For years throughout my adolescence, I lead an extremely sedentary lifestyle, choosing days spent indoors and munching on Cheetos. Consequently – though I hadn’t put it together that my lazy behavior was the source – I felt sluggish, unmotivated, and generally lethargic. I was unhealthy. It didn’t occur to me that this was much of a problem, because most of my peers conducted themselves similarly.
I became very self-conscious and unhappy with my body, and embarrassed that a flight of stairs left me breathless. I frequently felt nauseous from all the greasy food I consumed. I lacked energy, nearly always wishing I could be asleep or at least in bed. But somehow, I still didn’t think to alter my behavior.
When I went off to college, the new atmosphere sparked a chain reaction of change. I encountered a myriad of people with new interests and passions. I saw people my age jogging outdoors and having fun at my university’s recreation and wellness center. I watched as groups fled to the salad bar instead of the Taco Bell in our campus food court. And instead of hating their bodies, I met plenty of people who had learned to feel comfortable in their skin. Amazingly, these people achieved it by learning the value of nourishing and caring for their bodies. I wanted to be like them.
And so, I did. I started by nagging my roommate into going to the gym with me three times a week. We pledged to quit eating fast food and sugary sweets. We started out small, only lightly exercising, but with bigger goals in mind. At first it was miserable because I was so out of shape and so used to indulging myself in whatever snacks I desired… but the resulting feeling of pride after I had really learned what self-control meant made it all worth it.
After a few months, I found my niche in yoga. I had talked to some girls in my classes that regularly did yoga, and I followed several on social media who would post pictures of their progress, so I decided to give it a try. I felt silly watching YouTube videos alone in my room, poorly imitating the people on the screen, but it still felt rewarding and fun. I learned that it wasn’t about how much I could bend or contort myself; it was about finding that peaceful place within myself and moving my body in ways that stretched it and felt good. Something about yoga allows me to steal away to a more tranquil place where my mind is calmer and my body is strong and capable.
I will always be grateful that I discovered the power of yoga, and exercise in general. These days I’m buzzing with energy and feel confident about the food I put into my body. I am happier and love myself the way I am, and I’ve learned invaluable things on this journey. I hope anyone who is stuck in the slow, stagnant days like I was finds the gift of fitness and health – because truly, nothing is more empowering.