My journey into lifting weights

Posted on Posted in sweatcircuit

If you have not read my post on my journey into lifting weights, here’s a little re-entry.

I would like to share with you a little bit about the change in my active regime and what got me started hitting the gym 2 years back.

Some background- I grew up pretty much an active person and have been playing competitive squash for about 10 years already- with the game itself being an excellent hi-intensity cardio. From there, I have built a good foundation of muscle on my lower trunk. Yet,my strength distribution ended up being highly disproportionate, with a relatively weak upper body.

Not to mention, with my body type being a pear shape, I gain weight easily in my hips and thighs upon careless eating. This had happened a couple of times indeed. Below are some pictures proof-worthy!

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Back in 2011. Don’t ask me why I’m wearing long sleeve to hike up the hills.

Weighing at 70kg!
Weighing at 70kg!

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As you can see on RHS, I pack junk in the trunk like a real pear. Yup, the one in white is me, not Kim Kardashian.

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In Thailand having fun!

So now we can say, I am not one who possess the luxury to eat whatever I want like. Everyone is born with a different body type.  Some are born with very high metabolism and some pack the pounds easily. *grunts*

For many years, I attempted yo-yo dieting often, sometimes going for a week with really low calorie and other times having seasonal selection of food to survive on. (Some months are bread and peanut butter while others are like purely fruits). I do see the scale going down fast, without realizing that it is just water weight loss. Sadly, once the inner beast is unleashed again, we have a problem.

Having been very ill-informed about nutrition, I would up going back to the same poor eating cycle – Hold back, binge, hold back, binge, repeat.

Worse still, I was doing plentiful cardio, and I never knew how it could be so detrimental to my metabolism when I had not much muscle mass to begin with. Read on why women should not run (too much).

So… what comes off fast comes back on fast – I never knew how to make it stick.

In 2011, I befriended a gym buff who introduced me to weights training.

Like many of you, I had several hesitations.  Ultimately, the gym was a place that had always daunted me, especially when the weights area is perpetually dominated by testosterone. Looking like an idiot not knowing what to do is the last thing I want to be. Also, I held the common fear that lifting will make me look manly, bulky, etc. Muscles looked scary!

So I wasn’t that interested initially and continued with my usual cardio regime so on and so forth.

After a year, I felt like I was going nowhere. Just like Jessica in the article above.

So, I was convinced to change it up and succumbed to some weights training sessions with my buff buddy.  Soon, the words ‘squats’, ‘deadlifts’, ‘curls’, ‘legs day’ comprised of my daily dictionary. Alongside, I decided to do some research on the way I should be eating to make up for the increased hunger. I was surprised to realize that all the years of way of eating had been so wrong too.

With understanding what my body needed for my goals, I chose healthier options and eliminated processed foods. I ate every 2 to 3 hours with my portions divided up.

Just to share, here’s my list of preferred food sources. Note that everyone’s food preferences and lifestyle differs, so ultimately it depends on your liking and beliefs.

Carbohydrate sources: Protein sources: Fat sources:
Brown rice
Quinoa
Whole wheat bread
Whole grain pasta
Oatmeal
Dark green leafy vegetables
Sweet Potatoes
Fruits
Eggs
Chicken breast
Beef flank
White fish
Salmon
Tofu
Cottage cheese
Greek yogurt
Beans
Pork tenderloin
Salmon oil
Olive oil
Peanut butter
Almonds
Walnuts
Coconut oil
Flaxseed
Avocado

Within a year of consistent work, I could observe the obvious changes. I was feeling less bloated daily, more energized and saw differences on my body. Gaining more muscle mass helped me to burn calories at a higher rate during rest. And the best part was, I was doing close to zero cardio.

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1 month into training (I look like a zombie)

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Before and 2 months after

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Around 4 months after

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Liking what I saw, I kept going. I ended up restricting my diet even further and increased training 5 to 6 times a week.

Soon I became obsessed with being lean…

After a long period of time , putting myself on such a regime meant a lot of compromise.  I found myself lunatic-ally refraining from sharing delicacies with my family and friends on some nights out. I get anxious eating that chocolate cake on a day that I’m not supposed to. I became grumpy if things get off track. I would panic if I did not go to the gym.

That was when I realized priorities had to be re-evaluated and balance is key. A fit body with an unhealthy mind is still not healthy. You need to enjoy every step of the journey. I’m not a figure competitor nor a runway model with the goal of having less than 15% body fat. I still want to enjoy good times and share awesome meals with my family and friends.

Eventually, I decided to loosen up on my strict regime, pulled back my training days, went out more often. The changes I worked for started to diminish slowly day by day and my ab-meter derailed.

But through that experience, I learnt how to love myself more.
It is because of this journey that I acquired the practise of self-love — a process created through time, it is not a “perfect”.. nor a destination.

Ultimately, if you’re going to love yourself only when you reach a kind of body or a career goal or some form of financial standard, then it’s a journey to mental destruction. Self-acceptance isn’t for those who seem perfect on the outside, or who seem to be able to “do it” in spite of their circumstances, it’s for all of us to figure it out and master.

It is also the courage to look at those with similar goals that you want (be it career-wise, achievements in life, status), that have been reached faster than you and admit that you’re not as good, but it’s not that you’re not as good enough, you’re just not as good, YET. Put in the hard work and you will eventually get there.

Today, I’m still definitely not where I want to be yet, but certain things will never die. I still love what I do – going to the gym and training.  More importantly, I get to share this love for being active through my classes and my clients.  :)

If you wish to make a change in your life or are interested in Personal Training, feel free to drop me an email at donnasamuel@gmail.com or contact me directly at +65 97397964.

Remember – don’t underestimate the power of fitness in your life.