Looking back, I know I’ve already come a long way in my fitness journey. If I were to start from the very beginning, my fitness journey began on the day I started believing in myself. That was summer of 2012. Truth be told, I wasn’t convinced to workout by the constant insults and rude comments, I just knew I needed to lose weight if I wanted to be healthy and fit even at an old age.
I remember going to a park with my college block mates one time to practice a dance presentation. A palm reader approached us and he told me that “I was going to marry a successful man who’s older than me, and I need to lose weight or I will have difficulty bearing children”. That stuck to me ever since. I’m not threatened by his “reading” but I heard of women being depressed from not being able to have a child because of their weight. If not for my future child, I am most concerned about my health and not being to do the things I can do now when I get too big to a point that I will get tired from the slightest physical activity.
However, I do remember making a collage out of cut-out pictures from my magazines of physiques I wanted to acquire myself. And you guessed it, it showed thin arms, thigh gaps, washboard abs, and the like. For once in my life, I wanted to be an average sized girl. I wanted to fit in clothes with ease, to shop without having to worry about not getting my size, and generally fitting in whatever piece of clothing I wanted to wear.
I wanted to be normal.
2012 – Lacked knowledge but determined, Start of my fitness journey (Lots of cardio, little work on abs, ate healthier)
College wasn’t easy for me, but gaining weight only made it harder. I remember being in the middle of a busy papers season (I wouldn’t call it theses, since we didn’t have anything official of the sort) and I would have 2 cups of rice during lunch every day, and eat dinner to my heart’s desire, out of the day’s exhaustion and stress. Food became my best friend, or so I thought. Little did I know that it was really the enemy. I had no second thoughts on ordering more rice, stuffing my face with sweets whenever I pleased kasi minsan lang naman eh (It’ll seldom happen). Eventually, that minsan turned into madalas (Seldom became more frequent). I was in a relentless pursuit to give in to my urges and to feed my cravings. If I were to roughly estimate my calories intake, 2,500kcal would be an easy guess. It could easily shoot up to 3,000-3,500kcal if I were treating myself. I can eat that much, so don’t tell me you’re being matakaw if you can’t even eat that much.
It was the year that I ballooned to my heaviest and fattest. I started having a hard time sitting because of my big stomach, wearing my pencil skirt uniform looked awkward because of my apple figure, and no matter how much layers of clothes I’d wear, nothing could hide my fats and bulges.
To this day, I still don’t know what made it happen but one day, I just woke up determined to finally lose my belly fat and be more confident about my body. I eagerly looked up beginner programs and chose among them what suited me best. I fed my body with nutritious food (to the best of my knowledge), and I would workout even if I wasn’t feeling like it. I stayed away from lifting and focused on doing cardio and toning my abs. I didn’t have any support group but I couldn’t care less that time. I munched on oatmeals and salads, and would take no rice for dinner. I chose whole food as much as possible, and stayed away from junk food and sweets, unless it was my cheat day (I know learned that cheating should last a meal and not an entire day but I still have my faults to this day).
I didn’t have any equipment back then except for a treadmill that was stocked in my dad’s room because even he does not use it, I would work out in his room because it felt more intimate there and I wasn’t comfortable in our room, which was bigger. During that beginner’s stage, investing in a yoga mat was a big deal for me and nothing could get me more excited. I even bought a shake weight, thinking I could spot reduce! How silly of me.
It wasn’t an easy project, but slowly but surely, I lost weight. People were starting to notice the changes, and my clothes fit better too, if not looser. I slowly gained self-confidence, and I didn’t care if people supported me or not because I knew I was making progress and that was enough for me. There would be days that I would be proud of myself but there would also be low days – days that I felt I wasn’t doing enough and my goals would forever remain unreachable. During times like those, I would take progress photos and paste it beside my old photos to remind myself of how far I’ve come, and that anything is possible if you work hard for it and never forget why you started in the first place.
