Now WAIT! I know what you’re thinking. I can practically hear you guffawing at the screen. “What could this puny looking chick possibly know anything about working out?!” huh? Well, If you’re indeed right, this post wouldn’t take too long to read. So sit back and settle in to chuckle some more.
In a general sense , i like to think of myself as someone comfortable in her own skin. I quite like the way i look, beyond just plain acceptance. Believe it or not, I have actually evolved enough to “love” my tiny boobs and micro-sized ass. At this point, I am fully aware of the fact that i am not a stereotypically curvy girl and may well never be and it is completely A-OK.
It is necessary to state that my leaving India right after i turned 21, did have a lot to do with my process of self acceptance. Right until then, i had a pretty low self esteem level when it came to my body, thanks to the media and the general notion that “real Indian women have curves”, a plague of an idea propagated by men AND women alike.
Although I rarely ever expressed it verbally, i never truly felt like i fit in because most of my girl friends fit the bill of being a “real woman” while i was being compared to a plasma TV for the most part of my teenage years. Luckily, being the natural goof that i am, i managed to cope with the situation by crowning myself with several self-depreciating terms and eventually growing into it just about enough to be able to do it without crumbling on the inside.
But you know what i still hated about myself? My WEAKNESS in terms of physical strength. I couldn’t lift anything that weighed more than 3 kilos without being terrified that one of my bones might collapse. It became a little bit harder each day because confidence that I was building about my personality didn’t match with the disbelief I in in my external abilities. THAT was something i internally struggled with more than my physical appearance or weight.
And this time, i couldn’t simply brush it off with poorly constructed jokes because they weren’t funny, not even to me. Being perceived as “unhealthy” was something i was more mortified about than being called “ugly”.
The timing of this revelation was perfect since I was on my own for the first time while doing my masters. And my tryst with the gym bloomed for the very first time. It lasted for about 6 months but never managed to get me to where i wanted to be, and it was all on ME and my lack of trying harder.
I wanted to give it another go once i arrived at Germany. It did help that i have a boyfriend who is into fitness himself and more importantly, is one of the handful of people in my life who DIDN’T laugh at my face when i hesitantly expressed that I’ve always wanted to gain muscles, to be seen as strong (now you know why i am with him). Instead, he very genuinely suggested “Let’s get that ass to the gym then!”. His optimism rubbed off on me and that’s exactly what i did.
Fastforward to now…
It has been 6 months since i started exercising my gym membership. And exactly 24 days since i started taking it seriously. But before we get to that, i guess it’s vital to address everything that was happening prior to it.
For the first 5 months, i entered and exited the gym religiously for 3 days a week, at the exact same timings, repeating the same workout variations over and over. NEVER once stepping out of my comfort zone or into the weights section out of fear that i would be judged by the ripped men slogging their butt off with ACTUAL weights (because that’s exactly why they came to the gym, pfffft).
Little did i realise that this irrational holdback had everything to do with what my head was made of rather than the rest of my body.
Because, until a couple of years ago, i was that person sharing mediocre memes like “Who cares about 6 pack abs when you can get a 6 pack of Carlsberg?!”on social media ; and i don’t even drink beer. I was the one on your newsfeed desperately trying to prove to herself and everyone else that true strength lied on the “inside” despite her crippling self doubt and lack of honesty. The one who naively associated “taking care of one’s body” with “being superficial”.
I was doing the grave injustice of grossly underestimating my own strength , always too quick to dismiss myself before anyone else could. For the longest time, i convinced myself that it was the people in my life repeatedly branding me as “skinny” or other variations of the word who did this to me. I was too scarred by others to tend to the wounds i was causing me. Why waste time looking for the real solution when you can indulge in some good old therapy of self-pity?
It all worked out(pun intended) just fine, until the day i decided to answer the question “why do you hit the gym? do you wanna disappear or something?hahahahaha” with some concrete physical proof.
And that day was 4 days ago, when i finally opened my eyes to my muscles reacting to the drastic changes i had recently made to my existing mundane workout schedule. The kind subtle muscle definition that i’ve never imagined on myself were popping up, right there for me to see. Whether it was a minuscule bicep bulge or a slightly peaked shoulder muscle. The soreness in my body echoed with the pain i was sensing in the tendons i wasn’t even aware I was exercising. i couldn’t believe what i saw and it hit me.
The barrier between my body and any form of constructive pain needed to carve it into shape was my disbelief. NEVER believed once in my capabilities, NEVER gave it the chance it so desperately deserved. How would i when I was too busy mocking myself when i shared all those memes.
I gave everyone a reason to underestimate me while loudly cheering for each one of them from the sidelines; sneering at myself.
It was fascinating how just one step in the right direction elevated my entire plane of existence to a different degree, even though it has been just 24 days.
And from this modest experience, there are basically 3 things i have picked up about working out as a basic beginner
It is mostly about what is in your head than anywhere else. The more you vehemently believe you can do, the more you actually end up doing. Even if the two aren’t always equal in measure. It needn’t necessarily be something as abstract as inner peace or as scientific as endorphins. It simply boils down to mind control and willpower.
The only way to gain any desired result is by being consistent. The best way to be consistent is to do it for yourself and yourself ALONE. Sure, you could do it to make a statement or to impress a certain someone. But at the end of the day, if it doesn’t satisfy you on the inside, it’s going to be that much more difficult to hold on to it for too long.
“Results” seldom necessarily mean physical changes. In fact, physical changes are more of a bonus. To me, the most important part was how amazing i felt afterwards. And that sense of self assurance that i am finally treating my body right after putting it through hell with years of a lifestyle filled with junk food, terrible sleeping patterns and minimum to zilch physical exercise.
Hilarious, that in many ways it’s quite similar to a romantic relationship. You start off by jumping into it because of an initial impulse sprinkled with a promise of achievable greatness. This interest very predictably fades away once you realise you aren’t willing enough to put in the required effort. Nonetheless, you STAY in it for a few months solely because you’re curious to see if there’s any potential at all until you find something else worthy enough of filling your time.
And if you persist long enough, on one fine day, BAM! it hits you out of nowhere like a viral cat video (replace with “dog” if you’re from the other side, GEEZ!) that it is pretty much one of reasons for your current happiness/wellbeing and will hopefully last for the rest of your life.
The reason why i was hesitant to pen it down earlier was probably because of the possibility of ridicule. Ridicule from extremely close friends and family members (who have made fun of my weight in the past), or worse, from folks on the internet who have never even met me in person. But in their defence, there is an element of truth to every joke. But there’s also a sliver of hope to turn the joke around to something more. And that turn happened to me when i got a fist bump from that “hulk-like” dude at the gym after a gruelling session of bench press without me breaking my face.
The turn had a couple of surprising reveals:
- Those beefed up men in the weights section are some of the gentlest beasts you’d ever meet.
2. Working out doesn’t automatically make one a douchebag. Thinking that it does, does.
It is obvious that in no way do i consider myself an expert or even a fitness practitioner just yet. But i do know that i want to continue doing this for myself, as a tribute to my body that never once gave up on me in spite of me letting it down in every opportunity i got.
Find the reason to give yourself the best and maybe it wouldn’t take you even those 24 days to get inspired.
For everything changes, when you stop giving a squat and actually get down to doing some.
Bottomline: YES, people are allowed to go to the gym for goals other than to just lose weight (you ignorant IDIOT!).