A Journey to the Top: What Working Out Means To Me
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Health and Wellness

A Journey to the Top: What Working Out Means To Me

What it's like for an average person to go through a fitness journey.

A Journey to the Top: What Working Out Means To Me
Alex Wheeler

Who doesn't love "New Year's resolutions?" Actually a large majority, mostly because they set unrealistic goals for themselves and quit a week or two in, but not me. After my senior season of football had ended I had a real problem, more specifically, my weight. I ate a lot of food, but usually, the amount of work I would put in for football would counteract my terrible eating habits. When I was done with football however, my weight skyrocketed due to the amount of work I was doing was practically nothing. I went from a reasonable 180 to a disgusting 220 in only three or four months. My new year's resolution in 2019? Simple: get as fit as possible, I even documented it! So here's a summed up version of what it was like to go on "The Journey."

In my opinion, the hardest part about starting to work out is starting out. Absolutely nothing is fun about starting to work out. You can barely lift that much weight, everyone around you looks way better than you, and everything hurts an hour after you leave. Me being the stupid 18-year old that I was, decided to just pick up weight-wise where I left off in football, what a terrible mistake. After my first workout, I was completely pooped, like I couldn't walk type of pooped, but I persevered. After a rest day, I continued my journey to not be a big boy.

Day after day I started to feel like nothing was getting accomplished, all I really felt was pain, but deep down I knew if I stuck to it something would surprise me. Early on my good friends Mitchell and Logan wanted to workout with me regularly, which was great because we all started from rags in hopes to earn riches in the form of gains. Every day after school we would head straight to the gym, or after we got off of work, and the more we went together, the more comfortable I felt. The fact that I had friends with me that were in the same position was incredibly comforting. We weren't exactly obese, but rather we wanted to better ourselves with hard work and effort.

I finally started to realize the potential I could reach around the third week of consistently working out, I lost a bit of weight, I was slowly climbing the ladder of weight ahead of me, and my run time was getting increasingly more impressive. It wasn't just the effort of going to the gym that helped me improve though, as I took a couple of steps to ensure I would relapse. I would consistently only eat one meal a day, nothing major, just enough so I don't die, and I would always, always, bring a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and a long sleeve on top of what I was already wearing to workout in. The reason being, the more layers of clothing you have on, the hotter your body gets, the higher your body gets, the more it sweats to cool your body off. The problem with this? Everything. It's an effective way to increase sweating, but the constant feeling of suffocation and chafing is a lot to handle daily.

The longer my journey was documented, the more support I would receive behind it. It was really heartwarming to see people commenting on my posts saying they were impressed at the improvement or how seeing it made them want to start working out, and this only pushed me to work even harder. I didn't just want to get fit, I wanted to break personal barriers, new personal records, completing things I never could. The first thing I wanted to try to break? Climbing a rope. I know climbing a rope isn't very flashy or very interesting, but it's incredibly difficult. The fact that it combines technique and strength was a real testament to my progress. After days of asking gym friends tips and help with how to climb a rope, I finally attempted it; success.

That... gave me hope. Every single day I would cater to my workouts and optimize them to see what I could improve on. New exercises, bigger weights, the journey was truly taking shape. Around this time I started to think about the workouts that I hated the least: chest day. Out of all the three main lifts: the squat, deadlift, and bench, my bench was the weakest and it's always been that way. Now seemed like the perfect time to change that, so I set out to lift 225 pounds on the bench press.

I recorded almost every time I attempted to break that barrier, but I wasn't lucky at all. The best advice I could give someone in a similar situation? Be patient. Slowly attempt to go up in weight and constantly switch it up from endurance to strength. Try different kinds of workouts that can improve your bench without necessarily doing a bench press. This was probably the most important thing I could do, mostly because it forces you to look at a lot of workouts in a different light, rather than just doing one thing to improve one area, try looking at what compliments your weaknesses. After dozens of tries and a bunch of revisions to what I could do form-wise and exercise-wise, something amazing happened: I did it.

There's one last accomplishment I was proud of, however, and that was my 405 lbs deadlift. Referenced to the three main lifts I mentioned earlier, the deadlift is my best. Not sure why, my back has just always been stronger than any other muscle group, but that's not important. My best up until that point was 315 lbs, 90 pounds lower, so there was work to be done. Again, this isn't something you can rush and the fact that it's literally your back and you only have one spine makes it somewhat scary. I probably spent a couple of months raising my deadlift PR, slowly whittling my distance to my goal. Luckily enough, only a couple of weeks before I left my hometown to live in Athens for the academic semester, I finally met my goal.

A little over a year after I started the journey and I've still stayed consistent with my weight thankfully. I know this article sort of seemed like me just wanting to do something and then working towards it, that's all working out really is. Everyone is in the gym for a reason, and whether you're the newbie who just showed up or the seasoned veteran who has veins on top of their veins, you're both there to better yourself. Working out takes time, effort, and willpower, and I won't lie I've kind of went silent when it comes to my journey, mostly because of COVID-19 that's stopped any means of fun from entering the world. However, looking back through my videos and seeing myself do things that were physically impossible is empowering. I'm sure everyone is just begging for something to do during this quarantine, so maybe try being active! Though it may not be the best idea to be around big groups at this time, you can always go on a walk or run and maybe even add some push-ups if you're up to it, in the end, it's really up to you. Working out has ~literally~ changed my life for the better and I can't wait for the gyms to be back open.

If I can make strides like this, you can, too.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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