Edgar Spartan 2021

How Fitness Transformed My Life

Hey all! If we haven’t met yet, here’s a little about me. I’ve always been the active type, with sports being my second nature since childhood. Remember those kickball games in Elementary school? I was that kid – on the team from 3rd to 5th grade, with just two other classmates sticking around for the entire three-year stint.

Oh, and baseball! My love for the game started in 1st grade when my school handed out tickets to a San Francisco Giants game at Candlestick Park. Sadly, my family couldn’t make it because we were one ticket short for all of us. So, my first taste of a baseball stadium came later in 2000, during a 5th-grade field trip to Pacific Bell Park (now Oracle Park). The stunning architecture and the electric vibe of the field had me head over heels. I remember gazing around, dreaming of becoming a baseball player myself.

Despite being shy, I finally took a leap and tried out for my high school’s junior varsity (JV) baseball team in my Sophomore year. My time on the field was limited due to my lack of experience with organized baseball, but boy, did I cherish every moment! Especially when we clinched the 2005 championship against our city rivals Lowell High School. My varsity team stint in my Senior year was equally cherished, even though I didn’t get to play much.

Now, you must be wondering, “What does all this have to do with fitness?” Well, my love for sports and an innate drive to excel (despite not being the strongest or fastest) eventually led me to embark on a fitness journey. This new chapter began during my Freshman year at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) when I signed up at a local gym. And that is where my transformation began.

I hope my story inspires you to kickstart your own fitness journey. Looking back, I can see how it has profoundly changed my life over the past 15 years since stepping into a gym. I may not be an expert on every muscle or workout, but I can confidently say that fitness has made me healthier, happier, and more fulfilled. So, buckle up as I take you along for a ride on my journey!

What Sparked My Interest in Fitness

Growing up, I was always one of the skinnier kids, and I often found myself wishing for a more athletic build. As a child, I was a big fan of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and admired the strength and agility of the wrestlers, especially Sting.

After high school, I felt the need for personal change. I decided to focus on building muscle, not only to improve my physical appearance but also to increase my self-confidence. I took my first gym membership with little knowledge about weight training or fitness routines. However, I was determined and sought help from online resources and friends, and I even enrolled in a beginners’ weight training course at CCSF.

Initially, like many beginners, I wanted quick results. But as I spent more time in the gym, I realized that fitness is a journey that requires patience. It’s not about reaching your goal as fast as possible but about enjoying the process and appreciating the progress you make along the way. There have been challenges and setbacks, but overall, my fitness journey has been a rewarding experience that I wouldn’t exchange for anything.

How Fitness Helped Me Overcome Challenges and Setbacks

Edgar at Byodo-In-Temple in Kaneohe, Hawaii
Visting Byodo-In-Temple in Kaneohe, Hawaii, in 2021

Fitness has been my lifeline in more ways than one. It’s not just about the strength I’ve gained or the muscles I’ve built. Moreover, it has significantly influenced my life and guided me through challenging situations.

Let me take you back to my college days. I was juggling school, work, and my newfound love for the gym. Each day, right after class and before my shift as an after-school teacher, I’d rush to the gym for a quick workout. It was a tight squeeze, but this routine taught me the importance of planning and time management – skills that have served me well over the years.

Now, let’s talk about goals. I set and chased them, and sometimes I fell short. But each stumble taught me something invaluable about failure – it’s not a dead-end but a stepping stone toward success. This journey of self-discovery and reflection has enriched me both personally and professionally.

There were times when my buddies bailed on the gym, and I was tempted to do the same. Sure, I gave in a few times, but when I managed to stick to my routine despite their absence, the feeling was nothing short of amazing! That’s when I realized the power of self-motivation.

When I started dating in my third year, I noticed a shift. My body was toning up, and my confidence shot through the roof. This newfound confidence led me to ask out my then-girlfriend, a move that required courage and a leap of faith. However, I noticed my fitness levels dipping as I got comfortable in my relationship. It’s like I thought I had “arrived” and could now rest easy. Man, was I wrong!

My muscles began to fade, and this was when I learned about the concept of “set point weight.” Simply put, it’s the weight your body naturally settles at, given your genetics, lifestyle habits, and environment. Despite the setbacks, my body was always ready to bounce back, and I realized the importance of consistency in maintaining fitness.

