I’ve always found it terribly difficult to run. From a young age I’d accepted that marathons, sprints or even light jogs in the park weren’t for me. They weren’t my kind of exercise. This isn’t to say that I was lethargic. I could dance for hours but not run a single mile. I could walk it. I could probably even skip it. But run? High chance. So it was no surprise when I found myself panting alongside my friend on the treadmill barely able to keep up the pace for longer than two minutes.
“Rikhi run!” she’d scream, barely losing her breath.
I’d never been one to be jealous before. I was always perfectly content in my own lane. I observed and accepted. I appreciated and learned. I can dance – she can run – I told myself. But it wasn’t enough. I felt uncharacteristically incompetent. Silly even. Every new-year I tried. I even counted birthdays as an excuse to reset mid-year and tell myself that this was it. This is the year you’re going to walk into the gym, onto the treadmill, set the pace for more than 4 miles an hour and run effortlessly.
After convincing myself that there was no shame in failing or not being able to run, I resolved to find something that truly worked because this wasn’t it. What helped me then was recalling what worked before. My fitness journey started when I was ten years old and very clearly above the weight range of my peers. For anyone that hasn’t struggled with their weight or hasn’t been a chubby middle schooler - it isn’t fun. So I did what any rational adult would do now - I watched my portion sizes and walked on the treadmill. Bless my metabolism for allowing the simple cardio to be so effective, because when I rang in eleven I had shed a considerable amount of weight.
Growing up my weight definitely fluctuated but it had more to do with the fads that I was fed through magazines than the consumption of unhealthy food. I liked a sweet treat here and there but I chose to work it off by following the advice from the fitness sections of pre-teen and teenaged magazines. They didn’t work for me. I was far too consumed in the articles promising fast weight loss tips and tricks - five moves that could help you get in shape for the summer, the new year, spring break and so on.
What I have realized now is that it basically boils down to same two things every time- eating right and exercising.
Part 1: Kayla and Tanya
Countless people have so much expertise and opinion on this matter. There’s a billion dollar fitness industry set up just to make people look and feel good. Yet at its core it’s still the same things that produce results. Good food and exercise. I don’t even have an iota of the knowledge compared to those in this industry or those with a keen interest in fitness but I do know this – everyone deserves to feel good. Recently its rounds of Kayla and Tanya that have helped me feel this way.
Photo courtesy instagram.com/kaylaitsines
I hadn’t learnt of Kayla Itsines or Tanya Poppett at age eleven as I didn’t have the need to pursue bodyweight exercises as I do now. Simple walks on the treadmill just don’t cut it anymore. Instead Kayla’s workouts have helped me feel stronger, both mentally and physically. Australian based personal trainer, Kayla Itsines, has not only changed lives but also created a movement. Her twenty-eight minute body weight intensive workouts help busy women make time for fitness in their lives. The best part? You can actually do the exercises. Burpees, commandos, sit ups and leg raises - the movements are simple and yet the workout is high intensity with reps that increase as you progress through the twelve-week program. Don’t get me wrong. It’s hard. Week nine hits you like a truck. You’ll be so sore that the last thing on your mind will be to go back. But as I’ve realised – you have to. For yourself.
Photo courtesy instagram.com/tanyapoppett
Tanya Poppett is another Australian trainer making use of body weight exercises to transform lives. I’ve found her workouts primarily through Instagram and do them on slow, sore days when I’m looking for a change. She has so many interesting takes on the ‘home workout’ that its hard not to be intrigued. Perhaps the best part about either of these trainers is the fact that you can do their workouts anywhere with minimal equipment. Genuinely all you need is the urge to try.
Part 2: Lettuce and Melons
The second thing that worked was making better food choices. Recently, a friend of mine was recounting her New York trip and mentioned how her traveling buddy balanced the café hopping with yummy salads. She genuinely enjoyed putting good food in her body because it made her feel good. Another friend, ever motivational, told me point blank once – ‘Rikhi if you want to wake up tomorrow and eat healthy – whatever it may be – you can.’ Mind blowing?
Photo courtesy instagram.com/semsomeatery
This past semester I’ve realised something else – it’s an everyday thing. Every little choice you make adds up. I’m in a better place now than I was last year, however little the progress, but it doesn’t end here. While I have definitely come to terms with the fact that I need to do what works for me, I still often get caught up in what works for others. However, I have seen the results when I’ve held myself accountable for all the little decisions that I make and it would be extremely difficult to reverse all the progress now. From choosing healthy entrees at restaurants to meal prepping for a week during midterm season, I have prioritised my health first and not made excuses.
Let me be clear - it’s been hard. There have been weeks where my diet mostly consisted of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and my blood was 90% coffee. Yet it is the fact that I bounced back into clean eating the very next week that mattered. I had to want to do it. It has to be you. No one else can do it for you.
Cover photo courtesy kaylaitsines.com