Training: Looks or Performance?

I remember late last year, when my mom said to me, “Your thighs and butt are getting huge. They are bigger than from when you were fat.” I was training for my first half-marathon and I have been putting in a lot of miles to prepare. I was averaging at least 30 miles a week. Imagine how I felt when she said those words. I was DEVASTATED. I’ve been having self-esteem issues for as long as I can remember and this made it worse.

After she said that, I told her, “I know. I’ve been running a lot. At least it’s good muscle weight.” Oh, how I wish I believed what I said. My mother knows that this is a touchy subject with me and I didn’t want an argument to happen between the both of us.

I knew that my lower body was getting bulkier. I didn’t like the fact that I was getting bigger there. In fact, I wanted my thighs to slim down and lean out. Who doesn’t want lean, toned thighs and legs?

After giving much thought and reading about how “strong is the new sexy”, I realized why I still continued training the way I did. After a while, I didn’t mind that my thighs were getting bulky. In fact, I was PROUD of them. Who cares about the comments my family (aunts and uncles included) was giving me “Your thighs are getting bigger.” I was training for performance and not looks.

If I hadn’t put in all the miles, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my half-marathon. I wouldn’t have been able to complete it in the time I got, which was 2 hours, 1 minute, and 48 seconds. I wouldn’t have had that feeling of accomplishment after crossing that finish line.

It is my “huge” thighs that got me there. My muscular thighs allowed me to cross that finish line. My uncle was even there to cheer me all the way. He said that I should be happy that I was able to complete that 13.1 mile run, since most people don’t.

Whenever you train for an event, such as a marathon, half-marathon, Spartan Race, CrossFit competition, etc, don’t expect that you will lean out and lose weight. You have to train hard and fuel your body so that you are able to do and complete those events. Train to gain strength. Train for performance, not looks.

Have you trained for any sporting events?

If so, how did it turn out?

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Why I Sweat

It is 5 am. I can see the orange tinge of the sun as it peaks over the horizon. I am outside as I am doing burpees, push-ups, and jumping squats, with the winter frost biting at my skin and the cold air tearing at my lungs. Even in the coldness, I am sweating and out of breath. I wonder, “Why am I doing this?” “Why am I putting myself through this torture?”

I could have hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.  I could still be enjoying that amazing dream I was having earlier. I could stay in my warm bed. I could avoid all the pain and suffering.  I could be eating poptarts and drinking hot chocolate while watching cartoons on TV.

So, why am I putting myself through that torture? Actually, it is not torture. It is cleansing. I am in a better mood after my workout. The sweating helps me relieve the stress that I have. The sweat are the tears of pain that I am going through and is leaving my body. It makes me feel better and more relaxed after my workout.

Exercise is my only outlet when I am stressed or in a bad mood. During my workout, I concentrate on what I am doing at that moment. Am I running? I will concentrate on my running, the speed I am going, and the music I am listening to. I don’t have to think about the things going on in my life during that time. Am I lifting weights? I concentrate on how many repetitions I am doing so that I don’t lose track. You can say that I am “in the zone” during my workout and then, it makes me feel better after. All the endorphins come and I feel happy and relaxed.

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That’s not the only reason why I exercise. Here are a few other reasons why I exercise.

  1. I don’t get tired walking up the stairs. I am sure some of you have experience fatigue when walking up the stairs. You get out of breath and have to take a quick break. It can make one feel embarrassed, right? However, with exercise, I now walk up the stairs with ease. Instead of dreading the stairs, I enjoy going up the stairs. It even made sightseeing easier in China, when I climbed up the Great Wall of China. The stairs were steep!
  2. I can lift that 50 pound bag of brown rice. It’s the everyday things that I appreciate, now that I can actually do them. Before, I had to ask for help to carry that bag of rice. Now, I carry it with ease. It makes me feel better about myself, knowing that I can actually take care of myself and do things on my own. What’s even better? I can help other people carry or lift heavy objects if they need help.
  3. I exercise for my health. Exercise helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Not only is it for my physical health, but for my mental health. As I mentioned earlier, it helps me relieve stress, allowing me to relax.

I DON’T exercise for these two reasons.

  1. To fit into my skinny jeans. Exercise isn’t just about the physical appearance. It is about your health. If you bulk up with muscle, you may need a bigger size of skinny jeans and yet, still look fit.
  2. To look like the Victoria Secret’s models. Don’t do endless exercise just to burn off the calories. You won’t end up looking like those models. Trust me. You’ll end up tiring yourself and your muscle tissues will eventually start breaking down. Instead, just focus on being healthy.

There are many reasons why people exercise.

Do you exercise? If so, why?

Do you like to exercise?