Why I work out religiously
“Three times a week.” That’s how often I told myself I would work out. Although it was painful, I stuck to this promise—even if it meant heading to the gym at 11:30pm after finishing work at 10:30pm. I would sacrifice sleep and precious resting time just to lift weights and clock in some cardio.
The thing is, at that point in time, I wasn’t doing all these to be healthy.
I used to be overweight
Of course, this made me a natural target for bullies. I didn’t have the easiest life when I was a teen; I was bullied by my schoolmates every day. One of the worst occasions involved my bag being thrown from the second floor which broke my costly e-dictionary.
It hurt to be bullied. I wanted the pain to stop. In fact, I was struggling so much that I started blaming myself for my pain.
“Maybe they’ll stop bullying me if I wasn’t fat.”
That was the spark that made me start losing weight. Being 15 years old at that time, I only lifted light weights and equipment around my house. Surprisingly, through constant repetition and a dash of puberty, I shed around 6kg. This meant I entered my last year of secondary school looking completely different.
At that point in time, I wasn’t super determined or disciplined about the processes that went into working out. All I cared about was losing weight so that I wouldn’t be a bullying target.
However, after graduating from secondary school, I stopped working out regularly. Probably because I didn’t have to worry about seeing my bullies anymore. As a result, my weight started fluctuating. At least, I was no longer in bad shape.
I worked out again after being dumped
I want someone who works out and puts in effort to look good.”
Those were the hurtful parting words my ex said when we broke up. By then, it had been about three years since I graduated from secondary school.
Her words were painful yet true. Even though I did my best to dress up for our dates, I neglected to work on my body. I guess who I was at that time wasn’t enough for her.
After we broke up, I started thinking about looking better. As much as I wanted to say working out was for myself, the real reason was that I wanted to look so good that she’d regret ever giving up on me.
And I went for it. For the first time, I pushed myself religiously by working out at least three times a week every week for an entire year. I started taking protein powder and watching workout tutorials to improve the way I run my sets in the gym.
I found myself making small but gradual progress over the months. However, as exams and deadlines slowly took over my life, I started working out. Four times became three, three became two.
“Tomorrow”, I’ll say but tomorrow never came.
As I turned 19, I found myself clean of the habit I had so painstakingly invested time to cultivate.
Reintroducing structure to my life
“It’ll help,” my psychiatrist said. “To reinstate structure, you need to build a recurring and healthy routine to better cope with difficult changes,” he added.
Now that I’m in my mid-20s, I wanted to do things differently. It’s no longer about simply hitting the gym and slugging it out just to look better physically. It is about scheduling time slots into my Google Calendar, and looking forward to pushing some weights as quality me-time. It is about being mentally exhausted from deflecting bullets at work but feeling entirely rejuvenated after a 45-minute session.
Of course, it is also the gains you get after religiously going at it for a while
After doing this for about nine months, this time while prioritising my health, mind, and soul, I feel healthier and more confident and joyous as I go about my days. With enough workout sessions slotted between days, I don’t hold back on eating whatever I want whenever I go on dates. I stopped questioning myself every time I pass a mirror in a shopping mall. Now, I no longer feel obligated to work out but I’m happy and willing to do so.
Should you work out every single day?
Maybe not. I haven’t been hitting the gym long enough to tell if it is for me either. I do think the bottom line is that regardless of what you’re doing, just be happy while you do it. Whether it’s cooking at 8am on a Saturday morning, cycling on a Sunday afternoon, or hitting the gym on a Monday morning before the roosters do their rising calls, do what makes you happy.