In an unexpected twist, what began as a regular Friday afternoon soon turned into one that will undoubtedly occupy much of the history books.
Like so many times before, our economics lecture concluded that day around 5:20 pm. Walking alongside my friends, I headed towards the bus to begin my daily 2-hour commute.
It had never crossed my mind that that would be the last time I’d be able to do so in a year.
The one thing most of us can agree on is the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on everyone’s health, whether that be physical or mental. In my case, this pandemic has brought forth inconceivable changes to my physical health.
A quick poll on Instagram asked how lockdown measures have affected people’s overall relationship with fitness/exercise.
The survey revealed that over 60% of respondents shared similar sentiments: lack of motivation. Some joked that they “broke up” with fitness, while others are now working to reverse the toll that lockdown has taken on their bodies.
25% stated that they felt exercise is the only thing they can control at the moment. Of that group, 4% commented that it was tough to motivate themselves at first; they firmly believed that your environment should not serve as an excuse for not exercising. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with you to make the most of any situation.
A Harsh Reality Check
This past year, I’ve been forced to come face-to-face with the tough realization that I lack basic discipline. I always considered myself to be disciplined — I was always diligent with my academics, involved in every sports team, and participated in any extracurricular I could. Not once did it dawn on me that like with anything, I had to put in work to sharpen the skill that is ‘discipline.’
Prior to lockdown, I always kept fit — not the extent of running marathons, but decent enough to complete a Chloe Ting workout without passing out. Besides that, I was always blessed with a fast-working metabolism.
The possibility of weight gain was inconceivable.
At the beginning of lockdown measures, there was an immense amount of pressure to complete Chloe Ting challenges. It was impossible to scroll through Tik Tok without seeing people pushing through the up-and-down-planks.
So, I followed along.
I pushed myself to complete workouts, never having a set plan or goal. In hindsight, my approach was unsustainable. When my results did not match the expectations I built up, I quickly gave up on the workouts. Focusing on short-term gain, rather than the long-run payoff, was my first mistake.
The Slow Decline
Working from home presented further challenges. I now had easy access to food 24/7. Faced with genuine boredom, I ended up snacking a lot more without realizing it. I frequently purchased fast food, purely for the brief opportunity to go outside.
The weight began increasing in increments. First, it was 5 lbs. Then 10.
At first, this didn’t raise any concerns. In fact, for the first time in my life, I was no longer below my healthy weight group. Seeing that 10 lbs increase in weight made me ecstatic.
What I didn’t realize was that the rate at which I gained weight was unhealthy.
It’s a year later and I’m up by 25 lbs, now approaching what is considered ‘overweight’ for my height. The shock didn’t settle in until I took before and after pictures, forcing myself to come to grips with reality.
Prominent in those pictures are rolls that I never thought possible. The effect on my mental health was immediate. I felt defeated. It felt as though all the work I had put in throughout my life had vanished.
I knew I can’t continue down this path. My family has a long history of physical health issues; I see how much relatives struggle with diabetes and the aftermath of open-heart surgeries. Continuing with my current habits will only bring me one step closer to the lifestyle I vowed to avoid.
The Newly Designed Plan
So what am I doing to change this? After conducting a lot of research on weight loss, healthy eating, and building discipline, I designed a new plan for myself.
The primary issue can be attributed to my unhealthy eating habits. I purchased a $15 plan from betterme.com for a personalized meal plan in line with my height, target weight, and current weight. This plan allows me to break down my food in proportions to ensure that I am not overeating, while minimizing the risk of snacking.
I went ahead and looped my family in on my goals. It was a tough conversation to have - not because I feared judgement, but rather that I was truly accepting the current situation I’m in. My wonderful family immediately showed their support by helping me create a grocery list and took me shopping at Costco that very day.
Spoiler alert: being healthy runs up quite a bill!
For the past week or so, I’ve followed Michelle Khare’s extreme body makeover videos. Within these, she has a fitness trainer and nutritionist who design workout plans for the individual completing the challenge. Watching these videos have emphasized that I’ve gone about my weight loss journey all wrong.
Having a set workout plan is absolutely necessary to ensure you remain on track. Without some sort of stability, it becomes easier to fall off the wagon. Per numerous professional fitness trainers, cardio is vital to anyone’s weight loss journey — as are rest days!
Lastly, I’ve also purchased a kitchen scale to measure proportions. I’ll admit that weighing your food is unnatural at first. However, for the past week I’ve been doing this, it’s all contributed to forcing me to acknowledge the food I’m consuming.
I’ve also purchased a body fat caliper. Research has shown that this is an important step in actually tracking your weight loss. Oftentimes, people gain muscle, but remain fixated on the number they see on the scale. Fitness encompasses so much more!
This time, my personal objectives have shifted. It’s no longer about losing weight to impress other people.
It’s about my ability to do a pushup (embarrassing fact: I’ve never been able to do a proper pushup!).
It’s about the confident smile reflecting back when I look in the mirror.
It’s about the final push because that’s where the fitness comes from.
It’s about the long life ahead of me.
It’s about the feeling I get from fueling up on good food.
It’s about remembering that fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.