My Fitness Journey

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Stop.

Whatever you’re doing, just stop.

Stop for a second and think how much social media affects our daily life and poisons our self-esteem and body image. Yes, this will be one part of the post you’re reading right now. I would be lying, if I said writing this post was easy. Because it really wasn’t.

This will be the most personal and intimidating blog post from me and honestly I’m not sure, if it is a good idea. But well, what the heck. I already started writing.

In this post I will try my best to ”summarize” my so called Fitness Journey and share my experiences about fighting for body positivity.

Let the story begin…

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I’ve always been a sporty person and had several sport related hobbies ever since I was a kid. I have tried track and field, tennis, cross country skiing, basketball, badminton, football, dancing (show jazz and hiphop), downhill skiing, rollerskating, snowboarding and basically all those typical hobbies you can imagine.

Sports has been a way of life for me, not an extra activity among other hobbies. I’ve also learned to be naturally competitive, due to the fact I have competed in several sports like track and field and cross country skiing. However, I have always had mixed feelings towards competing with others, as I loved to win and challenge myself but on the other there was sometimes too much pressure to handle. I usually preferred team sports, as there I would feel I am part of something bigger and I can share the joy of physical activity with others.

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Training at the gym stepped in when I was 15 years old. Back then it was more or less serious, mainly training at school’s physical education classes. Ever since I started high school (at the age of 16) I joined in a new fitness center and got my first ”real” training program made by a personal trainer. I didn’t really have any specific goals, just wanted to stay strong and healthy. Thus, the training plan was pretty basic, simple movements for the whole body. Anyhow, I can still remember I had some kind of ”obsession” with training my abs (I blame the social media and the illusion of the ”perfect” body). Back then I could do more than 1000 abs during one workout! Craaaazy.

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Even though 16-year-old me didn’t really have a clue what would be the ideal way of working out, I somehow managed to build muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. At the same time when I joined into the gym, my mom and I started attending the group fitness classes. Our favorite class was definitely BodyCombat. This was my first touch of the amazing group fitness world. The BodyCombat class became our weekly tradition and even when my mom quit her gym membership, I continued going there on my own. Summarized: My workout plan consisted of 4-5 gym workouts and 1-2 BodyCombat classes in a week. Kinda ideal I would say. I also used to dance back then, so I had couple of dance lessons in a week too.

I followed this kind of training program for a couple of years and was kinda pleased with it. Then something happened.

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A little background information before we go deeper. The next thing I will share with you is really sad and straight-forward. I have never ever been satisfied with myself, neither the inside, nor the outside. I can still remember the days at the primary school when I would look at myself in the mirror and think I am fat, ugly and I should kill myself. Just think about it. A little 9-year-old little girl having that kind of depressive thoughts. Of course I didn’t tell anyone about it. I was just too afraid to admit I had some serious problems with my self-esteem. Maybe it was partly because of my young age and the fact that I didn’t realize that kind of behavior wasn’t normal. In my opinion I was also way too shy, quiet, nerdy and stupid (even though my grade point average was always above 9.5).

At the age of 18 I decided I will never want to hate myself again. NEVER. AGAIN. Maybe it was about the pressure of becoming an ”adult” or some kind of identity crisis before the twenties. I wanted to change my whole life. Now that I was an ”adult”, I could do ANYTHING. It started bit by bit with changing my routines, training plan, thinking and eventually my whole behavior. My goal was to finally be happy with myself, inside out. It wasn’t completely about ”looking good” or loosing weight. No. It was more than that. I wanted to truly find the person who was hiding inside me.

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There were many factors that affected my behavior. My relationship (back then we had been two years together with my boyfriend), friends, hobbies, work, school and the fact I was interested in modelling and beauty pageant competitions. I also had my matriculation examination in the last year of the upper secondary school, which made me really push myself to the next level. All these factors in my mind I created a new way of life, which I thought, would support my dreams.

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So I started to live my so called dream. I had my new perfect routines that were ”super healthy” and a way of thinking that made me push myself everyday harder and harder. I was living in my own perfect bubble. I did feel good though. The Les Mills group fitness classes became basically my religion and I started to crave more and more cardio. It felt so amazing.

At the same time I didn’t notice that other people started worrying about me. They saw that I had lost a lot of weight and was really pushing myself and striving for perfection. I didn’t see the difference. I thought I’m just like most of my friends and family – fit, sporty and healthy. I was so deep in my own bubble that if somebody would mention that they were a little worried about me or ask me if I’m okay, I would either deny everything or get extremely mad. I didn’t understand why others couldn’t see my perfect and healthy way of life.

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The perfect and healthy way of life didn’t last for a long time. Soon my dreams became my obsessions. My routines became my enemies. Even though there would be a smiling girl in the picture, the truth would be a suffering girl inside. I knew if I wanted to keep going like that, I would need to push myself even harder to actually achieve the lifestyle I was dreaming about.

