Some people seem to be able to jump straight into regular exercise, purely for the fun of it. Personally, maybe because of struggling with long-term mental illness, I often need to find a reason to convince myself to do things. So why am I spending so much time in the gym?
Since 2010, it’s been my goal to get top surgery (chest reconstructive surgery) as part of my transition. I started testosterone injections in February 2013, and between the increased appetite from the change in hormones, side-effects from other medications, and mental health issues, I put on quite a lot of weight.
It wasn’t really until some time in 2014 that I decided I needed to do something about getting into better shape. I realized that if I was going to get the best possible results from top surgery, I needed to lose some weight and at least tone up my muscles a bit.
At first, the only changes I made were going for walks a few times a week and eating less junkfood. I ate more fresh fruits and veggies, and cut down the sugar and fat and simple carbs. I walked around my local area for about an hour at least three times a week, as well as all the walking I end up doing because of relying on public transport. I started trying not to sit for too long without getting up and moving around a bit. Just with these few small changes, I lost about 18kg in a bit under a year and a half.
As often happens, things gradually slowed down, and I realized I would have to do something different if I wanted to keep making progress. I decided it was time to join a gym. Fortunately, I managed to find one where the staff are really positive and friendly and supportive.
I wanted to focus on building up my pecs, because I thought that would give me the best results after top surgery. It didn’t take me long to realise it was important to work on all of my muscles. At first, I can’t say it was exactly fun. I hadn’t been in a gym for at least a few years, and I was quite unfit. A few sessions with a personal trainer helped me get started on the right track and kept me motivated through the initial slog.
After a while, I actually started enjoying training. I got competitive with myself, trying to get better and better at each new exercise I learned. In the last 16 months, I’ve made quite a bit of progress, but still have a lot of work ahead of me. Getting top surgery won’t be the end of my fitness journey. In fact, given how much more comfortable I’ll be with my body, it will likely be the beginning of something bigger and better.