Understanding the Benefits of Exercise and Nutrition

Remember when I mentioned my time at CCSF and how transformative it was? Well, that’s where I got to really dive into the world of health science. I enrolled in Health 53 – Health Science, and boy, did it open my eyes! But it wasn’t just about understanding the human body and its functions. I also took an Introduction to Nutrition course, and it turned my world upside down – in a good way, of course!

Suddenly, I was seeing food in a whole new light. It wasn’t just about eating to satisfy hunger anymore but understanding the quality of what I was putting into my body and how it contributed to my overall health and well-being. Those lessons have stuck with me, and I often find myself recalling those insightful classroom sessions.

Fast forward to today, and my approach to exercise and nutrition has undergone a complete makeover. The journey of learning never stops, and I’m always eager to discover and implement new strategies for a healthier lifestyle.

I promise to share more about this in my upcoming blog posts, but for now, let me tell you the benefits of exercise with proper nutrition are truly life-changing. The knowledge I gained in those classrooms at CCSF didn’t just stay there; I put it into practice, and the results have been nothing short of amazing!

Developing a Routine That Works for You

One thing I’ve realized over the years is that it’s perfectly alright if things don’t always go according to plan. Missed a workout? No big deal. Didn’t hit a new personal best at the gym? That’s fine too. Faced a setback? It happens. Remember what I told you earlier – it’s not about the stumble, but what we learn from it and how we use those lessons moving forward.

Back in my college days, I had set up a gym schedule for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Fridays were my “I might just skip the gym today” days, so I compensated by giving it my all on Mondays and Wednesdays. Fast forward to now, and I still stick to the same routine. The only difference is that instead of heading out to a gym, I walk into my own home gym, which I put together during the COVID-19 lockdown. (Stay tuned for a future blog post on that!)

The key takeaway here is the power of routine. Once you find your rhythm and get into a routine, it stops feeling like a task and more like second nature. But remember, we’re all unique, and what works for me may not work for you. It might take some time – days, weeks, months, or even years – to figure out a routine that fits you. But trust me, once you find it, you’ll know, and it will be a game-changer!

Incorporating Fun Activities and Variety into Your Workouts

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – workout boredom. We all experience it from time to time, and that’s perfectly normal. The key is not to let it discourage you or make you want to give up altogether.

One of the best ways I’ve found to stay motivated and keep things interesting is by incorporating different activities into my workouts. It could be yoga with my wife, a hike with friends, or even just switching up my usual routine with different exercises, such as going for a run (I’ve run a few half marathons and full marathons), or challenging myself by completing a Spartan race (photo on the left is after I completed my first Spartan in Sacramento in 2021).

I’ve also found that having a workout partner can do wonders for your motivation levels. Not only does it make exercising more enjoyable, but there’s also an added level of accountability when someone else is relying on you to show up and give your best effort.

How to Maintain Motivation and Stay on Track

Staying motivated and on track, even without someone holding you accountable, can often be challenging. From my experience, the most potent form of motivation is the desire to not revert to my old self before my fitness journey.

My pursuit of health and well-being is not driven by superficial aesthetics but by my aspiration for overall health. Sure, looking good is a byproduct of this journey, but it’s not the driving force.

I keep myself on track by maintaining a fitness journal and tracking my progress and the changes I am experiencing. I also use digital tools like FitNotes (iOS – free FTW!!!), which help me monitor my fitness journey.

Seeing the progress charted out in a tangible form is highly motivating and serves as a constant reminder of how far I have come and why I must keep pushing forward.

Final Thoughts

Watching the sunset at Hawaiian Electric Beach Park at Kapolei, Hawaii, in 2023

I hope that my fitness journey, as I’ve shared in this blog, has provided useful insights and, perhaps, even sparked some inspiration. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m thrilled to continue sharing my experiences because I genuinely believe in the transformative power of fitness. It’s been a game-changer for me, and I have no doubt it can be for you, too, with the right amount of dedication and effort.

While I could talk about fitness for days, I’ll wrap it up now. If there’s one advice I want you to take away from this blog, it’s this – don’t wait for tomorrow or later today. Seize the moment now! It’s time to get up, lace up those trainers, and get moving.

Remember, every step you take is a step towards a healthier, happier you. So, let’s do this!

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