2023 was the first year I started to love my body, and I achieved it by accident.
Cardio/HIIT (high-intensity interval training) classes used to be my holy religion. I made it a priority to go five to six times a week, sometimes even squeezing in a double. I was convinced that if I wasn’t on the brink of exhaustion or dripping sweat, the workout was a complete waste of time.
And I still wasn’t happy with the results. My weight stayed constant, and my muscle mass was nonexistent.
Unfortunately, since I couldn’t see the detrimental effects of my workout mentality, I had to feel it. These workouts started taking a toll on my body and left me physically drained.
After being constantly sore, overwhelmingly stressed, and always hungry, I knew I needed a whole new approach to my fitness regime.
I needed a change. And that change started with Pilates.
Doing Less is Actually Really Hard
At least at first.
The shift from lifting heavy weights and doing sprints/jumps for 45 minutes straight to laying down on a reformer was rather shocking. After my first Pilates class, I remember saying, “I don’t get it.”
Gradually, I started to integrate more yoga, barre, and sculpting workouts into my routine. These new classes were calming, yet still left me driving home sore, which satisfied my need for reassurance.
Overall, my constant physical discomfort was alleviated, and I gained a newfound sense of strength and balance. The gentler nature of these challenging workouts reduced the stress on my body and renewed my enthusiasm for regular exercise.
I also threw in daily walks to add in some cardio. Once I accepted that I will never become a runner, I began to actually enjoy the strolls around my neighborhood.
After a few weeks of figuring out a routine that worked for my body and schedule, I finally cut out HIIT, bootcamps, and most cardio completely.
Beyond the physical benefits, my transition from high-intensity to low-impact workouts was a game-changer for my mental well-being. The high stress levels that accompany intense workouts constantly left me frustrated with the challenge of maintaining consistency.
The mindful approach required by low-impact exercises became a therapeutic escape, offering some peace from the demands of daily life.
My skin cleared up, my anxiousness dropped back down, and my overall mood was lighter and more pleasant.
Surprisingly, the switch also affected my appetite. The insatiable hunger that followed strenuous workouts became more manageable, eliminating the need for constant snacking. This shift in eating habits contributed to a healthier relationship with food, reinforcing the holistic nature of the transformation.
Since last year, I’ve gained a pair of hips, a butt, and a six-pack. Genetics definitely plays a part in my transformation, but overall, I’m proud. I finally feel like I allowed myself to grow into my feminine adult body.
Switching from high-intensity to low-impact exercises has ignited a kind of self-love towards myself. I wish I could say the decision stemmed from a desire for a sustainable and healthier fitness experience, but in all honesty, I was just tired. Exhausted by keeping the 10 pounds off and holding on to the idea that my body should forever appear as it did as a teenager.
Taking a step away from the intensity has allowed me to listen to my body in all areas. When it needs to sleep in, I allow it. When I feel tightness, I stretch. When I feel like I’m pushing too hard, I take a step back. When I feel my strength, I push harder.
I used to ignore what my body was saying (or more like screaming) to me. Now, she’s the boss.
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