How do you find your love for fitness? – This is how I did it – and you can too!
This is my journey from weak to strong – from flat to fit.
Due to scoliosis and hip dysplasia, I have struggled with back and hip pain my entire childhood and early adulthood. Fortunately, my parents made sure I would go to different sports classes nearly every day of the week. Ballett, swimming, volleyball, pilates – I did them all.
Still, I was never as fast, as agile, as flexible or strong as the other girls. I would give it my all, I was not lacking motivation. I was at a constant struggle with my own body that just didn’t want to do what my mind was asking it for.
Today, I would like to share my fitness journey with you, how I fight scoliosis on a daily basis and found my love for fitness. These are the strategies I used and I am sure they will benefit you as well. If you have been waiting for a sign to get started on your own journey – start today! You will only regret not having started earlier … .
The recipe to find your love for fitness
1. Why do I want to be fit?
Before we get started, we need to define a goal. Why do you want to be fit? Do you want to lose weight or fat, build muscle and get stronger, prevent arthritis and osteoporosis? Sure, working out can be fun too but most of the time, tearing muscle fibers hurts. So, you need to have a clear goal in mind that makes it worth the tears and sweat.
For me, it was to be able to do all those movements all the other girls had no problem with. I wanted to be flexible, bend over without back pain or spasm in my lower back, lift heavy weights despite my crooked body.
Most important of all, I wanted to be pain-free. I was 18 when I started strength training and by that time I was so used to the constant back pain that I kept searching for it for years after. It takes a while for our brain to recognize that the painful stimulus is not there anymore… .
Take out a piece of paper and write down your goal. Make it something that you will not be able to accomplish in a few weeks or months. Your goal needs to be something that motivates you to keep pushing hard every workout you do.
An example could be: “Squat my own Bodyweight”. Or “Learn to do a pistol squat”.
2. How can I achieve my goal?
Now that we now what we want to achieve, we need to have a plan.
My goal was to eliminate my back pain. So, I researched on the internet for exercises for scoliosis. I found a website of a physiotherapist nearby where I live specializing in scoliosis. She explained to me I needed to strengthen my Upper Back, especially the rhomboids. I had not started medical school yet, so that day when I came home, I read all about our back’s anatomy. I searched for the best exercises for rhomboids and started doing those exercises.
If your goal is to get strong and fit, search for a workout plan for your entire body. If you would like to be able to do a handstand, search for tutorials on how to progress. You need to take action and find your own way to reach your goals. Only this way you will be constantly motivated. It might sound easier if someone else shows you the path to fitness but it is not nearly as rewarding once you have reached your goal!
3. Self-education is key
Shortly after the talk with my physiotherapist, I started med school. I was highly motivated to learn all about human anatomy and was one of the best in our class. For me, learning how our body works was not just important to pass a test but it became a part of my fitness journey. In addition to that, I researched sports medicine papers every day and read a lot not only about scoliosis, but also about arthritis and osteoporosis, to help my relatives too.
Self-education is one of the most important factors of your fitness journey. Knowing why you need to eat certain foods or do specific exercises will help you reach your goals faster. You will be able to establish a strong mind-muscle connection with your muscles and be more motivated to cook healthy. Even if it is your doctor telling you to take certain medications or eat certain foods – you need to be critical because this is your body. You are in charge and should take responsibility for your health.
4. Visualization is motivation
Once I started doing the right exercises for my body, my pain diminished quickly. Day to-day I was getting stronger and loved that feeling. In my first session with my physiotherapist, she showed me my rhomboid muscles in a back mirror. Basically, I had no muscles at all. A few weeks after starting strength training, I demonstrated her some of my exercises and watched myself doing them in the mirror again. This time, I could see the muscles contract and pull my shoulder blades back. This picture is always in my mind, whenever I work out.
Visualize your goals, picture yourself when you have reached your goal. Dream about squatting your own bodyweight and how everybody is cheering you on. Visualization is the first step to actually reaching your goal and will become your strongest motivator in times you don’t feel like working out.
5. I make it vital to work out
Sadly, most people are already sick when they change their lifestyle to live healthier. For them, eating healthy and exercising is vital. I was in pain and strength training helped me to fight scoliosis and still helps me to decrease muscle imbalances. Working out is not just a habit for me – I need it so survive. Otherwise, the pain would come back. The fear of pain is what keeps me going every day.
If you are not in pain and not sick – first of all, lucky you! You can still make working out an important part of your day too. You just need to push even harder to see it as something you need to survive. Once it has become a habit and you automatically schedule it in your day – you have succeeded.
6. My tricks to have fun working out
After 6 years of studying and training, I am happy to claim I don’t have any back pain and my muscle imbalances have decreased significantly. I have found my balance with strength training, clean eating and being happy with my own body too.
To keep working out interesting, I always search for new ways to make it fun. I come up with new exercise combinations, design cruel workout programs and exercise challenges. I love to watch fitness tips videos on YouTube and apply those in my next workout. Also, I read research medical papers daily and try to use that knowledge to become a healthier and stronger version.
In addition to that, my little community, YOU guys, help motivate me a lot. It has only been a bit over a year but I have acquired a couple of friends and we completed 2 workout challenges together (virtually- but that still counts!). Working out together, wherever you are in the world, is a huge motivator for me.
7. Helping others helps me too
I decided to become a doctor because I love helping others. More specifically, I want to prevent people from getting sick and speed up the healing process of those already injured. At first, it was my relatives’ health conditions that further motivated me to read about nutrition and fitness. I searched for the best exercises for rheumatic diseases, best foods for cancer, diabetes and PCOS. Then, I started my blog and started reaching many people from all over the world. The daily emails I get saying my workout or health tips helped them, makes my day. This motivates me to keep reading and acquiring new knowledge every day.
I started as a miserable young 18-year old girl, not being able to bend over without pain, and here I am, writing about the best exercises for knee arthritis, nutrition for healthy weight loss and living a healthy, pain-free lifestyle.
This is my fitness journey so far and I am curious what the future will bring.
Now it is time for you to start your journey. Who knows, maybe you will have a great impact on others as well?
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If you know other tips to get started in your health journey, please share below!