Fitness – a life changing experience

Today I’d love to inspire you. Inspire you to be a better you! Why you ask? Simple, I’ve lived 26 years of my life feeling and knowing I could have done more, that something was missing and that I didn’t feel I belonged in the “mediocre” category.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been overweight, just a little chubby, and what better excuse to not worry about certain health issues when there are millions of people that are overweight and worse off than you, right? WRONG! It’s not about “the others” it’s all about how YOU feel!

I don’t know what came over me, but about a year ago one of my friends proposed I follow a diet he’d invented, which involved very slight changes in my eating habits, 10 days of vegetables, very few carbs and a lot of water… It was hell at first, I must admit I didn’t even know of the existence of certain veggies, let alone enjoy eating them… I just wanted to get it over with and start eating whatever I was eating before. This involved pasta, pizza, chinese take away and chips.

I used to work long hours teaching English at Barilla, Parma. At lunch time there was the famous canteen where “good food” was never missing and ready to be had  (today I don’t consider pasta “good food” even though considering what people from other countries eat, the italian eating habits are far better and healthier options). Moreover I never had breakfast because I was too lazy to get up earlier to make some. I spent 8 hours straight at work and in the evenings was so starved that I just had to indulge in something quick and easy and fattening, whether it was fast food, take away, or another plate of pasta!!! That rounds it up to 2 meals a day which were NOT healthy options, no matter where you live or who cooks for you.

As I was saying I started the 10 day challenge, and realised that even though I hated it at first, my body was reacting in a positive way. To sum things up I had more energy by the end of the day, I was never starved and I began to be more active. I joined the gym and a friend of mine on Facebook noticed the change and began to take interest in my life changes. She was planning on becoming a body builder and had already lost something like 35kg. Now, I know most of you will say “God! I hate all those muscles! They’re not lady-like” or “people that spend more time at the gym don’t have time to read books and be smart or are too concentrated on appearance”… I used to be one of those people myself. But what I learned from this friend of mine was that it’s basically impossible to get crazy muscles at the gym doing weights, and that lifting was not something that made you manly if you didn’t want that type of a body (which is really your choice) … I’m sure we’ll have a chance to talk about that another time.  What mattered to me was that I could now go to the gym with no fear of “becoming a man” but that I could burn far more calories lifting weights and doing squats than just doing cardio. She also gave me her diet which consisted in 5 or 6 meals a day – Eggs, white meat, no sugar, not much salt, tons of veg, water, no alcohol, nuts and more veg – every 3 hours.

I forced myself to go to the gym every other day. I started on the 3rd of January 2013 and I initially gained 4kg on top of my 71kg and later started losing weight by eating healthy and working out. Gradually I started running outdoors when the days got warmer. It wasn’t easy because you miss out on a lot of parties and people generally don’t accept the NEW YOU that quickly. This was my first diet, EVER, and I wanted to make it work for me. My skin became smoother, my legs stronger and faster, my self-esteem grew and strangely enough I didn’t care about weight-loss anymore! I came down to 60kg!!! I felt confident buying new clothes, wearing whatever I wanted with no awkward feelings. Being on stage singing and being photographed! I went from a size L to a size S.

I don’t want the wrong message to come across. It’s not about being skinny, it’s about being healthy! I’m not saying I will ever believe those who say they feel good about being overweight or lazy, or that appearance doesn’t matter. Let’s face it, it does matter!  Because you don’t feel at ease, and this is a part of your life you can learn how to control easily and feel better almost at once. Your body is a part of you!  You stop obsessing over it when you have mastered your eating habits and put in the hours at the gym or at the park or at home! There really is no excuse!

This experience helped me learn that people can change shape in just a few months, it taught me not to judge people based on their weight or their shape…I used to be stubborn and uninformed myself. I should write a whole different post about how my family was surprised by my new eating habits and how they criticised me brutally just because they didn’t understand many aspects of my new lifestyle (mind you I wasn’t even obsessing over food and exercise that much) … In fact my Armenian family, that puts food above many other things (bless them) found it hard to understand why a 71kg woman should even WANT to be healthier or fitter, or go jogging instead of socialising with friends over an “aperitivo”. All the men around me said they didn’t like their women muscly… I alway replied sarcastically saying I wasn’t their woman…and that I didn’t like my men to be bald, flabby, short or simply describing a visual defect they most certainly had. I didn’t want to be mean, I said this because I don’t think anyone should expect you to work on becoming their ideal woman or man, it’s a strictly personal/private decision! In other words, I may adore muscles… it’s my business whether I should work on being muscly, your job is to be kind to me no matter what the circumstance! Why is it considered wrong to call someone FAT yet it’s not considered wrong to say to a female body builder “I think your muscles make you look manly and I hate them!” ??? I wasn’t even close to a body builder type yet I had those type of comments coming at me.

Despite all the hardship I managed to overcome what other people thought of me… I put myself first. Soon it will be a year since I started. I can now run up to 15km and go about my day feeling good. I eat whatever I want once per week and during holidays. I now know how to control my eating habits and my body doesn’t control me. It’s really our decision what we make of our lives, what we want to make our focus. It’s a valuable life lesson: I simply decided I didn’t want to feel attacked on such an insignificant topic such as weight-loss or dieting. I decided I didn’t want to feel awkward with a skirt on or pull my belly in for photos. I figured that if I made this change it would take my mind off unimportant things such as calories, size of clothing or food, instead it would help me focus on other things that truly mattered.

I hope you enjoyed the post. Here’s a pic of my progress. The real change is within!




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