I have been working out since 2013. It’s been 4 wonderful years of sweat, soreness, pain and growth. There has been a massive transformation in every aspect of my life – I am not only physically fitter, but I feel stronger mentally, physically as well as emotionally. Being on this fitness journey has made me learn patience, determination, and helped me become happier, more forgiving, and grateful for what I have. It has also helped me with my anxiety. I am also in love, like all the time! I have learnt to appreciate so much about life, and I’ve realised how we live our lives in jealousy, insecurity, fighting over petty issues, hanging on to things that happened in the past. I don’t know the science behind it, but I can assure you that fitness helps you become the bigger person, ALWAYS. That’s why the fitness community is such a happy place, with healthy competition. Everyone here is empowering and inspiring each other, and I think it is a beautiful space to be in.
In the last 4 years, I have learnt a lot of things, but it hasn’t been as smooth flowing and perfect as it seems. I have made mistakes, and I have learnt a lot in the process. I am noticing a lot of those mistakes being replicated by many, and I also know that pointing this out ends up sounding demeaning. So I wish to note down where I went wrong, make this one completely about me, and if you think you identify with me, you can always work towards making your journey better.
So, here goes. Welcome to my world.
Losing weight means being fit.
I used to run 5-7km DAILY. While I had the stamina to run, I didn’t realise I was over-training. I was running after that number on the weighing scale, ignoring everything else along the way. I’d get colds and coughs easily, I’d be stressed and worried most of the times, and it never struck me that it was due to incorrect exercising. While I was still eating well, my body was giving up, which showed itself in the form of a low immunity.
I can eat what I want…I am working out!
While this holds true to some extent, I didn’t realise the kind of food I was ingesting was causing more harm than good to my body. I would eat junk food, burn off the calories in the run. It was a cycle. What I didn’t notice was the bad quality of hair and skin, poor quality of sleep, body aches and pains, and the rapidly decreasing overall strength. Plus all that junk can lead to hypertension, diabetes and what not later, something I never thought of earlier because “I’m running na, I can eat what I want to.”
I need abs to show that I am fit
I remember this one time I ate only nuts and apples because I wanted the abs to pop during my beach vacation. I look at my bikini pictures from that vacation and the thin, weak frame makes me cringe. I was writing, eating only apples and nuts for 4 days, I was running and I was feeling weak. I knew it was due to the diet, but I never realised how harmful it really was to my overall health. My face looked tired, the skin on my face was sagging, I had a weak body, but I was happy because ABS. I plead with you to get this thought out of your head- abs are not the end all and be all of fitness. Sculpting that core takes years of patience and hard work, the diet is super important too. Do not aim at achieving a core in a few weeks or months. Do not think that getting abs is the only way of being fit. Also, it is easy to lose the initial layer of fat from the tummy, which makes the ab lines show. Now that’s just 20% of the work. If you want it to be strong and toned, you need to work at it every single day, and not aim at quick results.
Being lean is the only way to be.
I would never strength train. I would concentrate on cardio, and only cardio. Being bulky was not something that would look good on me, you see. I was tiny , so it only made sense to be thin. WRONG. I was tiny, yes. But I had a broad structure. After a certain point, I cannot be thinner than what I am because my bone structure would not allow me to do so. I should be toned, strong and happy with my body shape, something I realised much later.
Tip – aim at feeling fitter, stronger, healthier. If you wish to chase a “look” the fitness journey will seem like a punishment.
Form doesn’t matter.
LOL I know right. For the longest time I didn’t pay attention to the technicalities. I’d workout alone, aping what I saw and read on the internet. It was only in 2016 that I started paying attention to the form, and before I knew it, I’m doing only 4 push ups instead of 15, lifting only 10kgs instead of 15, feeling sore after lunges, struggling with staying still with the battle ropes and in general realising how I lacked the strength I had been looking for all this while.
With new exercises, I took my time to learn the form. I still don’t opt for deadlifts or squats on the squat rack due to a few neck and back muscle problems, and I’m finally comfortable with that. Which brings me to my next point-
Doing all exercises is the only way to be!
There are some exercises that your body won’t allow you to do. This may be because of injuries, weak muscles, wrong form, anything! If it can be reversed, work towards it, but slowly. I would not be satisfied till I didn’t work on EVERY machine at the gym. Or if I didn’t work on the entire body instead of just 2 muscle groups. Result- injuries, stress, over-training. Do not be obsessed with dong everything at the gym, it will only cause injury in the long run.There are variations available, ask your trainer to help you out with those.
I ain’t got time for stretches!
Who needs stretches, eh? Everybody does, because avoiding stretching will not allow blood to flow to the muscles, thereby inhibiting growth. Plus cramps are more common than what you can imagine. I have pulled my muscles way too many times to even keep a count anymore. 10 minutes of stretching before you start working out, and 15-20 minutes post a workout, it makes all the difference :) Your body should feel light and relaxed, not taut up.
Massages are a marketing gimmick
Massages help the body relax, help improve circulation and blood flow, and thus help in muscle growth. There is a visible difference I felt in my body after I started opting for massages once every 10 days.
Rest days are for losers
Working out more than 5 times a week is stupidity. If you’re not allowing your muscles to rest, how will you ever see them grow? I learnt this once I injured myself repeatedly, and suffered due to a low immunity. Even recently with my shoulder-bicep muscle injury, I didn’t work out on the upper body for 10 days. All I did was some stretching and yoga. It healed faster than I could ever imagine :)
I can eat anything because GAINZ!
I can eat how much ever I want to, not whatever I want to. All those burgers and cakes and maida are still contributing to clogged arteries, you know? From eating junk to moving on to 3 rotis instead of 2, 3 paranthas instead of 1, rice instead of well, no rice, 8 pieces of chicken instead of 2, it not only got easier to gain good muscle, but also helped me stay energetic and feel stronger.
This is what I can think of right now, I am sure there will be a few more. I pointed these out because rectifying these mistakes was a major game-changer. If you think you relate to any point and wish to work towards correcting things, help is always available here :) Feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram/ Email- firstname.lastname@example.org