physical fitness

LIST: How I’m fixing my relationship with fitness

Marj Casal Handog
LIST: How I’m fixing my relationship with fitness


Our relationship status? It’s no longer complicated

I’ve never been the athletic type. Except for the part that there were no classes, I dreaded school intramurals because that meant I had to participate in at least one sport. I’ve always felt that physical activities were rough, painful, and tiring. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to that kind of “torture”? At least for me, it is.

But you know, when you’re growing older, you just know that you have to have some kind of physical activity injected in your lifestyle. People have different reasons why they exercise. One reason is because you want to look good but later on you’ll realize that the more important reason you want to do it is because you want to feel good – for a long time!

That’s what happened to me. My goal has always been to lose weight so I ended up trying different kinds of diets and fitness routines that didn’t stick. It’s either because it was too difficult, I expected to see results fast and then wasn’t able to, or because it wasn’t something I found fun and enjoyable enough to do regularly. It was hard to look forward to exercising and healthy eating.

But just recently, I’ve decided to change the way I look at fitness. It’s not a one-time thing. My goal isn’t to lose my newly-wed pounds fast, it’s to be strong and healthy to take care of my husband, and soon, my own family. Fitness is a journey that I’m in for the long haul.

And here, I would like to share the steps I’m taking to fix my relationship with fitness by finding ways to make it fun and enjoy it every time.

Consult with a certified fitness coach and craft a fun fitness program together

This was one of the new things I did this time around. I’ve tried different exercises before but it was always because I heard it from a friend, I saw a fit celebrity doing it, or it was one of those trendy workouts that promise to get you in shape just after 30 days. But none of it ever stuck with me. I’ve read in the book, The Daily Stoic, that if you keep on failing to get the results you want, then you should change the way you’re working on it.

So, instead of just following my hunches, I’ve decided to sign up with a certified fitness coach so he can make a program that’s tailored to my goals and abilities. You can also talk to your coach about exercises that you find fun to do so he or she can incorporate it to your workout. By doing so, your workout sessions wouldn’t just be enjoyable but would also be safe and effective.

I never did this before because I felt it was too expensive but I also realized that my inappropriate workouts were also costing me time and money without the guarantee of results. I also found a coach who offers affordable services and even free consultations. It was a clear sign.

Create a meal plan filled with delicious and healthy food you would look forward to

Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. That’s a fact. And we can’t get away with it. As a foodie, this is something I had to come to terms with. Consulting with a registered dietician helped me with that. She taught me things that as a perpetual dieter I thought I already knew like keeping a food diary and following a meal plan. But what I didn’t know was how to do these things properly.

Keeping a food diary isn’t just about listing down the food you ate, it also helps to note how the meals made you feel – did eating 5 slices of pizza make you feel bloated? Did eating a balanced dinner help you sleep soundly? Knowing how certain foods make you feel can help you become aware of your limits – just like how you know that you need to stop after how many bottles of beer so you don’t pass out.

And creating a meal plan doesn’t mean that you’ll start depriving yourself of food. Your meal plan can be composed of delicious food you like to eat but cooked in a healthier way. You can still eat your favorite food like cereals for breakfast or post-workout meals, just choose healthier ones like Nestle Fitnesse. I like making my bowl of Nestle Fitnesse cereals more fun by adding fruits like bananas and berries.

Bundle your fitness habits with activities you like doing

This was something I learned from the book, Atomic Habits. The author calls this “temptation bundling.” It’s bundling the things you need to do with the things you want to do. For example, our coach suggests that even on non-workout days, we should engage in active recovery by doing light exercises like walking or jogging.

Honestly, on non-workout days, I just don’t want to move. So I tried bundling jogging and walking with one of my favorite activities. One that I can only do when I’m not consciously doing something else – listening to podcasts. I especially like casual and funny podcasts. I actually started looking forward to getting up every morning to walk or jog so I can have a good laugh before I start my day.

Some people bundle watching Netflix with running on a treadmill or cycling. How about bundling a favorite childhood activity and a workout sesh by going for a swim? Or simply bundle walking for a few minutes around the neighborhood by taking your dog with you. Whatever your interests are, you can bundle it with a fitness activity instead of doing it while sitting on a couch or lying in bed. We can make our fun activities more active!

Find someone to go into this journey with

Whether that’s your sibling or your best friend, having someone who could be with you in this fitness journey can change how you feel about it significantly. Working out isn’t as fun as binge-watching but if you do it with someone you love, doing planks and push-ups suddenly becomes more bearable.

Meet safely with your cousins or friends but instead of just playing video games or watching movies together, why not do a group fitness activity like Zumba or aerobics? Wouldn’t it be fun to watch each other bust a move? Or if you’re safely going on a date, why not suggest doing yoga or running together before having dinner? Exercising boosts your happy hormones after all.

In my case, I asked my husband to join me. We work out together, cook healthy meals together, and keep each other in check. I don’t think I ever laughed while doing goblet squats with a 15 lb weight until I started exercising with my husband.

The road to fixing your relationship with fitness could feel rough. I think what helped me finally embrace the process is by accepting that this isn’t a contest. It’s not about who can run the fastest or who can lose the most pounds. It’s about finding ways to make fitness fun and something to look forward to because that’s the only way you can keep going.

What I want now aren’t results after a few weeks but to build fun and sustainable fitness habits that would last a lifetime. So, it’s okay if sometimes I want to take a break if I feel tired as long as I bounce back again. What I want is to feel strong and energized not just in the next two months of my program but in the years to come. So, it’s important that my fitness journey is as fun as it can be, that my workouts are safe and based on what I enjoy doing and not on anybody else’s. And if I can do it, then you definitely can, too! –