Why I started going to the gym

Posted on: May 12th, 2017, in Gym.

I was never into sports, that is for sure. When I was in high school I used to avoid as much as I could participating in PE classes, the same thing happened when I was in my first two years of med school when PE was mandatory. When I was thinking about doing sports I always found excuses, especially my weight. If you have seen my social media profiles you can easily figure out that I am very skinny person. My BMI (body mass index) is 17.2 which indicates that I am underweight. I have 170cm in height and my weight is 50kg, which is a lot less than the weight I should have (58-72kg). So knowing about the fact that I am underweight I always associated being active with loosing weight, which is totally wrong.

The people who followed my blog know that in September 2016 I started having panic attacks. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and I was going though depression at that time. Before I started going to my therapist I went to see a psychiatrist which recommended me to start doing a sport. Even after a lot of therapy sessions, I still feel anxious almost everyday. This caused my heart rate to be very high. In January and February 2017 my heart rate was not getting under 110 beats/minute which is way too high. The normal heart rate for an adult is between 60 – 100 beats/minute. What goes above 100 beats/minute is considered sinus tachycardia. The problem with tachycardia is that is overworks my heart and in time it may lead to serious conditions. I went to a cardiologist and had an ECG (electrocardiogram) done. But because I have white coat anxiety (which is fear of the doctor, that is totally ironic because I will be one in a short time) my heart rate was somewhere around 125-130 beats/minute in the moment I took the test, so they couldn’t get a very good ECG from me, but the ones that I took showed some mild abnormalities. I talked to my cardiologist and she told me that this is influenced by my anxiety disorder and that I should really reconsider my lifestyle and after I did we will see from there.

I knew that already, because I had my cardiology rotation this year and I figured it out that I have to do some major changes. So I started to do them, step by step.

First I started to lower my coffee and Coca Cola intake. I used to drink 2-3 cups of coffee per day, because if love something in this world is the coffee taste. I can’t give it up at all because I love it too much, but it’s a start. After that I figured that it’s time to start exercising. Doing physical activity and pushing your body releases the catecholamine excess (they are hormones that once their blood levels increase, they put your body in an alert state, getting it ready for a fight – so between their effects there is tachycardia too). Also, after physical activity there is an important release of endorphins (which are hormones that once released give you a good mood, they are also called hormones of happiness).

At first I tried to go running. I did go for two days and then I realized that I am not a runner. I hated every single moment of it. Seeing that running wasn’t an option I searched for other options to keep myself in shape. So In April I decided to join a gym, being the best option I found at the moment. I decided to focus on my legs at the beginning because it was the most appealing thing for me. After the first time at the gym I acquired a severe delayed onset muscle soreness (known as muscular fever). I literally couldn’t walk, not even moving my legs without hurting. I decided to take a 3 days break so I could let my muscles rest a little bit, then I would return to the gym. After that episode I went exercising at every 2 days.

Why it was the best decision ever? Because after going 4 times, I managed to see the difference in the way I feel. I felt more energetic, happier, my self-esteem increased, I am more enthusiastic about everything and also my anxiety and sadness levels decreased a lot. Also, it gives me hope that my anxiety will go away and that my hearth beats will slow down, which is exactly what I need. Hope that things will get better. I never thought that one hour and half of workout will make me feel so good. And I am not even pushing myself too hard, because I am afraid that I will get injured. I took a break for one week because I had exams and I kept postponing it. Doing that I realized that I started feeling again anxious and scared after a few days of not going. Seeing this, I realized how important it is for me to keep up with going to the gym and much good it does regarding my conditions.

I plan on continuing this important change I made in my life, hoping that until this summer it will make a major difference and it will help me a lot with my health issues. Then I will do some more tests and see if my heart beat decreased and I will be monitoring my anxiety episodes to see if they will be more rare. Of course I am working on my anxiety with my therapist because we have to treat the cause or my anxiety. We found almost all the problems and we are working on them, but now I understand how much the lifestyle counts in the therapeutic process and how much work it takes to get better.

Of course going to the gym is not the only change I will make, but I wanted to take it slow this time. I always thought that change has to be radical and do everything at once. I found out this past few months, that it is not true. I have to take it slow and build my life with small but steady steps.

I totally recommend you joining a gym, not only for shaping your body (at the moment this is not even on my goals list, my goal is to get healthier and after that I will make a plan for improving my body’s looks), but also for being more happy, confident and increase your self esteem. For me it worked, I am sure it will for you too.

So, are you going to the gym? If not, are you doing other sports? Do you plan on going? Let me know in the comments below. I am really curious about your experience regarding sports and going to the gym. Until next time, take care and remember to love more <3.

i’m so excited for you!! &happy! i’m also really impressed you were able to cut down on caffeine.. wish i could do that too ;) hope you’re well <3

Posted on May 13th, 2017, at 1:09 PM by Amy.

It’s great that you’re enjoying going to the gym, and I’m glad to hear it’s improving your health. I’ve always viewed the gym as a weight loss thing, also, even though it shouldn’t just be about that. Health is far more important!

I’ve always wanted to give the gym a go, but it’s so expensive, especially when I might not have enough time to go very often. I’m trying to exercise at home instead, but my motivation is not great, unfortunately. Hopefully I’ll get into it. I’m so unfit right now!

It’s great that you’ve managed to cut down on caffeine. I’m so bad with fizzy drinks and coffee – I definitely need to drink more water! I’ve gotten into some really bad habits since working in an office!

Good luck keeping up with this!

Posted on May 13th, 2017, at 2:29 PM by Peach.

Wow, thats quite a lot of interesting stuff going on with you. Happy for you and hope you continue to do well. I’m rooting for ya! I stopped drinking caffeine, soda, and juice myself. It can be hard but I think you and others can do it if you put your mind to it. True, I do get cravings for it but I remember how it made me feel when drinking those drinks. Good for one minute then the next crashed hard and feeling sick. I mean for me at least but anyone can be difrent. Stay strong! Glad things are going well for you.. Please take care~<3

Posted on May 13th, 2017, at 7:47 PM by Michelle.

I am glad that you’re going to the gym and getting better at it! <3

Posted on May 14th, 2017, at 10:58 AM by Pauline.

I really enjoyed reading this Cristina! Thank you so much for sharing.

I can totally relate to your story, I am actually planning to write up a blog post regarding the gym and working out, relating to the reduction of anxiety and depression. Back in August, I was in the worse shape mentally and physically. I’m really glad that you’ve gotten into a routine and making use of the time to improve yourself. You go girl <3 If you're looking for other steps to improve your mental and physical health, I just posted a blog about my morning routine which has had such a positive impact in my lifestyle.

<3 Sending you lots of love!

Posted on May 14th, 2017, at 8:12 PM by Nancy.

It’s great that you started going to the gym and watching what you consume. Soda and coffee are definitely bad for you if you intake so much of it. Glad to hear that you’ve been feeling better since going to the gym and hope you’ll continue exercising! I go to the gym on a regular basis and it’s seriously beneficial in many ways! Having a clean diet is just as important. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your journey to good health!