Sweat, at Your Own Pace: Confessions of a Notoriously Inactive Woman

Student Life Editor

Almost two months into the New Year, I got inspired to get back to the gym. Going to the gym was not a resolution of mine, but a revelation and necessity after a trip to the doctor and a look at the scale: I did not like the numbers I saw, and felt dejected about it long after. I did weigh myself a few days before my appointment, but I just thought the scale was faulty. Well, it wasn’t. I decided that I was going to go back to the gym and making healthier choices.

If you are anything like me, going to the gym is not easy. Before this, I had not gone to the gym or had a serious workout in approximately two years. Yes, two whole years of being nearly inactive. I did nothing but the bare minimum, like walk to class…and also walk to class. It is safe to say I was sedentary. And while my diet was not particularly the worst, it definitely was not helping my inactive lifestyle. Physically getting back to the gym was not easy for me, but the decision was.

One Saturday afternoon in February, my roommate asked me if I wanted to do a quick little workout with her in our apartment. She said it would be simple and only take 10 minutes, so I agreed. Well, it was a tough workout for me and I found it difficult to complete the whole 10 minutes – probably stopping at minute five or seven – and I broke out in complete sweat. I chugged a whole bottle of water and was sore for the next several days. This moment was also a wake-up call for me; how unhealthy was I that I could barely make it through a quick workout without feeling faint? The next day, I agreed to go to the gym with my roommate.

Since this occurrence, I have been going to the gym five days a week for three weeks now. While I have not noticed any major results yet (it is way too soon for that), one result I have noticed is that I no longer lose my breath when walking up stairs. I also noticed that I am actually sweating, dripping sweat, when working out. Two years ago when I went to the gym, I barely broke a sweat, which indicated to me that I was probably doing the exercises wrong. But now I feel like I am actually trying – trying to make my body stronger and healthier. More importantly, I find myself wanting to keep going.

The most important thing I have learned so far in this process is to go at your own pace. At the gym, you look around and see a lot of other people who look stronger than you, or doing an intense workout that makes you think you are doing nothing in comparison. But neither of these things are true. Everyone has the strength within them to accomplish their fitness goals, and just making it to the gym is a victory in its own right. Just saying “yes” and sticking to going is a win for you and your body.

Going to the gym with my roommate has been uplifting, as she is someone who exercises often and has an abundance of knowledge to share with a beginner like myself. The biggest thing she stresses when we exercise together is that I must go at my own pace. I should not try and keep up with her (or anyone else in the gym) if I cannot do it. What I have to do is try doing as much of the workout as I can, and do it the correct way to build my strength and not strain myself.

Photo courtesy of Pixnio
CREATING A workout regimen and sticking to it is important when beginning to exercise again.

I have been applying the practice of going at my own pace to my diet as well. If you know me, you know that I love to eat – I am a foodie, and gravitate toward unhealthy kinds of carbs. However, making small changes to your diet and making these changes a habit can go a long way in the future. For example, I try to limit myself to one (less healthy) carb a day, such as bread, pasta and potatoes. Once I have had that carb, I will not have another until the next day. I am also trying to incorporate more vegetables, and lessen my intake of healthy fats that I usually go overboard on under the pretense that a large portion of it is healthy, such as avocados, almond butter, etc. While the changes may seem insignificant to some, they are big to me and I hope to keep going further.

Photo courtesy of Jessie Estrella
BREAKFAST SOME mornings consist of a whole wheat bagel thin with a quarter of an avocado and an egg.

Photo courtesy of Jessie Estrella
A LIGHTER breakfast choice is a cup of non-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries.

Regardless of the changes I am making, the point is that every step in a health journey should be at your own pace. You are not doing this for anyone else’s body except your own, so you should accommodate your body’s needs first. Your body’s needs are different than the needs of others, and only you really know your needs. So take the journey one step at a time, at your own pace.