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Stronger Than Yesterday

I begin my day in the gym. I wake up around 5 AM every morning, I meditate, and then head to the gym. This has become my anchor: it allows for “me time” before the demands of work and life are even awake.

A lot of people assume I have been working out and eating healthy most of my life. But while these things feel like core parts of me, they haven’t always been priorities.

Unhealthy habits

When I woke up on New Year’s Day in 2017, I looked in the mirror and saw a lot of things I didn’t like.

I was less than a year into living with HIV and, while I wasn’t hiding anymore, I found the weight of internalized stigma to be incredibly heavy, one I didn’t feel strong enough to carry. So, I turned to unhealthy habits of drinking heavily and fast food to cope.

Making fitness my goal

I was incredibly unhappy. My life had been turned upside-down in every imaginable way, and I found myself faced with the truth that I didn’t like the person I was looking at in the reflection of the mirror. I took the opportunity of a new year to take my frustrations and anger out by getting moving.

Initially, I found myself motivated by the outside world, be it celebrities or wanting to impress others. But as the years have gone on, working out has become my refuge from the storms of life when they become difficult to navigate.

Previous attempts at getting fit and healthy

2017 wasn’t my first time attempting to dabble in fitness. Over the years, I thought it was something I was supposed to do. But, I always gave up when the results weren’t quick enough and because my motivation wasn’t rooted in anything substantial.

There were the gym memberships I got because that is what I thought I needed to do to fit in with a certain group of “cool kids.” There were the trainers I hired to get in shape for trips to Las Vegas and Mexico. The fad diets and DVDs I only gave half-hearted efforts towards. I’m not alone in having multiple attempts at healthier choices - statistically, 90 percent of people quit the gym after 3 months.

Tired of my excuses

In 2017, I had finally reached a point that I was angry enough and tired of my own excuses. I began in a small apartment gym where half of the equipment was broken, but it was somewhere to start.

How to get started?

The truth about fitness and nutrition is it can be incredibly overwhelming - there are so many opinions and trends that it can be hard to figure out what is the right path to take.

A physical activity that you enjoy

If you are looking to get started, talk with your doctor first before starting anything. Then start small: take a walk, lift some light weights. But the best piece of advice I can give you is to find a way to move that you enjoy because that is something you will stick with.

Using my lowest point as motivation

I now use what felt like my lowest point as a motivator. I never want to feel that weak or broken ever again. In fact, every time I feel unmotivated now I think about the moment I was diagnosed or any of the tough times I went through in 2016.

I know that if I survived that, there nothing that I can’t do. Just like lifting weights: the more that I pick up that heaviness that was that point in my life, the more that muscle grows.

There is so much talk about, surviving with HIV. I refuse to just survive; I want to thrive. Not in spite of living with HIV, but because it truly made me stronger than I was yesterday.

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