“Taba. Pata. Malaman. Ang laki-laki mo na.” These are just some of the phrases hurled at me for gaining weight 6 years ago. My family and friends have been so used to seeing a skinny version of me all my life, and when I suddenly gained weight, I was constantly teased for it. I tried not to let it affect me, but their teases- which they thought to be harmless- left harmful effects on my confidence. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I cared less about myself until I started to get sick all the time. I was 24, a 125-lb. petite woman, being told she’s fat just because everyone was so used to seeing her skinny. I wasn’t even that fat back then, but those words affected me more than they should have.
I used to walk a lot on my way to work. As days went by I realized I could barely walk less than a kilometer from my bus stop to the office without running out of breath. I was in my early 20s, but the unhealthy lifestyle compounded with lack of confidence and a stressful job led me to numerous ER visits and sick leaves at work. I felt so frustrated with the fact that I was paying for a monthly gym membership that I didn’t get to use. I knew I had to do major changes in my lifestyle not just to lose weight, but to live a healthier life. In the beginning, I practiced yoga, tried indoor cycling, and circuit training. I thought I had a pretty fit regimen going on – until I tried CrossFit. It was definitely tough the first few months, but every time I did a workout, I felt fulfilled and I wanted more. The constant variety of workouts, the intensity, the supportive coaches and community, all these motivated me to work hard. Nothing that I tried before has worked long term for me in the past. CrossFit’s vision that everyone can do it inspired me and got me hooked. Everyday I meet all sorts of people wanting to get healthier and stronger. In our CrossFit box alone there are a bunch of professionals, mothers and fathers, who sometimes bring their kids, students, Football athletes, marathoners, and average Joes wanting to shed a few pounds. We all pursue the same goal and we help build each other up until we reach them. Without this kind of support system, I would not have been able to keep up.
It was only when I stopped obsessing about the scale and focused on getting stronger that I’ve fully embraced this routine. I learned how to prepare my own meals—a cheaper alternative to eating out or ordering meal deliveries. Sometimes I get up as early as 5:30 am just to squeeze in a workout. It’s been more than 3 years now, and I am doing CrossFit not just to work out, but also to compete locally and internationally. I’ve never had any athletic background before, but the training process has taught me so much about fitness. Doing this is both a grueling but very satisfying experience. The training days are hard— the preparations, sacrifices, long days, and frustrations will get to you. But I’ve been at it longer than I imagined and I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. It gives me the motivation to keep going not just in fitness, but also in life. Living a healthy lifestyle will train you not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. It gets tougher as the days pass by, but eventually you will learn to trust and enjoy the process. The moment it gets tough is the moment you should push yourself to keep going. Now, when work brings me down, I turn to lifting at the gym to feel better. I’ve met so many like-minded people who will push and cheer for each other rather than tear others apart. They celebrate hard work, strength, and muscles more than weight loss. They will be there no matter how small the victory is. They understand how tough it is to keep this lifestyle going given the pressures of everyday life.
When you finally feel the need to change your lifestyle, start slow and steady. Give yourself time to experiment on what works best. Try as many kinds of interesting workouts as you can. It’s actually much easier now given the Internet videos, numerous gyms, boxes, and fitness studios that sprouted in the past 6 years. We’re now living in a world that celebrates and encourages all kinds of fitness so capitalize on the hype! Get out there and do what your body is designed to do— MOVE! From there, choose what gives you the most satisfaction. Forget the tape measure or the weighing scale. This does not mean that you will eat whatever you want as long as you keep working out. You can never outwork a bad diet. What it means to ditch the scale is to focus on making wise choices about food, fitness, sleep, and recovery until you notice change. Soon enough you’ll wonder why you were too fixated on the numbers in the first place. You will begin to feel strong, confident, and capable. Enjoy the feeling and remind yourself how far you’ve come along if you ever lose hope. Losing weight is a good goal to start with, but if you get too obsessed on the numbers, you’ll eventually burnout. Remember that you’re doing your future self 10 to 20 years from now a huge favor by maintaining discipline as early as possible. You got this! It will eventually feel like clockwork as long as you’ve formed the habit and the foundation. Do what works best for you, enjoy every minute of it, and keep going!