While motivation dwindles to an all-time low, I take a chance on working out.
“You just have to do one sport. That's all I ask."
Even back before this whole pandemic situation came around, I did not have much exercise. One of my main sources of breaking some sweat was high school P.E., where I also had my first experience working in an actual gym. The other main source of exercise would be from fencing.
It took me a long time before settling on a sport to commit to. My father is very insistent on my brother and me having at least one sports-related extracurricular to stay healthy. He himself played on a table tennis team when he was younger, and I definitely agree with his sentiment now that I've grown up a little. However, I was never much of a sporty person--to be honest, I still ain't. I didn't enjoy any of the sports I was sent to, and I ended up trying out all types of sports from tennis all the way to archery. Eventually, I settled on fencing. Although there was a period of wanting to quit, by then we had already purchased the expensive uniform and gear, so I decided to stick with it. Not long after, I began to really enjoy it. I developed friendships and rivalries in my group class, and I started to relish my victories and musing on my defeats.
Unfortunately, before I could complete my training episode and become one of the best among my peers, quarantine hit and I ceased to have any exercise at all. I couldn't even bike around the city anymore because my family and I moved down to Southern California to live with my grandparents and help them with groceries, etc. My family were (and still are) quite strict about quarantine, I didn't have a bike, plus my friends were hundreds of miles away.
At first, my dog Aurie and I would go on some walks, but soon enough, I lost all motivation to get out of the house at all.
My body was feeling the side effects of staying inside every day, and the most noticeable part was my weight. I have been slightly underweight since middle school, and I assumed that quarantine would lead me to gain weight from sitting all day. However, the opposite happened, and I actually lost some weight. I became even skinnier than I had been before, sometimes missing breakfast and also having a smaller appetite.
This sloppy lifestyle changed after my cousin Austin moved in. After claiming his spot and erecting his dual-monitor setup for his computer, we all began to see each other more often than ever before. He is six years older than I am, so although we're cousins, he is more like an older brother to me. Over our time in quarantine, Austin and my father had put together a small gym in the garage with dumbbells, mats, weights, pull-up and leg-lift stands, etc., but I never stepped into it up until then.
Austin was pretty lean. I would often see him enter the garage to workout for a while and come back exhausted, but I never considered joining him. When I was younger, I didn't like the idea of working out, because I equated it to looking like a muscular monster, and everyone told me that it would stunt my growth. This is why even I was surprised when I quickly agreed after he told me to join him.
It definitely wasn't easy.
Meet the Garage
I learned many things throughout this experience, and my first challenge was during warm-up. I didn't grow up with jump ropes during recess or anything like that, so it took me a good week or so just to consistently jump rope without whipping myself on accident or tripping over the rope. I learned I sucked at jump rope.
My next challenge was the actual working out. I always considered myself as an average, healthy teenager, but when I found myself struggling with unquestionably the smallest weights we had, I began to wonder if that was really true.
"Okay," I comforted myself, "so my arms are pretty useless. But I've always known that--fencing was more about the legs, anyway, right?"
The first day ended, and I was completely drained. That was the day I learned how incredibly weak I was.
Right after that, I learned to deal with being sore every day. And when a muscle was finally not sore, we'd work it out again. When Austin realized I was underweight, he would fill more rice into my bowl at mealtime, get me to drink protein shakes after every workout session, and prepare a fourth meal before I went to bed. I started to drink more and more water (during and outside of workout), developing more and more of an appetite, and now I am pretty used to the new lifestyle. I gained over 5 pounds in the first week, and I only sometimes walk down the stairs funny after leg-day.
You Don't Want to Try My Cousin's Baked Chicken
So Austin eats this one dish almost every evening. It's probably the driest, blandest chicken breast you'll ever see (because boneless chicken requires the least work). According to him, although red meat like beef contains the most protein, white meat like chicken is better for working out.
One day, he forced me to eat one with him, and it was as dry and bland as it looked. To be fair, after having it many times since, it tastes pretty good when it's fresh out of the oven, but otherwise, it is just awful.
Aspirations in the Mirror
Something that has always stuck with me is my poor posture. It's a problem that I recognize but could never correct. Working out and building some back muscle has helped me properly lift my body and stand straight, but this is just one of the benefits I hope to achieve.
I've been more interested in my image in the past few years--and I mean this in a healthy way. I went from wearing whatever my mother bought me to shopping online for my own clothes. I enjoy presenting myself to best of my ability, especially for formal settings or simply to wear the impression I wish to encapsulate. Finding my own style is still a work in progress, but strengthening the foundation that is my physical body allows for a whole new manner of expression. I am not interested in looking like the bodybuilders of cartoons; rather I would like to improve upon my self and my lifestyle.
Taking images of myself to see progress is very motivating. It was a great surprise to have already seen some improvement in just a month!
See you next time...!
I have a friend that also wants to begin working out, and Austin has been generous enough to help my friend with a basic jump start. I am very grateful for being able to access a resource like my cousin for support at a time where motivation swings low, but I hope that this post has somewhat motivated yourself to perhaps do something you've been meaning to do. COVID-19 is as ubiquitous as ever in the news with record breaking numbers every day, but I hope that you are healthy and well during this time. Thank you for your time.