didn’t understand why I needed to work out if I wasn’t fat. On the contrary though, while I was not overweight I was definitely not in shape either. Coming from always doing at least 1-3 hours of physical activity per day with dance to now doing nothing was a shock to my body that I was unfamiliar with. I was eating terribly, watching endless hours of Netflix, and drinking pretty regularly. My bad diet that used to never cause me any problems was beginning to catch up with me. It didn’t take long before I began to feel extremely unhealthy, mentally and physically.
I could feel my body becoming sluggish which started to really affect my mind. My thoughts became clogged with negativity, making it difficult to do anything positive and proactive for my future. Words like “failure, disappointment, scared, loser” began floating through my head. I would occasionally think that I could fix this by working out, but I would always give myself a list of excuses about why I shouldn’t join a gym: ”its too much money”, “its a waste of time” “I can work out at home” “I don’t like the gym” “I don’t even know how to workout”, etc.
For the next couple of summers, beach trips became uncomfortable. I began feeling self conscious about my body. I felt uncomfortable with how large my breasts had become and I really didn’t like the attention it attracted. Also, where there once was a perky bubble butt there was now the opposite. I looked in the mirror and was not pleased with what I saw.
For the first time in my life, I actually looked out of shape. Somehow I was able to get by with the mental effects of not working out for so long, but when I saw them turn into physical I said enough was enough and I joined a gym. Everyone who knows me and my negative views of gyms was pretty shocked that I actually joined one, and especially with my own money. Thankfully I have the most well rounded boyfriend to ever walk the earth (you hit the jackpot when you created this one God). Along with everything else that he helps me with, he also had the knowledge, experience and skill to successfully train me. And so we began our routine.
At first I didn’t really notice any difference but slowly over the weeks I gradually began to feel more level-headed and positive. It’s now been almost three months of consistent working out and I feel amazing. I initially went into working out because I wanted to look good again, but now that I am in the routine of actually doing it, I have fallen in love with being healthy and taking care of my body. While it is a bonus that our bodies began to show all the hard work we put in, I think what is an even greater benefit from working out is the positive work it does on your mind.
For me, working out and seeing results has made fear more tangible. It has shown me fear is not all it’s cracked up to be. It has taught me that I am not a quitter. It has taught me that when I really want something I work pretty damn hard to achieve it; that I can set goals, and surpass them. I love going to gym but even on the days where I don’t want to go (I am human after all), I still go and end up loving it. I love seeing that I am stronger than I was yesterday, last week, last month, last year. I love knowing that I am doing my body a favor. And now, i’m actually conscious of what I put into my body. If you would’ve told me I would love all these things 6 months ago I would’ve laughed in your face. But there is a God, and miracles do happen.
Working out has let me see how my mind was at a standstill, or if it was moving it was moving at the speed of a snail. I have never been more clear headed in my life than I am now. I have never tried harder in my life. I have never dreamed this big and I have never accomplished as much as I have these past few months. I never even thought I could dream of the things I am working towards now. I have a clear idea for my future and am now working proactively towards it everyday.
I have never been happier or more proud of myself than I am now. It feels so good to being doing something for me that helps me.
Some may not understand the thread that connects working out with my mental strength to finally being on the right track to my future, but for me, it correlates side by side. I don’t know exactly what God’s plan is and how He decides to time everything but as it turned out for me, He planned for all of this to go hand in hand.
Over time, I have learned that there is no “one” way to do something. There is no “one” path to success in life. Sure there may be a “normal” path or a “common” one, but mine has been neither. Maybe you are not where you want to be yet, physically or mentally, or in general terms: life but even slow progress is still progress. Through this process of working out I have learned to tell myself : “I support you, I am rooting for you, and I am proud of you.” The gym has become the place where I am able to reflect on my life most and I have come to realize that I don’t have the biggest vocal cheerleaders in my life. In fact, it often feels like I have none.
Working out has shown me I can be my own damn cheerleader. It has taken me a long time to be okay with the fact that I only have a few people that support me. As long as I am one of them.