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How I Learned to Really, Truly Love Working-Out (And How You Can Too)!

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How many of you reading this right now made "work out more" or "get a gym membership" part of your 2021 New Year's resolutions? Living an increasingly sedentary lifestyle in lockdown while simultaneously getting bombarded by self-improvement content on social media makes for an interesting combination. I've noticed that this has definitely pushed many people, myself included, to finally commit to achieving their fitness goals. I've been going to the gym, lifting weights consistently, for about 3 years now. Trust me, it has not been an easy or straight-forward path. Over time, however, I realized what I had to do to really love what I was doing.

First and foremost, I needed to look inwards. 

I'm going to be honest, I didn't start working out for the right reasons necessarily. After I stopped being a competitive dancer for most of my life, I longed to return to the shape I was in when I was on my feet for over 7 hours a day. Because of this incredbily high expectation I set for myself, I was never quite satisfied with the results I was getting in the beginning. My advice would be to look at your fitness journey as a way to get stronger physically and mentally… to feel better in the body you have overall. The aesthetic component that is so often shoved down our throats by Instagram culture is not the most important thing. Think about the real reasons why you want to start working out and be honest with yourself before setting a goal.   

I found a type of fitness that I genuinely enjoyed.

I’m a very tiny girl and, for me, lifting weights makes me feel like the Hulk - it’s quite exhilarating. I love it because I can channel all my negative thoughts and energy into my training. I’m totally aware that the gym isn’t for everyone. Especially when it comes to weight training in a shared space with both Chad and Brad, it most certainly can be intimidating at first. The good news is, there are so many other types of workouts available in today’s day and age! Think about what you like, whether it may be kick-boxing, yoga, or spin, there’s something out there for everyone. Going for long walks in my opinion, is the most underrated form of cardio. Believe in the process of trial and error, and most importantly, remember that everyone around you is only focusing on themselves.  

I had to start slowly.

If you are just beginning your fitness journey, remember to start slowly. Immediately trying to workout every single day after being in-active for a while is simply not sustainable. Working out twice or thrice a week, but consistently doing so, will be more helpful in the long run. 

Before I learned to hold myself accountable, I had someone else to motivate me. 

The reason I started working out regularly was that I had my best friend holding me accountable. In high school, we’d both made an effort to go to the gym together after class. Working out with a partner gave me the extra push that I needed to go almost everyday. It was also way more fun! There are also many apps on the market that can track how many workouts you do in a year. This may not work for everyone, but seeing how many days you’ve committed to killing a sweat session may be incredibly motivating!

I created a realistic schedule that worked for me.

Some people are up at the crack of dawn to smash a workout and get their American Pyscho-esque morning routine going, while others are night owls who see the gym as a personal reward at the end of a busy day. I decided to create a schedule that would optimize my productivity in a way that was realistic. I prefer to head to the gym around 8-9 am and begin my school assignments around 11 am; this is great for me because I find I work better when I have the whole day ahead of me after an intense physical activity in the morning. Take into account your existing work habits and add a workout to your daily routine, so that you are excited to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Think about your workout as fuel! If you are working the entire day, I would suggest completing a workout or going to the gym right after your final task.  

I value rest.

Sometimes we forget this, but rest is equally as vital to achieving our goals as the physical labour itself! Going hard 6 days a week may be too much, especially if you are a beginner. Listen to your body to prevent burn-out. 

I now compete with myself and no one else. 

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I became infinitely happier with how far I’ve come when I stopped comparing my strength and physique to others. I understand that it’s so much harder said than done, but try to keep this in your mind when you get discouraged. If you’re a competitive person like me, focus that kind of energy on your past selves. Strike a mental balance between always aiming higher and not beating yourself up for not living up to your previous expectations! 

I had to remember and internalize that every body is different.

This next point is directly related to our tendency to compare ourselves to others. I’m gonna say it… Get off Instagram and Tikok, girl. Or at the very least, try and minimize your time staring at accounts purely curated to show off someone’s best angles. I had to internalize that no matter how hard I was training, my body will never look like someone else’s. And at the same time, no one’s body will ever look like yours! We are all unique and beautiful in our own ways, as painfully cliche as it sounds. You are working out to become the best YOU, not a carbon copy of every “Insta-baddie” you see on your Explore page.  

I realized that this is a long-term process.

Even I have to remind myself of this constantly, but committing to your fitness is a life-long decision. Our bodies are always changing and so are our goals. You can become easily disheartened by not seeing the results you want immediately, but you must realize that this all takes time. Sometimes life gets in the way of our routines, and we see a halt in our progress, but it’s all about picking yourself back up. Keep doing what you love, stay as active as you can, and be kind to yourself!   

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Bo Madrid

McGill '22

Bo is a Third-year student at McGill, majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Communication Studies. Born in Manila, Philippines, she now lives in Vancouver, BC. Her passions include writing, fitness and creating visual art.
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