Fitness advice from the heart: Kindness over comparison

We’ve been talking a lot about Instagram lately. We’re not hating on the platform, merely examining things that come with it; image, transparency, identity.

Let’s take the fitness movement for example. Fitness models, body builders, personal trainers they push and promote their programs, diets, supplements, that horrid “fit tea”  to the masses and yes, a lot of the times it works. Hell, my husband recently hired his very first personal trainer and he found him on Instagram.

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Rosalyn planking the wrong way (as usual) during a Nike workout in downtown Toronto. Photo: @doncharleone

I follow a ton of athletes, trainers and fitness experts/influencers on Insta, some of them I’ve had the pleasure of working out with and learning from and I know the amount of work, dedication and commitment they put into sharing their programs and lifestyle.

But like I’ve mentioned before, Insta can be like window-shopping for the life you want. It can also be like looking for the body you want too. Yes, I know comparison is the killer of happiness – but it’s like a basic human instinct. SMH at myself.

You can’t scroll through your Insta feed without a #legday post, working on the *insert peach emoji here*, girls lifting triple their weight or guys posing to show off aesthetics. Now more than ever fitness is a lifestyle and the whole world’s gotta know about.

I’m guilty too. Gym selfies, #runfies, working out is definitely hard work, and yes I sometimes like people to know that I did it. But on the flipside, I’m still a junk food-lover, I hate veggies (but I still eat them) and my vice is, and forever will be Coca-Cola.

Ask anyone who’s trained with me, I will sweat and work and grind it out, but if you ask me to go for pizza after, I will also say yes. The balance is hard yo! It’s something I struggle with everyday. Sure, I’ll show you my post-run sweaty face, but will I show you the fries I had beforehand that sparked the run? Maybe – maybe not.

I’m not ashamed of my fitness journey; it takes time to find what works for you and then maintaining it? That’s a whole other experience. 

See, I’ve never been into diets. As a pre-teen I thought I’d figured out the best diet of all – simply not eating. At 11, 12, 13, what did I know about weight training, cardio, or even protein? There were no athletes, fitness lovers, or gym members in my family. All I knew was that whatever I put in my mouth made me fat, so I wouldn’t eat.

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Underweight, overweight – whatever. Fitness will be a life-long journey for me.

I could last a day or two on nothing but half a mug of hot chocolate (I’d spill it out when my mom or aunt left the kitchen), a juice box, or a can of pop. At school, I’d give away my lunches. My weight loss didn’t go unnoticed. In Filipino culture (like so many others) food is everything, it’s also a culture where your relatives have no problem telling you you’re chubby all while filling your plate with another round of rice. To appease my mom when she’d call me skin and bones, I’d stuff my face all weekend with whatever she cooked, and when she and my dad went to bed, I’d throw it all up. To this day, I hate vomit.

I left elementary school at 5’2” and 85 lbs. I was lucky enough to, for lack of a better term, grow out of it. I realized in high school food was not my enemy. I still wasn’t eating very healthy or exercising really, but I was eating. In university, I ate – a lot. I graduated in 2007 at (still 5’2”) and 150 lbs.

In the years to follow, I joined a gym and got a personal trainer and dropped more than 30 lbs. and slowly gained it back after my sessions were done. But things started to change when those around me were in some way living the “fit” life. I’d had enough of the roller coaster and got serious; I started group training and joined my sister’s muay thai gym. In September 2013, my boyfriend proposed – now it was really on.

I spent the following two years leading up to the wedding literally working on my fitness, physically and mentally. My good friend, Maggie introduced me to running, the one activity I hated more than anything, and I found my stride. We ran several races together. Date nights with my man became workout sessions at the gym. By the time I walked down the aisle, I was a healthy 124 lbs.

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From our engagement shoot taken at Bazooka Kickboxing. Photo: Julian Moniz

More than anything I was happy, not just from the exercise endorphins, I was proud of myself, of my body. Abs were forming, definition in my quads appeared, the hubby would grab my butt which was virtually non-existent before and sometimes I’d catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and literally be like, who am I?

I’ve gained some weight back since the wedding, but I’m still eating well and still working out. I sneak in some sweets, and salty things and yes, a can of pop or two. But as one of my favourite trainers said to me, you still gotta live. I don’t know if I’ll ever find the right balance, but I know I have the tools, abilities and most importantly a support system to do so.

I wish I could tell my younger self all the things I know now, mostly to just be kind to yourself – but that’s what growing up is, right? Anyway, time for my run.

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