Fitness journey to breaking stereotypes

Come on guys, it’s 2020. Why do we still dictate to women what their bodies should look like?

I remember people bashing Andi Eigenmann, who’s very physically active, for allegedly editing her photo. They said that she photo-shopped her waist to look small but her arm was thick. Andi just shrugged/laughed it off while her sisters came to her defense, saying “I didn’t realize strong arms matched with a toned waist and a firm butt was considered fake na pala.”

I brought this story up because it happened to me and I, too, got unsolicited “advices” and comments because of my “big arm” and “small waist” that “don’t look right”.

Back in 2017, I didn’t have a proper diet or solid workout routine yet. My skeletal muscle mass (SMM) was way under. I was only around 90 lbs. The assessment also showed I didn’t eat enough to be healthy.

Back in 2017, someone went out of their way to tell me I look like a caricature since my body was thin, it made my head look big. Another person told me that I should gain weight to look like a specific person. “Dapat ganun ka. Yung toned. Hindi dapat payat lang.”

I would have to admit that those comments initiated my fitness journey but it was really thanks to my boyfriend who introduced a bunch of fitness activities I could try until we found what we both really enjoyed and can stick to.

Fast forward to 2019-2020. I’ve finally reached 100 lbs. My SMM is normal. My body fat percentage decreased. I’ve improved my eating habits, eating more proper portions. I feel better and I’d like to think I look better. I’ve come a long way, physically and mentally, and am still a work in progress. Despite the progress, people told me I “look fat” because of the muscle I gained and that “hindi bagay” sakin yung strong arms look when everything else was fit/slim. That they don’t want to do what I do because they might get “big” also.

Firstly, I couldn’t accurately predict how my body was going to look like after years of yoga and teacher training. What I did know was ashtanga requires a lot of upper body strength and discipline so that accounts for the biceps/triceps growth. I was also taught that in yoga, the physical changes are just side effects of the main goal: to meditate, self-reflect. Fitness enthusiasts would know that working out comes with a PERSONAL BATTLE of pushing yourself every. damn. time. To workout again, to never stop, to not be distracted and lazy. To become accountable for yourself. To love yourself. When all that mental strength is your priority, the physical changes truly become just the side effect.

Secondly, each body is unique. Each body will change differently. You cannot make someone’s body your goal because you are not that person. Focus on yourself.

Through the years, society is still pretty consistent. No matter what you do, may masasabi yung mga tao.

My dear friend, Nelle, runs the fitness blog FLAG MNL. I’m ending this post with her inspiring message:

“People who say bad things about our looks are just projecting, lalo na pag malaking pagbabago nakikita nila. Magrereact talaga yan and makikita mo personality nila by how they react to your wins. Keep flexin!”

Thanks for your words Nelle. We got it. We’ll keep going. 💪🏼

Thank you to Sam, my sister, and Stephen, my boyfriend, who kept reassuring me and asking me to flex haha and who are also inspiring in their own fitness journeys.

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