My Journey into Fitness
This year’s recipient, Ashley Chen, wrote about how she has integrated fitness into her life for an all-around better life. Congratulations, Ashley!
My Journey into Fitness
By Ashley Martinez Chen
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. The human body is an incredible machine that does so many things for us, such as fight off diseases. It’s capable of regulating body temperature and regeneration. The human body is always working for us. In return, it needs proper nutrition, sleep, and exercise. A body deprived of these necessities can suffer severe consequences such as: heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Emotional consequences can be experienced too. There’s a link between the lack of exercise and emotional problems. For example, depression and self-esteem issues are common. It’s important to be comfortable with your body. Making the change to eat healthy and exercise regularly has been my greatest step in self-improvement. I have better self-confidence and sleep more at night.
“She’s pretty”, was always a compliment I heard from my parents, other family members, and friends. Growing up, everybody made me feel like I was beautiful. They would talk about my hair, eyes, and lips, because they all went so well together. I had the perfect appearance for a child, at least to them. Around the age of 13, things changed. I noticed the girls in my class began to look different. They were putting on weight and in different places. Everyone except me. I wasn’t too worried, because it was going to happen eventually to me. However, it never did. One day, my mom pointed out that I had my stretch marks but no signs of womanly curves. She said I would have her body type. At school, my friends said I was too skinny. I was insecure, so I decided to gain weight. Eighth grade year, I gained almost 15 pounds. In high school, I realized my body wasn’t filling out in places I wanted it to. I still didn’t have the curves I desired. That’s what pushed me to go to the gym.
Excitedly, I researched workouts, diets, tips, and influencers to help with my transformation. I opened a gym membership and began working out four times a week. My efforts primarily consisted of getting my lower body bigger. However, I changed my goals once I studied nutrition and the benefits of exercising. The fitness world introduced me into what I want now. My goal is to be as healthy as I can be. I started by cutting out fast food and sodas, and replacing them with whole wheat foods, vegetables, and fruits. From there, I began to include more cardio and upper body exercises in my routine. I was happy to be fueling my body with the foods it needed. I felt good about challenging my body by keeping it active. Weeks later, I began to see changes in my body. My arms were toned, and my quads were bigger. I couldn’t have been happier with the amazing work my body had done. I learned to love myself.
Going to bed at night is a rewarding thing at the end of the day. Your body begins to relax and eventually goes to sleep. In my case, my body could be tired, but my mind was still running. I tried to not think about anything, but it was impossible not to. Something I found interesting from exercising, especially in the evenings, was that it relaxed me. All that running was tiring me out in a good way. Together with my body’s natural sleep drive, I was in bed by ten o’clock. For years, I was only getting 6 hours of sleep at night. The teenage brain requires 12 hours. That’s an impossible number with my busy schedule. Now, I sleep 8 hours a night. Exercise was the answer to my sleep deprivation. My new healthy lifestyle allows me to be happy and confident. I’ve experienced so many impactful benefits.
Working towards self-improvement isn’t an easy journey. I faced many obstacles in the way. Disappointing myself was a big fear of mine. I had to learn to be patient and strong. It was difficult not give in to my cravings, because I’m a huge food lover. Of course, I have my cheat days and enjoy Chick-fil-A from time to time. Consistency and dedication were the most important aspects of my journey towards self- improvement. Exercising and eating well fixed my sleep deprivation and boosted my self-esteem. I look forward to the future and what other changes I’ll make happen.
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