Freedom in Fitness

One of the misconceptions I had to debunk about becoming fit is this: it’s too expensive.

An old woman once told me to touch her tummy and ask her how it was possible to get rock-hard abs at her age (she is around 60, I think). She said: “You need to have a lot of money for surgery.”

For a while, I was really discouraged about what she said. When she told me this, I was suffering from 30+ inches of waistline that needed a lot of trimming. It’s as if she is already telling me that there is no way normally endowed people can aspire to have a good figure from natural methods.

Later, when I had the time to think about my life, I was challenged about what she showed me and I decided to find my own ways to be fit.

As a young professional, I had to wade my way through the mess. I got bombarded with gym membership offers, the latest dance craze that claims to burn 800 calories per hour, and the booming industry of herbal products that promise a miracle cure for everything. Oh, and you need to wear the right gear so you have to have these really expensive type of socks or whatnots to make it work.

Everything had a tag price in it; it was really inundating to the brain. Lahat na lang MAY BAYAD. Magastos.

Another thing perpetuating the “Fitness is expensive” myth is the proliferation of expensive organic or healthy food joints. There are also so many posh restaurants. While it is true that fast food is more convenient and cheaper compared to these organic or healthy food options, anyone can improvise with the right supply of vegetables and fruits.

The basics like garden salads can be kept fresh using palengke-bought ingredients. All you need is a good refrigerator or a nearby salad bar that you can visit daily if you do not have a fridge.

For dressings, you can make tiny decisions like using balsamic vinegar instead of the more calorie-laden mayonnaise dressing. It’s not a drastic lifestyle alteration that you switch on one day at whim. It’s really more of  a series of tiny decisions that accumulate over time.

Factoring in all the hospital trips I made from a very unhealthy lifestyle, I can really say that choosing to live a healthier lifestyle is actually at a bargain price.

You may be shelling out a few bucks here and there for the ingredients that feed you daily, but you are actually saving yourself from avoidable medical conditions or illnesses. 

Fitness is really a MAJOR LIFE DECISION. Other people cannot force you to be fit. It’s really your motivation that will set the difference between a mere ningas cogon fad or a lifetime commitment to becoming a healthier person. It becomes part of your mindset so that it will have a lasting effect. If you do not make efforts to improve your physique with this permanent mindset in place, you will end up slipping in your efforts. You can easily be swayed to give up your workout time or your food preferences.

One important fitness responsibility every woman must have is the genuine and unshakeable motivation that stems from the core of herself. For me, it worked that I made a solid decision to lose weight and shape up because I WANT TO DO IT FOR ME, not because my partner wants me to be sexy and definitely not because other people are pressuring me to stop looking a certain way. Other people’s insulting comments did not help me at all. Some people just think they are helping, but they are not. My very own decision propelled me to adjust my life to accommodate a fit lifestyle. It’s your own WILL being put to the test on a daily basis.

I made a decision out of genuine respect for my body. I can no longer feed myself too much garbage physically or mentally because I wanted to be the best version of myself at this moment. Not what they dictate as a perfect figure. But what is perfect FOR ME.

Getting so sick and going to the hospital too many times wore me out. I got tired of the drill. I asked myself: is this how I want to spend my money and my life, in and out of hospitals?

It reached a point where my negligence of my health affected my career. I told myself: THIS. ENDS. HERE. I need to make some real lifestyle changes to improve my life and my physical health.

Once that has been settled, I started moving in the direction of fitness. It became more natural, and eventually working became as necessary as brushing my teeth or sleeping 7 hours every night.

It is in these first steps that I learned a valuable lesson: you don’t have to spend a fortune to get fit or to have the right tools. You can improvise if you allow yourself to be a bit more resourceful and creative with your approach.

For example, recently I used a ruined stocking to create one of my workout outfits:

fitness-freedom-stocking-run

I threw that in with a basic Triumph black bra with good support and a blue hipskirt that my friend Lynne bought at a Greenhills tiangge for Php 350 in 2012.

All in all, I spent nothing because I had them in my cabinet this whole time. But if you are to buy this, it’s just Php 600, which is only equivalent to a one-hour Zumba session in a famous gym.

This is what I came up with for my day’s workout:

fitness-freedom-bellydancing-mirror-back1 fitness-freedom-bellydancing-mirror-back2

In the comfort of my home, I watched some basic bellydancing Youtube tutorials.I think I lost around 500 calories in 2 hours for this session. My money remained intact.

Precisely because I am enjoying the private workout moment at home, I did not have any inhibitions to move as I please even if I am not the world’s best dancer:

Fitness is FREEDOM.

Fitness is FREEDOM.

Forget that I was not wearing the latest sports brand or that I did not have a teacher to teach me everything. Later if I have the extra resources and the confidence to join a group in a gym, I’d probably take my hipskirt out of the house or add a piece here and there. For now, though, I just wanted to HAVE FUN with my workout because when you have fun, you tend to do it MORE OFTEN without dragging your butt. And I don’t let limited funds limit my options. 🙂

I was moving. I was lighter than I was months ago. I had no qualms in imitating the moves in the videos or assuming different body positions. In addition, I ate good food that did not cost an arm and a leg and it strengthened me. I slept a full 7 hours each night and I renew myself in time for my next workout.

I started to see results from the efforts that stemmed out of my decision to embrace fitness as a lifestyle. But it was not the main end of everything I have done these past few months.

Do not get me wrong. It is nice to have a smaller waistline and it’s one of the unmistakable benefits of my new lifestyle changes:

Belly Goooood

Belly Goooood

It was not easy to undo years of unhealthy living and unhealthy eating habits. I provide myself a lot of kindness, because I understood that I cannot contradict deeply ingrained habits too easily.

One more note: I do not deprive myself excessively. I still eat my favorite chocolates and sweets. But everything is now done in moderation. For certain food decisions, I made gradual changes for long lasting effects. I did not do a full deprivation. Two years ago, I tried the cabbage soup diet that aims to lose weight fast by isolating food groups in a 7-day regimen. I fell back on the fourth day. I was not able to last. And this is a key ingredient towards finding your own path to personal fitness. You need to know what works for you and what does not, and concentrate your energies on what works.

There is so much to be said because my decision to be fit won’t fit in a single blog post. But I will try to take it one step at a time. For this blog post, suffice it to say that deciding to nurture a proper fitness mindset and making room for fitness with any of your available resources is already half the battle won.