Things I’ve learned since joining the gym

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This is a different kind of post from what I’d normally publish on my blog, but since being a regular gym-goer for almost 7 months I think it’s about time I wrote this.

Before I begin, I’d like to state a few things. I didn’t decide to join the gym to lose weight; I guess you could say I’m quite lucky in the sense that I’m naturally slim, having never been bigger than a size 6/8. Admittedly, this is why I never made a conscious effort to make exercise part of my daily routine. That’s not to say I was 100 per cent happy with my body, but I wasn’t unhappy either. I’d become comfortable.

I was also never unhealthy. I’ve always been on top of what I eat, which I think lends itself to the fact that I was brought up in a healthy home. My mum would always buy the healthiest foods, but taught us it was still okay to indulge in moderation.

People would look at me and say things like ‘you don’t need to join a gym’, but they were only half right. I didn’t need to join a gym, but I certainly did need to exercise. Despite what my body looked like on the outside, my fitness levels were certainly waning.

I joined the gym at the end of September last year in a bid to feel fitter, healthier and toned – and I haven’t looked back since. Throughout my relatively short journey, I’ve come to notice and learn a lot of things, so I’ve decided to share them with you.

The gym is a place to sweat, not look good – I learned this pretty quickly. Before I workout, I strip my face of makeup, tie my hair up and wear a sweatband. After my workout, I’m red, hot and sweaty, but although I don’t look good, I feel great.

It baffles me when I walk in to the gym and girls are wearing full faces of makeup – one time including fake eyelashes – and simply walking on the treadmill. I’m not here to bitch and each to their own and all that, but part of me can’t help but feel that they aren’t there for the right reasons. I digress.

If I don’t leave the gym feeling sweaty, then I don’t feel as though I’ve had a very good workout. If I do, I know I’ve worked hard and it’s paying off.

Oh, and those girls on every fitness Instagram account can do one.

It’s okay to rest – During my first couple of months, I used to feel guilty for taking a day off from going to the gym. It sounds silly thinking back, but part of me would think missing a day or two would somehow reverse the hard work I’d put in and so I’d find myself going to the gym seven days a week.

After realising my ridiculousness, I now exercise 5-6 days a week. This may seem a lot to some, but I view it as if I don’t have plans after finishing work then there’s no excuse to not go.

I’ve become more self-critical – It sounds a little strange, but since I’ve been going to the gym I’m actually more self-critical of my body. Perhaps it’s because I’m making a conscious effort to look after it more, so I’m noticing every little change along the way.

When I first began to see my arms and legs become a little muscular, I freaked out. I was used to my limbs being long and thin. I got so scared to the point that I stopped doing the leg exercises I’d been doing for ages. What I know now is that I can still do the same exercises; they just don’t need to be done every day.

Someone messaged me after a few months the other day to tell me they could notice a difference in my photos since I began exercising. They described me as “a little curvier” and although they meant well, part of me couldn’t help but think I didn’t want to look like that.

I’m still working on accepting the whole ‘strong not skinny’ thing, but I’m certainly getting there.

I don’t have to eat clean 24/7 – It’s okay to eat pizza and burgers and chocolate and all those kinds of things – just every so often.

I eat healthily during the week – with the odd exception of a meal out – and am a lot less strict with my diet over the weekend. I know that I’m going to be at the gym again soon enough, so a few slices of pizza isn’t going to hurt.

I have good days and bad days – I’ve learned that not every workout is going to leave me feeling rejuvenated and on top of the world. There’s been plenty of times where I’ve left the gym feeling frustrated or annoyed because I didn’t push myself enough, but the number of good days cancels them out.

It’s normal to have an “off” day, so I’ve learned that there’s no point beating yourself up about it.

Sometimes it becomes an obsession – This isn’t necessarily something I’m proud of, but sometimes going to the gym does feel like an obsession. I only really think this if say I forget to take my gym clothes to work one day and I begin to panic about what I’m going to do. My gym is a 10 minute walk from where I work and I live out of town, so I wouldn’t be able to go home and then come back again. Yes, there’s been an occasion where I’ve panicked so much about missing a day that I headed to the shops straight after work to buy a whole new gym kit.

I’ve even turned down going for drinks on a Friday evening because I’ve planned to go to a class.

I’m still working on it, I promise.

I LOVE keeping fit – Aside from all the ups and downs, there’s one thing I’ve learned and that’s the fact I LOVE working out.

I couldn’t imagine my life without exercise and I feel so much better for it, both inside and out.

I realise I’ve waffled on for quite a bit here, so well done if you’ve actually read until the end. Feel free to leave any comments or ask me any questions, and follow my Instagram account below for food and gym-related updates.

Hope you’ve all had a fab weekend. Post to you soon! xoxo

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4 thoughts on “Things I’ve learned since joining the gym

  1. Love this. I really need to get back into exercising, and this post was just the thing to get my motivation up. My problem is that I am currently in grad school so almost very day (minus the weekend, sometimes) I am under-slept and, by the time I get home, exercising is the last thing on my mind. Do you have any tips for what to do when you constantly feel sleepy or exhausted?

    Either way, when I worked out I was a much happier person overall. It can definitely become an obsession, and I’ve definitely skipped out on social events to go get my sweat on. But I know I would have felt guilty and self-conscious if I missed the workout. You’re not alone!

    Best of luck on your journey! Maybe post up some exercises and healthy food or “What I Eat in a Day” from time to time 🙂

    Kisses from the 6,
    Natalie
    http://nataliemint.com

  2. Thanks for this read!
    I’m hoping to join the gym in the next few weeks as my level of fitness is bad, and I’ve left university putting on half a stone due to comfort eating during dissertation writing and assignment writing. I would really enjoy a post on what to do at the gym, like how long to spend on different equipment? Again, thanks for the read 🙂

    SM 🙂

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