Blood, sweat, and more sweat.

Approximately this time last year, I had just completed 2 months of community pharmacy rotation with some of my favourite people in Victoria, and they had not only taught me many things in terms of pharmaceutical care in the community, but also that leading a balanced lifestyle should always be a priority in staying healthy and whole. Funnily enough, I didn’t do much exercise except play badminton once a week while I was in Victoria, but after I returned home, my friends got me some Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels DVDs for my birthday, and I began to make conscious changes in my lifestyle.

My first attempt at the Bob Harper: Ultimate Cardio Body one-hour workout (which is now my go-to workout) was quite discouraging. I had to stop after only 20 minutes of the workout because I was already exhausted and ready to pass out. But I thought to myself, “This is just the beginning, and I will have to keep working at it to see improvement.”

Then I started running again in January. Previously, I had gone out for short jogs on and off, but never fully committed to the activity, nor did I really make an effort to fit it into my routine. However, I had always liked the idea of running, and how the only competitor out there is yourself, nobody else. At first, I was also disappointed in my performance. But I kept at it, gradually made an effort to run at least 2-3 times per week, and by April I was able to run 5k without breaks. I discovered that I really enjoyed running, and it only kept getting better from there; by August I had run my fastest 5k in just under 28 minutes. Before I knew it, running became a big part of my life, so much so that if I didn’t go out for more than 4-5 days, my legs would start getting restless and pester me to go do some sort of physical activity.

More recently, residency has been taking up more time, and the seasons have been taking away sunlight and warmth, but I have found other activities to engage in at least one a week even if I don’t have time to run: badminton, ultimate frisbee, and/or volleyball. I pulled my right ankle posterior lateral ligament playing ultimate, and I only realized how much running and these sports meant to me when I was devastated by my doctors advice to avoid weight-bearing sports for one month. I felt so uneasy and restless that I even went to the community pool for a swim after a week of not doing anything (and I hadn’t swam in years). Thankfully, it healed quickly, and as the horrible patient that I am, I started exercising against medical advice after 2 weeks.

Today, I did my favourite Bob Harper one-hour workout again, and it was the first time that I felt in control and was able to follow all the exercises *almost* completely (except for the mountain climbers). I knew that my fitness level had improved since the beginning of the year as I saw my run times and distances improve, but it was not until today that I was able to see such a measurable improvement. I went from feeling like shit even after just 20 minutes approximately one year ago, to feeling awesome after one hour of the work-out today.

Looking back, I think the most difficult part was figuring out a way to fit exercise in my weekly routines, and re-prioritizing it in my mind as a necessity, not just a choice. I now feel stronger, healthier, and more confident in my body. It has definitely taken some blood (namely from harsh new cleats), sweat, and copious more amounts of sweat to get here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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