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Every woman wants to look in the mirror and smile at the glowing, healthy image staring back at her. I feel that in my ​core​. For years, I have spent hours pointing out all of my flaws, too discouraged by my appearance to go work out at the gym. I, like many others, had gym-timidation. The few times that I had gone to the gym, I looked around and felt so out of place. I felt too big to wear the proper athletic wear, and I was worried that everyone was looking at me whenever I tried to run on the treadmill (and usually ended up panting heavily-running is hard). With that, I stuck to running around the neighborhood.

But over the years, I started loving different parts of myself in new ways, especially through the people that taught me to love those aspects I did not see. I learned to dress myself however I wanted to, regardless of how I looked. I learned to appreciate my body for everywhere it has been and everywhere it is going to go. I learned to look in the mirror, smile and brace myself for the gym. 

And I loved it.

Within days of developing a regular routine at the gym, I started to feel more confident. My body was sore and aching, but that was a sign that I worked hard. It was evident that I was working on me ​for ​me. Emily Laurence, author of the article “Endorphins and Exercise: How Intense Does a Workout have to be for the ‘High’ to Kick In?” outlines exactly the way I felt. In the article, Laurence states, “the blissful afterglow you feel post run or intense gym sesh is one of the main reasons why people work out in the first place.” It’s that exact feeling that makes working out so addictive for me; I want to have that euphoric feeling on repeat.

Laurence interviewed sports psychologist, PhD, J. Kip Matthews, who specifies that “while long, hard workouts will get you that release (…) new evidence suggests that you can still raise endorphin levels with just 15 minutes of exercise several times a week. It might not be the same sharp boost, but it will be a steady, natural upper.” 

What so perfectly captures the overall boost in confidence that comes from regularly working out is Matthews’ analysis that “the rise in endorphins during exercise can be so powerful that studies have shown it can be just as effective as counseling or medication when it comes to lowering depression.” You don’t have to grind at the gym for hours every day to achieve the “perfect gym bod.” My version of the perfect bod is one I feel comfortable in, one I am proud of, and one that takes me far in my life. Working out regularly at the gym (and the overcoming of gym-timidation) has made me an overall happier, more productive person, and I am more appreciative of the strength that my body has. So how do you get that gym bod back? You go to the gym and smile at that powerful, beautiful body of yours every day.

Ava Paszkiewicz

Louisville '23

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