The Valuable Lessons I am Learning through Fitness
My journey to personal power building self-confidence from inside out. Learning valuable life lessons discovering a stronger self through my fitness journey.
I have always been a shy person. I was born and raised on Saint-Barthélémy, an island in the Caribbean. As I was growing up, I was so shy that I remember being afraid to ask for simple things like passing the water bottle during dinner, or while spending the day at the beach, I would be afraid to go shirtless in a restaurant, when virtually everyone else was shirtless. I was conscious, scared, shy… And living on an island.
About seven years ago, I watched the movie Never Back Down. It’s the story of an emotional teenager that can’t let go of the past (his drunk dad died driving the car while he sat in the passenger seat), moves to a new city, and learns to control his emotions through fitness, mixed martial arts, and the help of his trainer and mentor. Immediately after watching the movie, I went to my boarding school’s tiny gym. I would run and do some sit-ups. I cut down junk food, and rapidly I lost belly fat, and for the first time in my life, I saw my abdominals come out. I was feeling better about myself, more confident, more outgoing, and people noticed a difference.
Life was good, but I rested on my laurels When school ended in June, I flew back with my siblings to Saint-Barths. The problem was that once summer started, laziness, a sizeable opponent, knocked me out with a right cross.
Once this beast whispered in my ears “later” “tomorrow,” “start on Monday,” those delicate yet evil words we all want to hear before quitting, I let my guard down and quit. It wasn’t long before my abs were gone. And once again, I felt shy and unhappy. Then came another factor that until now I had not included in the calculation: alcohol. When you turn 18, drinking beer and partying are the only thing on your mind comes Friday and Saturday nights because that is what “cool” kids do.
When September rolled around, I decided I would go workout with my friends. They welcomed me, but it is intimidating to go work out when your friends bench 175lbs, and you have a hard time benching the Olympic bar by itself. I would curl 15lbs dumbbells while they used the 40lbs. They encouraged me. They told me that they started where I was, but my morale was down, and I gave up. I quit. I said no mas.
About two months ago, I headed back to the gym. I decided I would stop wishing for good things to happen, and instead, I would make them happen. I began with what I can control: my fitness routine and diet. I cut out alcohol, desserts, snacks, sugar, fast food, and sodas. I also go work out six days per week, and sometimes I’ll throw in a cardiovascular session.
I have lost a lot of belly fat, and my abdominals are once again on the come-up. When I started, I had a hard time benching 115lbs, I, now, bench 155lbs. In the beginning, I squatted 135lbs, I, now, squat 185lbs with a pretty good form. It is not over yet. I want to gain some muscle mass, lower my body fat percentage to single-digit, and regain that confidence I had that fateful spring in 2010. I don’t work out for girls, or to look good; I work out to feel good mentally. I work out to schedule myself. Fitness teaches valuable life lessons such as commitment, dedication, and work ethic. These lessons will carry you to great success in relationships, business, and other ventures you may take on.
The truth is if you want to see a change in your life work for it. You want to learn a new language then work on it. I know, I’ve managed that. If you want a promotion, then earn it.
I finally came to the realization I needed to overcome feeling sorry for myself, work, and witness the reward. It was just that simple. There is a correlation between confidence and self-esteem, and more often than not physical appearance is the bridge. When you look good, you feel better about yourself, which helps you in all facets of life. That does not mean that you have to fit society’s views of beauty, as long as you feel comfortable in your skin, you will notice the change.
What I have realized on this journey to self-discovery is that better fitness (for mind and body) is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and achieving my personal power.
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By: Adrien Montoya