How I Started Weight Lifting

TW: Weight, diet, body image

Every year, I always had a new year’s resolution that I would get fit and start taking care of my body. In 2021, I finally took the initiative and started going to the gym in January of 2021. It changed my life, and I will tell you why.

I dealt with body image issues for several years, and it stemmed from competing in karate, which involved categories based on age and weight. I faced insecurities from being in the heaviest category, not that I considered myself to be very heavy, but I was insecure that my fellow teammates were in the lighter weight divisions. Despite not being required to lose any weight for competitions, I still attempted to lose weight to move faster during fights. In the summer of 2017, I was eating three small meals a day with no snacks in between meals, and had praised myself for losing 3 kgs. By the end of the summer, when I went on my annual family vacation, I had gained all the weight back and felt more self-conscious than ever. For years I tracked calories, did lots of cardio, and avoided certain foods, thinking it would make me lose weight. I used filters, photoshopped, and posed with certain angles to avoid highlighting my unappealing areas. I now recognize these were all unhealthy behaviours that were not good for me. When Covid hit, I no longer did karate 5-6 days a week and had to rely on home workouts for several months. Like many other girls, I tried the Chloe Ting workouts for 2 weeks to 30 days and often gave up after a week. It was difficult to maintain, and I soon realized it was not going to get me where I wanted to be.

At some point throughout high school, I started going to hot yoga. And it wasn’t your typical slow-paced child poses, it was strength and conditioning at a fast-paced with hyped music playing, while a yoga instructor yells out the countdown. Now, this was an activity I enjoyed. I was confident and I pushed myself. When my yoga studio opened up after Covid, I started attending classes again. I enjoyed myself for the time being until the studio closed once again. This was around the time I decided to start going to the gym.

I have to give some credit to my best friend because without her, I would not have gone to the gym. Having a gym partner brings a new level of motivation that you otherwise might not have, and that’s exactly what happened. We started going to an all-girls gym for a few months, with a one-hour limit for our workouts. We would do cardio for 15 minutes at the beginning of our workout and then lift weights for the rest of it. We soon realized that doing cardio at the beginning of our workout had really worn us out, and we started doing cardio after our lifts. Around this time, I was already invested in the fitness feed of TikTok and tried creating a workout split for 3-4 days of the week. My workout split consisted of legs, arms, full-body, and cardio. We slowly transitioned from going 3 days a week, to eventually 5-6 days a week, and modifying my workout split over time.

From January to April, we became comfortable with lifting weights, most of it has to do with only being surrounded by girls. In May, we decided we wanted to try a new gym, with more equipment and more space to do what we wanted, though this also meant having to go to a co-ed gym. This was when I decided to take weight lifting more seriously. This meant learning the correct form, trying compound movements, and building my strength. I cared less about losing weight and more about looking strong and feeling good. From May until now, I consistently worked out 5-6 days a week, and worked on some key compound exercises; Bench press, deadlifts, and squats. Regarding food, I didn’t track calories, and I ate whatever I wanted, in moderation. To achieve my goal of building muscle, I will have to consume more protein, however, I am not putting extreme amounts of pressure on myself to achieve my protein goal every day.

While I still have a lot of work ahead of me in terms of strength, I feel more confident than ever, and I love how I look and how I feel about myself. I could see myself going on a cut or maintenance in the future, without restricting myself. I love food, and I understand now that food is fuel for lifting weights. You need food to have the energy to work out, and starving yourself is not the answer. Ultimately, you can do whatever makes you happy. I found 10-minute ab workouts were unfulfilling and insufficient, and I was unhappy. Instead, I work out my back twice a week, and that gives me the illusion of the figure I want for myself. I eat whatever I want, lift as much as I can, and I encourage many others to do the same. If you’re looking for a sign to start going to the gym in 2022, here’s your sign.

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