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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Exercise and I have had a complicated relationship. For a while, I had no interest in working out or doing any form of physical activity. From suffering from both mental and physical health issues to having a lack of motivation, I never really found a way that I truly enjoyed working out. I always used home workout videos that I really never stuck to; the longest I worked out for was a few months during quarantine and I eventually fell out of habit with that. Until this year, I never committed to a workout routine, and I know how challenging it can be, especially with social media and other influences telling us how our bodies “should” look. However, changing my perspective on exercise overall really helped, and this is how I fell in love with the gym.

To provide a bit of background about my personal journey with exercise, I have been someone who has really struggled with self-image. Especially recently, I have felt really upset and even uncomfortable in my own body. My weight has really fluctuated, which is perfectly normal, yet something that is not talked about enough. I did not even know that adults have another stage of change in weight and growth in our late teens/early 20’s and this is something that I have had to grow to accept: bodies are not meant to always stay the same and they will continue to change!

Additionally, I really have been struggling with mental health lately. I have been feeling really trapped and have not felt a sense of escape in anything that I do. In order to address this, I decided to start going to the gym. I am not entirely sure what made me come to this decision, but I have always wanted to. I just didn’t really know where to start. I had my brother help train me, and I did some research on tips for going to the gym, especially for a beginner.

This leads me to my first piece of advice: create a realistic routine that you can stick to. It can be really daunting to go to the gym, especially if you have never been or want to go alone. It is overwhelming to figure out what to do or which machines or workouts to do. I recommend either asking others or looking up simple routines to start. Depending on what your goals are, you can build a routine that focuses on your personal fitness goals. You should feel comfortable doing whatever you want, and everyone’s goals and desires are different!

I know the pressure at the gym can be a lot. Especially for women, the gym does tend to be a male-dominated space. For me, I still feel uncomfortable sometimes when I am the only woman in the room. I have had to keep in mind that everyone is too focused on themselves most of the time to even worry about what I am doing. Additionally, I deserve to take up space and use whatever machines or equipment I want there. If you are really worried about this, I recommend finding someone to go with, or finding a time when there are not a lot of people. This makes it easier for me when I am feeling really anxious, and I hope it helps you as well!

My last piece of advice is to really focus on how you are feeling and not to put too many expectations on yourself. You will not feel 100% every day and might want to take it easy: that is okay! It is better to do an easier workout or take a rest day if you are not feeling the best, instead of pushing yourself past your limits. I know it can feel discouraging if you miss a day, or don’t stick to your schedule, but it is so important to listen to what your body needs at the moment. You deserve to rest! If you do not feel like working out that day, you can do something simple like yoga or just go for a walk. You do not need to crush it every day!

Exercising has made me feel so much better. I know it can sometimes get a little annoying to hear how good the gym makes you feel, but for someone who has struggled with severe mental health issues, I can say it has genuinely really helped me. That might not be the same situation for everyone of course, but physical activities can take many different forms, so do what you enjoy the most! I have really loved the routine of making time for myself a few times a week, and just focusing on my health and making my body feel better and stronger. It can be so relieving to not think about anything else, and just focus on me.

Make sure to always do what is best for you! Everyone’s experience is different so be sure to stay at your own pace and do not let expectations get in the way. It might take a while to find exactly what you love, so do not get discouraged if the type of exercise you try does not immediately fit you!

Moving our bodies is so important, so finding what you love will make exercise so much easier. 

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Alice is a Boston University sophomore studying political science and environmental analysis and policy. She is passionate about politics, music, and fashion.
Autumn is a junior studying film/television & journalism at Boston University. She is extremely passionate about writing & film, traveling, her family and friends, and telling stories.
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