• Aaliyah Iona

"Rome wasn't built in a day"By Aaliyah Iona•19 Jun, 2019

Fifteen weeks ago, I set out to get the Instagram body of dreams. A two-pack at the very least with sculpted quads and booty made of steel. Now, if you have worked out longer than fifteen weeks or better yet, you are within the fitness industry, you are most likely already laughing at my intention. It was unrealistic. Ironically, I was told otherwise, but, I dealt with that way I saw fit: I gave a stern eye-roll. To clarify for those of you who may be thinking I have a fitness plan or diet to follow, worthy of delivering amazing results, I’ll tell you now, I do not. My intention was impossible, therefore unachievable. Read on for wise words and realisations.

For as long as I can remember, I have strongly disapproved of strict diets, relentlessly tracking your weight or BMI. I remember being sixteen years old and aimlessly attending my local David Lloyd every day. One evening I decided to step on the scales as I was curious as to how much exactly I weighed. I vividly remember my eyes instantly filling with tears once I saw my BMI. It suggested I was on the cusp of average and obese. I spent the following two weeks failing attempts to only eat a single bread roll from the school canteen at lunch.  I genuinely thought my BMI accounted for the size of my thighs in comparison to my peers. Had it not been for a former friend’s mom explaining to me the flaws of a BMI measurement a month or so after, I dread to think what extremities I would have taken to get it lower. It was such an extreme reaction of mine, but considering I had never overindulged in food and at that point never considered I had something “wrong” with my body, I only knew how to do what Aaliyah does best, overreact.

Today I am 24 years old, and my outlook on life is simple, if I can’t change it, I will embrace it. I have style, grace, humour and intelligence; all in all, I am happy. Still, even someone can get caught up in the scrolling on Instagram. I, like many, fell in the trap of creating an unrealistic comparison between my own body and another’s, and I beat myself up when I didn’t see what I expected in the mirror.

Fifteen weeks ago, I decided I wasn't going to Bali unless I looked fantastic. Small waist, ripped abs and a perky bum. For the most part, I remained resilient. Nevertheless, I kicked myself for eating sweets when I said I wouldn’t and for exceeding my calorie deficit. It wasn’t smooth, but I stuck with it. As a result, the biggest progress I’ve made in all this is my mindset. Not all sessions were fun or easy, but the small difference twelve weeks has made, has got me hungry for me. Although ripped abs and sculpted legs are still in my radar, I want them on my body the way my body sees fit. Not the way someone else’s look. I want to be strong and surpass my own expectations. To my surprise, my newest pride is the definition in my arm, particularly when I consider how I use to strain to practise with some weights that are now my warm-up sets. The beauty is in the process. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, but look what a beautiful city it makes.

In a way, I’m pleased I overestimated my results as it brought me back down to reality and fed me a large spoon of humble pie. Previously, when people described feeling good after a work-out, I would roll my eyes. I now admit, there is something so satisfying when you manage to push through a session you were dreading be it in the morning or on the weekend. Furthermore, I have a newfound respect for people that dedicate their lives to fitness or sports as it is not easy. You will have your good days and bad days, but what’s important is to remain patient with your body.

By writing this post, I simply wanted to stamp out any preconceived ideas regarding fitness and encourage anyone reading to look at their body differently. You are far stronger and more beautiful than you know, and that’s before stepping foot in a gym. The gym certainly shouldn't be a scary place. Contrary to popular belief, 9 out of 10 people in the gym are concentrating on themselves anyway. Join a class or invest in a good personal trainer with a portfolio and testimonials.  It can get sweaty, smelly, and it will hurt, but if someone like me can pull their finger out and focus, then you can too.

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