While today I have the physique of a fitness model and the mindset of a personal trainer, I didn’t exactly start out that way.
I was like any other young, naive college girl, looking to increase her fitness level so her outward physical appearance matched the unrealistic expectations of the fitness models I envied from the magazines.
And so I went. Head first into the gym, not knowing the difference between a rep, a set and a rest, and exercised like I had never exercised before!
At first, it was satisfying. I felt good after a workout; I got really sweaty, my heart rate was up, I was weight lifting and doing cardio. But my body weight always stayed the same, and I couldn’t see a whole lot of muscle definition in my upper body, let alone any in my legs. I had a flat stomach, but not the blocky look I’d seen in the fitness magazines.
Naturally, I took my lack of results as an indication that I wasn’t working out long enough, so I lengthened the time I spent at the gym. I would be there for 2, 2 1/2 hours. Daily. I never took a rest day. Back then, I thought taking a rest day would erase all the hard work you’d put into working out the day before.
Since increasing the length of my work out sessions, I started to have really strange things happen to me; I’d wake up in the morning to calf cramps from both of my legs, my lower back would be killing me even though I hadn’t worked it and I would find myself feeling overly fatigued regardless of the 12 hours of non-interrupted sleep the night before. I merely wrote these off as side effects of my intense work outs and continued my work outs as usual.
It happened one evening, after I spent an hour running on the treadmill for my typical cardio session. There was a bulge that appeared near my groin area. I had never seen this before, and it felt really tender. It frightened me so bad, I actually stopped going to the gym for a week. My rest period seemed to pay off, however, because the little bulge didn’t come back. I shrugged it off as some sort of temporary injury and went back to the gym as if nothing had happened. Sure enough, two days later, it was back. I tried skipping the gym again to get rid of it, but this time, it wasn’t going away.
I decided it was time to see my doctor about it. After all, I had no idea what this could be! After my visit, I was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia. What the heck is an inguinal hernia?? My doctor told me that an inguinal hernia is when the contents of a body cavity bulge out of the area where they are normally contained. Contrary to popular belief, hernias can occur in women. It happens to men a lot more, simply because of all the time men spend at the gym overexhausting their bodies. This is what had happened to me. It would take surgery to fix, and I couldn’t exercise for three weeks post-op. I needed to take care of my injury, so I decided to go through with the surgery.
During my recovery time I had a lot of time to think. I thought about what could have caused this injury, about how much I worked out, the minimal food I ate, water I didn’t drink, just about everything a person could analyze, I analyzed to death. I realized that what I was trying to accomplish required a lot more than what I was offering. I concluded that if I wanted to achieve what I was setting my mind to, I needed to learn more about what it took to get there. I decided to enlist the help of a teacher, or personal trainer.
I learned so much about the body and muscular development. How our bodies are similar to the way a car works; our bodies need fuel and to be refueled in order to sustain itself and recover from a workout. I learned that different sports require different workout regimens and nutritional intake. The more extreme your fitness goals, the more your workout and diet need to be adjusted to accommodate them.
I didn’t just learn how to have a healthy body; I learned how to have a healthy mind, an important, but often times, neglected muscle in our body.