2013 – Lean, Major weight lose (lots of cardio, weight training, slight control on eating)
This was the year I lost weight the most. The results weren’t fast enough, but when it came, it overwhelmed me a little because everything came all at once. I felt strong. I felt capable. I didn’t know I had the ability to use my own body to create a beautiful physique. I felt like wonder woman!
The pair of shorts I used to wear every day now came loose with just a few jumps. A lot of my clothes were too big on me already and so they were pushed deep at the back of my closet while a lot of clothes I neglected from being too small a few months before came out and found their space on the front line of my clothes pile.
This was late 2013, I was still pudgy during the first quarter of the year.
2014 – Unstoppable, Lean but strong and muscular (strength training, free weights training, kickboxing, ate whatever I wanted)
In 2014, I was introduced to strength training and I was instantly hooked. It was the time I officially started lifting. I was even scared of hurting my knees that I wore knee pads on my first day. I didn’t know back then that lifting gloves existed, so I had to make do with a hand wrap I found (and stole) from my dad’s drawer. I consistently worked out at home. It was the way I began and so I was used to that kind of set up. I found that I was too uncomfortable with the idea of working out in someone else’s presence.
During that time, I also got hooked with kickboxing and working on my abs. I’ve always been athletic since I was young – playing badminton every now and then, enrolling in tennis lessons, swimming every weekend – and I was attracted to more rugged and challenging forms of fitness. I wasn’t a runner, I considered yoga too slow and calm, so over time, I started doing kickboxing during my cardio days. Sometimes I would also do jump rope, or dance, and I even had the guts to record a dance video way back then! I was that confident about my body.
I felt light on my feet and climbing up stairs became easier. They may be small achievements, but they’re the result of hard work.
Now that I think about it, I actually looked lean enough to sport a 2-piece bikini, but still lacked the confidence. As ironic as it seems, I have no doubts posting photos like these on my BodySpace account but I wouldn’t show that much skin in public.
I became lean but strong. We didn’t have starter equipment in the house so I was forced to start at 40lbs. for my squats. I couldn’t go lower than 10lbs. either for my dumbbell exercises. I had to push myself to finish every rep and set, so I eventually became stronger than I intended.
2015 – Chunkier but stronger and more muscular (still strength training, less cardio, switched to brown rice, loving proteins)
Now I’ve gained weight since Christmas last year and when Shane came over for a 2-week visit, cos how can you not eat out often when you only see your boyfriend for a few days in a year?! I’m still shedding off the pounds, but I’m okay with my body now. I’m chunkier but I look stronger, and my muscles are seriously starting to pop out. From not knowing what to do and where to start, to stocking the house with gym equipment and investing in gym gears, healthy meals, and protein powder, I transformed myself from that clueless girl to this fitness junkie and self-proclaimed she-beast that I am now.
I’m in no way famous but I still got haters throughout my fitness journey. LOL. Over time, I learned to block the haters and ignore their discouraging comments. I just keep my eyes on the goal and remind myself that I am doing all this for a purpose, not just for myself, but also to encourage others, especially women, to step out and value their bodies by choosing the healthier option and using them to their full potential. I surround myself with people who believe in my capabilities and push me to go past my boundaries because the body achieves what the mind believes. I constantly strive to be better, to learn more, and to be smarter with the choices I make. I take a lot of raw photos because I know someday they will be “before” photos.
There will always be the non-believers, the haters, the people who have nothing nice to say, but at the end of the day, I fight for what I want, and for what I am happy with. I don’t go to gym to feed my ego, I go there as a sanctuary for recovery, for peace of mind, and for a healthier body. I wish people would stop being so judgemental on something they understand very little about. Losing weight and aiming to be fitter has a lot of up’s and down’s, the least we need is unhelpful judgements. Fitness is limitless and it’s not an easy journey. I salute people for helping themselves and others.
My say is this – growing muscles is only a plus but the most important goal is to be stronger to survive life. That is my main purpose. To those who can’t stop criticizing me for my body in the most ridiculous and pathetic ways, you don’t know what you’re saying.
You ain’t got a clue.