Featured Artwork: Quentin Monge
When quarantine began, many of us decided to develop goals for ourselves — fix our mental health, focus on our hobbies, develop new skills, and for me, begin taking care of my body again.
After months and years of having a go-go-go lifestyle, I was forced to reevaluate how I dedicate my time. Being extremely career-driven and devoted to my academics, I ignored the most essential elements of success: happiness and health.
Therefore, like many of the beauty and lifestyle influencers I follow on social media, I decided to go full force into attaining that “perfect figure”.
. . .
Stage 1: YouTubing
Every morning for weeks, I would frantically search on my phone, “15 Minute Instant Ab Workout”, “Workouts to To Lose Weight Fast” or “Fat Burning Exercises”. Following a few minutes of agony, I would lay on the floor panting and proceed to eat junk food throughout the day, hoping my metabolism would do its job.
I even purchased a yoga mat, now collecting dust under my bed, to instill the meditation rituals, so often promoted on social media, into my routine.
I became so obsessed with looking skinny rather than feeling healthy that I became extremely disappointed when I wasn’t seeing instant results.
Stage 2: Burn Out
As you may have predicted, I quickly burned out from my previous YouTube workouts. As Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting, commenced, you may expect now would be the essential time to get back into exercising — well you’re wrong. Although intermittent fasting has outstanding health benefits, they would only occur if healthy food was consumed. In most South Asian homes, Ramadan consists of deep-fried spring rolls, samosas, chicken, and comfort foods of all kinds — not exactly the best intermittent diet.
Stage 3: Change
It’s difficult to explain what forced me to develop a new approach to exercise. After Ramadan, I felt horrible about the way my body looked but more importantly, how I felt.
I knew social media fitness instructors were frankly not for me because the rigidness and difficulty involved in pre-made workouts wasn’t something I could manage.
When I was much younger, maybe 10 or 11, I participated in Cross Country Marathons — I would meet with my club after school and run 2-4 kilometers. The feeling of the wind on my face as I raced towards the finish line is indescribable, and it was something I just now realized that I missed.
So now, I embark on runs and bike rides around my neighborhood, reliving the joys of my childhood while slowly achieving my health goals.
My advice: don’t feel pressured to join the virtual community of bodybuilders, yoga enthusiasts, and fitness instructors, because it may do you more harm than good.
Focus on the activities that bring you joy and do you, not what others promote.