Afterthoughts: Shaping Up

Yeah, I’m into fitness. Fitness whole pizza in my mouth.
Shaping Up
Illustration: Christine Labrador


For the first time in my life, I signed up for a gym. It wasn’t a perk included with my college fees, it wasn’t a free one-week pass. It’s a recurring monthly charge to my credit card with no foreseeable end date.


For me, that’s a pretty big deal. As much as I’ve always known that my health is worth prioritizing, I’ve never really made a point to exercise regularly. My body type has been average most of my life (we’re not gonna mention the preteen years), which I equated to healthy. And even though I sometimes eat a whole pizza in one sitting, I stay fairly thin. But as much as I love hiking Wa‘ahila Ridge, kayaking around Kuapā Pond or boogie boarding at Sherwoods, I can’t do those things very often because I have a hard time keeping up with my friends. Sometimes I can’t even walk up a flight of stairs without losing my breath or carry a platter of fruit without my arms aching the next day. Something had to change.


One day, on a coffee date with a friend, I ranted about wanting to become a better, more well-rounded, balanced person, but I was full of excuses—and they all boiled down to me not wanting to change my lifestyle. My friend told me we should join a fitness center together. I thought, OK, yeah, one day—and moved on. But a few months later, she actually signed up. I couldn’t abandon her, so I got a one-week pass to a gym close to the office to see if I could fit it into my schedule. I figured, if everyone around me makes time for exercise, whether it’s Zumba in the conference room on Friday afternoons or a daily morning walk around the neighborhood, I can too. I have the same number of hours in a day as Beyoncé. So the excuses stopped.


I made it through that week, and I felt great. Sure, my muscles hurt, I was exhausted and I still wasn’t sure I was doing squats properly, but knowing that I was making a positive change was invigorating, so I signed up for more.


Yes, I feel healthier, but that’s not even the best part. Other things have fallen into place unexpectedly. Since it takes me a few minutes to get my gym bag ready, I’ve started packing it the night before, along with all my other stuff, and now I actually catch the bus to work on time. I started prepping my lunch, too—sometimes going as far as cooking or making a sandwich instead of forking over 10 bucks a day for takeout. That cash is for either membership fees or tacos, not both.


I won’t pretend it’s all amazing. It’s difficult to carry my duffel bag, yoga mat, lunch bag and purse on the bus without smacking anyone. Coming in to work later or leaving earlier to squeeze in a workout means eating lunch at my desk a lot more often to make up for it, and I miss the sky and the opportunity to read outside. I have more energy throughout the day, but that makes it really hard for me to put myself to bed at night. That, plus recovering muscles, makes it almost impossible for me to wake up when my alarm goes off.


But if that’s what it takes for me to continue eating burgers and chocolate cake, be able to go hiking without passing out or help prevent heart disease, so be it. Maybe I’ll get some sweet abs in the process.