Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Learning to Love Your Body

I never considered myself athletic in high school, although I used to play for our volleyball varsity team. Not that I have a choice, really. I only did it for the extra curricular points. I absolutely had zero interest to run or catch a ball. I was this skinny girl with only an efficient metabolism to thank for. I couldn't care less what I looked like but I know one thing — I was not healthy. Did I mention I was a picky eater too? I may have been underweight back then.

Today, we live in an era obsessing over weight. Body image is a delicate subject especially for teenagers. Girls are much more vulnerable as their body changes towards adulthood. With the wrong portrayal by the media of what an ideal female body should look like (Hello, Victoria Secret models?!), teenagers may start to feel more pressured to be thin, ethereal and goddess-like.

Parents can be the most powerful force in raising a girl with positive body image. To all the young girls, you don't have to starve yourself to be a size zero. Don't binge, either. Adopt a healthy lifestyle and keep your motivation to stay on track.

I started gaining a few pounds when I graduated from Uni. I spent most my days sitting down at work. Add up the unhealthy food choices when I frequently go to lunch with my colleagues. Oh and the constant office parties where I stuffed myself with pizza and cupcakes. No matter how much sleep I get, I feel tired all the time. Even the long commute is sapping the remaining energy I have left. Then there will always be people who had to comment about your weight. "Uyy, tumaba ka!" followed by "...pero bagay naman sayo." like the last statement would make me feel better about myself. I tried to have a proper mindset and not be offended. But I still felt bad because I could tell something wasn't right about my lifestyle.

Fast forward to four years later, I moved back to Abu Dhabi again. Missing the city so much means a celebratory shawarma party all night. Baskin Robbins is a few steps away from my place. You know where to find me during weekends! Ugggh. It's sad how I get attached to food that was easily available. I remember my big wake up call was when I couldn't fit into all of my clothes anymore. I had to buy a new set of wardrobe twice the size. I basically hated myself from that moment. There I was in my mid 20s still packing on so much weight. I hit my peak when my metabolic rate took a nosedive. My weight has officially gone south.

And so, I decided to do a weekly running routine. This is the most efficient way if your goal is to burn fat. I want to put "easiest" physical activity but I struggled on my first try. As a newbie runner, I started off with a slow pace. Don't push yourself too hard because you are likely to become injured. Muscle soreness is expected. It's your body reacting to an effective cardio. Try not to let it bother you after a brutal long run even if you could barely walk up the stairs.

Here are other smart swaps I did to jump start an active lifestyle.

  • I run every other day for at least an hour. Since repetitive motion can be boring, running with a group might be what you need to be more motivated. Ask some of your friends to join you.
  • I enrolled in Muay Thai classes. Training is much more intense where you have to undergo strength and conditioning workouts. Not only it ensures weight loss but you will begin to notice a change in your stamina, speed, balance and coordination. I would definitely recommend this to everyone. Sure, I get bruises here and there but nothing works out your entire body like preparing to get into a fight with every punch and kick.
  • If you want to increase muscle definition, head to the gym to lift heavy for a few reps. And no, you will not look bulky and transform into Incredible Hulk. Having muscles can actually help you burn more calories. Weight training is good for your bones too!
  • Find a sport that you can enjoy. In my case, it's tennis. I picked up a racket for the first time in my late 20s and hired a coach to teach me the basics. You know what they say, "You're never too old to learn something new."
  • Fitness and healthy diet go hand in hand. Exercise is nothing if you haven't redefined your eating habits. I slowly gave up soda, junk food and began turning my head away from processed foods.

Keep in mind that losing weight takes a lot of sweat and discipline. It's a long-term commitment to maintain a healthy body. Don't be frustrated when the scale won't budge. It took me over two months to notice the changes. Since every person's body has its own personality, you could lose weight at a rapid rate compared to anyone else. If you wake up in the morning not feeling great about what you see in the mirrorstruggles of not being fat or not being skinny — get out there and start moving. It's time for a healthy lifestyle change.


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