Hint: No, we’re not talking about thigh gaps and thinspo
At the beginning of the year I set a goal.
It was a goal that was mocked by a few, but it was important to me, and to me at least, it was a big step.
The goal was to workout once this year.
I hated working out (it’s still not my favorite pastime) and wanted to set a realistic goal, so I did just that. When I got back to work, the company had other ideas. I was going to work out four times within a two month period – maybe still not a huge amount for some, but for me, a significantly more challenging goal than the one I’d set myself.
I started with Flex, a class that combined yoga and pilates; then I went climbing. I tried CrossFit; then I started working out at home, doing tabata or sessions of Blogilates.
Whilst I didn’t hate doing any of these things, I didn’t love doing them either. I did them because I saw them as a way to take care of my body, not because I thought they were enjoyable ways to spend my time.
Then something personal came up and I decided I was going to run a race. A 10K.
So I started training for it. I began at zero and started working my way up to 10 (I’m currently at 7K, and the race is in 2 weeks). I run three times a week, usually in the morning before work (at stupid AM). I’ve been doing this for going on 4 months.
So have there been any differences in my body or how I feel? Yes, but not what you think.
Surprisingly, I haven’t lost weight (I’ve lost fat, but gained muscle – but that’s a WHOLE OTHER BLOG POST).
Something else has happened though, and it’s not something I was expecting.
I love my body.
As in, I really, really like my body.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked it before. I was okay with it before. It was fine before.
And whilst at the beginning of all this my goal was to look like a personal trainer, I still don’t look like one.
But I love my body regardless. Not because of how I look, but because of how I feel.
Nobody ever told me working out would give me a better self-image, and yet that’s exactly what has happened.
Working out can be a kind of emotional rollercoaster.
Before I start each workout, I have to overcome feelings of what I call ‘reverse-remorse’ – regretting something before I’ve even done it; during a workout, I feel okay. I don’t hate myself, I don’t hate it, but I am definitely looking forward to it being over; but the feeling afterwards is something else.
I don’t know if it’s the sense of achievement, or the fact that I know it’s over and feel relieved, but I honestly feel at my best after working out. I get this strange sense of pride about my body. I suddenly want to flaunt it. It doesn’t matter that I’m dripping with sweat everywhere (literally everywhere, arms, forehead, neck, thighs, feet even), I feel like a million dollars. I feel like the best version of myself. I feel unstoppable.
The best part is the fact that in reality my body isn’t much different. My ideal waist would still be smaller, my thighs could be slimmer, and I still wish my stomach was flatter; but I feel all kinds of fabulous.
For some reason, working out is empowering. I have no study or nutritionist to back me up on this, but I think it stems from the fact that it forces me to shift my focus from what my body looks like to what my body can do. A workout is one of the (unfortunately) few places where my body is only judged for what it’s capable of, instead of its appearance. I get to “see” my body in its truest form, not as deemed by a pant-size, or a reflection, but by what it can do.
If you’d told me in January that in August I’d be running 7K on a daily basis I would have laughed in your face, but now I know better. My body is strong. My body can do more than I think.
So can yours.
Set yourself a tiny challenge and prepare to be shocked by what your body can do. You might not get your dream body, but you’ll definitely fall in love with the one you have.
-Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out
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