BY JENNY WILSON
It’s a new year —bring on those unrealistic fitness and weight loss goals. This past year it’s been all about the challenges. Squat challenge, abs challenge, push up challenge etc. I admit I tried the squat challenge, but I didn’t follow through to the end of it. I simply forgot all about it. So how do you actually make sure those new years resolutions actually stick? I’m not a fitness expert, or a nutritionist or anything— obviously— but I do know what worked for me.
I was always the “bigger girl”. Big boned is what everyone used to call me. Taller and thicker than other girls my age. I’m not saying that I was overweight or anything, but I was aware that I wasn’t the same size as the other girls my age. My hips were wider, my stomach puffier, and I had thunder thighs. That’s what I used to call them anyways. My mom always used to say that I had my dad’s body, and I used to resent it. I didn’t want bigger thighs, and hips, I just wanted to be a stick, like all the other girls.
I spent most of my childhood playing sports, everything from soccer, to baseball, to volleyball, to skiing, to figure skating, and it wasn’t until high school when my figure skating coach gave me some tough love, and told me that with my legs I should be at the front of the stroking line. At first I was offended, and then I realized that she meant my muscles were stronger than the other girls and that I should be able to skate faster because of it. After that I tried really hard to embrace my body rather than be ashamed of it, and skating was a huge help in that. It was something that made me feel strong and it kept me fit and healthy.
Unfortunately I couldn’t keep skating forever. It was too expensive to keep going in university, and after loosing an outlet I gained the freshmen 15… or 20. Once again I was dissatisfied with my body. I made peace with my body shape long ago and just accepted that I was never going to be a size 0, but as I gained weight I also lost my muscle. I spent most of my university years like this. Hating the way my body looked but being too lazy and discouraged to do anything about it. I made resolutions at new years, and told myself I was going to be so good, but it wasn’t until I made a routine for myself that I actually started going to the gym and eating better. This was in the summer when I got a job working outside and went to the gym every day after work. It might have been because I started paying for a monthly membership or simply because I was sick of looking the way I did. I worked hard that first summer, and I felt good, but I still hadn’t lost any weight. I was still around 180 pounds, and wearing size 11 or 13. It was super discouraging, and I eventually thought that I was meant to be this size and there was no way to change it. I still went to the gym all the time because it gave me so much more energy and made me feel better, but I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted.
Ironically, this all changed my last year of university. My roommate was going through a break up, and she was in the angry stage. “I just want to get really fit, and hot!” she said to me one night, and I was totally on board. So we made ourselves a meal plan, except instead of telling us what to eat, it told us what not to eat. It included all of our favorite foods that were bad for us, and things that we would indulge on. We used to eat pasta almost every night, so we cut that to once a week, no more chicken wings for Jenny, no more ice cream for Jenny, no more cookies for Taylor, only one wrap a day or two slices of bread, and GO TO THE GYM. We hung it up on our fridge and we stuck to it for the most part. Weekends were fair game for whatever, because you can’t restrict yourself for a week and expect not to binge. Eventually my whole diet changed. Salad used to go bad in my fridge before I even opened the package, and now I can hardly buy enough of it to get me through a week. I used to eat a loaf of bread and a block of cheese a week, and now I refuse to buy either because they’ll just go bad. I still stick to my rule of free weekends, but I know what’s good for my body and what’s not.
After completely changing my diet, and going to the gym at least three times a week my body started changing. Honestly I didn’t really notice at first. Sure, I knew that my stomach was tighter and that I had arm muscles if I flexed, but I didn’t realize how much it had changed. No one at school said anything because they saw me every day, but once I got home, people started commenting on how great I looked. I’m not going to lie, it feels amazing when someone tells you that you look good and you must have lost some weight. So I checked myself on the scale at home, and I had dropped 20 pounds. I couldn’t believe it. All my hard work had finally paid off, but then I got drunk on it. I started to become obsessed with the way my body looked and what I was eating. During the summer I almost completely cut out any sort of typical carb and started eating salad like it was my job. I went harder at the gym than ever before. Staying up to two and a half hours, and I loved my results. I felt stronger and leaner than I ever have in my entire life. I was smaller than when I was in high school. I had to buy all new clothes because my old ones were too big. But I’m slowly starting to realize that I have a hard time sustaining that kind of lifestyle here in Toronto. I’m busy with work, and school and it’s hard to find time to go to the gym. I still eat extremely healthy, but I lost lots of muscle because I haven’t been working out, so here comes my new years resolution. Get back to the gym, but don’t make it a job, do it because you want to, and because you know what the outcome looks like, and you definitely like that. Understand that it’s okay to go out for dinner an eat some ice cream once and a while, that it’s okay if your stomach isn’t a washboard. It’s hidden under a giant sweater right now anyway, and that thunder thighs might just be one of the best things about your body.