Still, I didn’t realize how everyone else saw me. Thinking back, I feel so tremendously sorry for my friends, who tried to help me back then and pull me back to the reality. Not even mentioning the dearest and loveliest person in my life, my boyfriend, who tried his best to help me and basically keep me alive. I have to say, without him, I don’t even know if I would be here anymore.

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No matter how hard everyone was trying to convince me to seek for help and go to a therapist, I refused and continued to ”live my dream”. I would be a liar I would say I didn’t notice any differences in my health. In the beginning things were perfectly fine, but at the age of 19 I started to have arrhythmia and other heart related complications. I could also notice my hair get thinner and nails get weaker. But in my outer looks I still didn’t see any difference. In the picture above I even thought I was a little CHUBBY. Well, well…

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I didn’t really check my weight that often, because I knew I would still not be satisfied. No matter what the scale would say. At some point I had this rule that the number of my weight had to start with a number 4. But whenever I would weigh for example 48 kg, I would still feel fat.

From what I know my lowest weight has been 41 kg. As I am 167 centimeters tall, it means that my Body Mass Index was 14,7 and valetudinarian according to a BMI calculator. However, these numbers didn’t mean anything to me, as I saw myself in the mirror as the chubby girl.

I had never really been thinking about others’ opinions about me or paying attention to negative comments, but during my hardest years, every single negative comment would make me torture myself even more and feel very insecure about myself. I couldn’t get over the mean looks and comments that would pass by me at school. I was secretly crying in the bathroom and thinking what is wrong with me.

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Even though sports was one factor that made me obsessed about my looks and my healthy lifestyle, on the other hand it was my savior. However, I claim, I didn’t make any conscious choices of becoming healthier or changing my routines, but bit by bit I started to allow myself things. I began to feel sorry for my boyfriend for doing my weird routines and being so obsessed about working out. I wanted to make sure that no one around me was worrying about me and feeling bad about me or my health. Again, I had an extremely bad conscience about being captured in the bubble, as I know I made all the closest people around me so unhappy and concerned about my behavior.

One of my biggest dreams had been becoming a group fitness instructor. Ever since I attended in the first group fitness class (somewhere in the secondary school) I decided, that one day I want to be that person, who is instructing. I participated in my first group fitness education course in 2013 and after that I was instructing some classes more or less frequently. Getting the chance to start instructing my own ”real” group fitness classes in the first gym was a total dream come true. At the same time I started to wonder, how will my own group fitness instructor identity be like? Could I to be the role model for somebody? What does it require from me?

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So, becoming a group fitness instructor was a guiding light for the balanced lifestyle. I realized, if I want to make other people around me feel good about themselves, I have to make sure I also feel good about myself. Inside out. Thus, I started to get more confidence by not paying attention to negative atmosphere around me and by contrast, spreading positive vibes around me. What you give is what you get.

How ironic it sounds, becoming a fitness competitor was also one of the most important saviors for me. I know that the ”fitness boom” evokes various opinions, both negative and positive. The whole fitness trend is referred as a ”permissible eating disorder”. But I also know, that in my case it meant regular eating, training, sleeping and taking good care of myself. Thanks to the bikini fitness experience, I finally learned for the first time in my life to eat properly and regularly. It wasn’t easy, but I really pushed myself again to learn a new way of life.

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While the bikini fitness journey was an exciting and instructive experience, I still messed it up. Even though the competition wasn’t a long time ago (in the beginning of October), I think I have grown a lot from that. I tried my best to make things work, but I still didn’t  manage to do everything right. I had too many irons in the fire.

From the beginning of the year I tried to balance with all the school stuff, AKA doing my teaching practice, master courses and master’s thesis, working in four different jobs (related to group fitness instructing and promoting), going to two different Les Mills basic education courses, travelling, meeting with my coach and trying to make sure I train, eat and recover perfectly. Well, the latter one didn’t quite pull off, as you can perhaps imagine. I was so exhausted all the time that I didn’t even recognize my tiredness anymore. Again, no matter my coach, friends or boyfriend would say, I just kept pushing and thought everything will work out.

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Well, as it turned out, it didn’t. Few hours after of the competition, I actually realized how hard and challenging the whole bikini fitness journey had been. I felt devastated. I just cried the whole day and couldn’t get over the thought I had totally humiliated myself and messed up everything. I had messed up my whole life. Everything. Such a loser.

I felt pretty depressed a couple of day after the competition and didn’t feel like talking about it ever again. I felt super shitty if somebody asked me: ” How did it go?” or ”Did you win?”. Nope, I did not. I didn’t feel myself at all, even working out didn’t feel nice. But again, sports was eventually my savior. My dear group fitness classes pulled me back to the reality and made me feel like myself again. I really made my love my job even more, when I actually realized how much the fitness classes and people there mean to me.

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Thinking back, the whole journey has been a wonderful teaching experience. I learned whole new sides of me, both physical and mental. Everybody does mistakes. And if you never do any mistakes, you never learn. Close to the competition I posted a picture on Instagram, which said:

” The past is your lesson. The present is your gift. The future is your motivation.” This will be the beginning of my new way of life.

No regrets, as they say.

Think pink, 💖: Siiri

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