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My Fitness Journey: Highs & Lows

My journey in the world of fitness began in my early 20’s, about 35 years ago. In future articles, I will go into more detail about the ups and downs of my road to fitness/wellness. This article will serve as an introduction and brief overview of how I started, and how I arrived at where I am today.

Childhood

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I kind of got off to a rough start in the world of sports. As a child, I didn’t consider myself to be “athletic”, and Phys Ed class was definitely not my favorite subject! I had very low self-esteem growing up, and didn’t ever feel like I measured up to my peers. As a consequence, I tended to hang out in the background. I feared that if I was noticed, people would discover just how flawed I was (or so I thought).

During my high school years, I actually dreaded Phys Ed class every day, and just tried to get through it the best I could. I found team sports to be especially cringy, because I felt so awkward and I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates. Soccer, softball, volleyball, and basketball were kind of a nightmare for me!

But I kind of didn’t mind the racquet sports like tennis, racquetball, and badminton. It was the one type of physical activity that I felt moderately good at. Another bonus was that if you played singles, it was just you against one other person; even doubles wasn’t that bad.

Discovering the gym

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Around the age of 23, I found myself desiring to have some direction and goals to strive for in life. My work life was fairly mundane, serving only as a means to make money to pay my bills. I was searching for something more, something that would give me a feeling of accomplishment, and something to strive for.

I remember very clearly the day I was out in my neighborhood, and I happened to walk by a gym. The sign specified it was a women-only gym, and this piqued my curiosity. I heard some very energetic-sounding music coming from inside, and I decided to take a peek through the window. I saw women working out with various pieces of equipment and machines, and in the back was a separate floor where there was an aerobics class going on. I remember thinking that the women I saw seemed to be really enjoying what they were doing. 

I decided to go inside and get some information about the gym. I talked to the woman at the front desk, and she gave me a tour of the gym and told me about the membership. I made up my mind then and there to join the gym. Something had been sparked inside of me that I had never felt before: a feeling of real excitement! I could begin a new lifestyle of doing something good for my body, and also working towards future goals. I went for my very first workout the next morning, and this is how my fitness journey began.

Struggles and triumphs

There have been many years between that first visit to a gym, and where I’m at today in my fitness. Some of my experiences have been wonderful and fulfilling, and some have been very defeating and difficult. I have at times felt uplifted and strong as a result of my fitness life. I also struggled with becoming obsessive and compulsive with my workouts and diet, resulting in many years (throughout my 30s and 40s) of wrestling with an eating disorder.

Finding my way

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Thankfully, at the age of 59, I can say that I have been in recovery from my eating disorder for about 14 years. It was a long, hard process to get to the point where food and exercise are no longer a prison. Today, my fitness life brings me a huge amount of satisfaction, and my relationship with food is very balanced. I no longer see workouts simply as a way to burn calories, but rather as a daily practice of joyful movement! I have strength and endurance goals, but I don’t use these as a yardstick for measuring my worth as a person. Being stronger physically helps me to stay healthy as I get older, and to be able to continue to do things for myself. The aesthetic benefits are also a bonus, but not my main focus. 

I stopped working out at a gym around 20 years ago, after becoming tired of the typical gym environment. Most of the people there seemed to be more interested in taking selfies and chatting with friends, rather than actually working out.

I decided I wanted a different type of atmosphere for my workouts, and have since enjoyed structuring my own workouts at home. I have the basic equipment, such as dumbbells, various resistance bands, mats, sliders, and a step-up bench.

I like doing video workouts, and I follow a few women on YouTube whose workout style is similar to mine. After so many years of exercising, and acquiring my own personal training certification, I have developed preferences when it comes to technique. Because of this, I will often modify the exercises to my own abilities/limitations (using a different weight, number of reps, tempo, etc). So I have the best of both worlds: the fun of interacting and following along with a trainer who works out with you, and also the creativity to choose the workouts I want to do and to tailor them to my own needs. 

Still going strong

It’s amazing to me that after 35 years of fitness, I still have so much enthusiasm for exercise! I credit this to not letting my workouts become stagnant. I am always learning new ways of doing tried-and-true exercises, and I switch things up frequently. As a result, my workouts are NEVER boring! I think it is also important to challenge myself because this adds the element of surprise, when I find that I can do more than I thought I was capable of. It is this feeling of accomplishment that I can then bring into all the other areas of my life!

Please feel free to add your thoughts/questions in the comments section below. ?

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