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Ambitious Kitchen Wellness Series Episode 3: My Fitness Journey & Relationship with Exercise

Ambitious Kitchen Wellness Series Episode 3: My Fitness Journey & Relationship with Exercise. Check out this wellness video and read about my journey!

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Hi guys, it’s me. Obviously.

Anyway, coming to you today with episode three of the wellness series in partnership with Under Armour Women.


How I got into fitness & exercise

For me, I only started working out during college. I had never really played competitive sports during high school, nor felt the need to go to the gym, as I was more of the creative type. However one day got curious about the gym a few of my friends went to, so I made a plan and joined without hesitation. Granted, it wasn’t just my curiosity that motivated me to join, it was also the will to lose weight.

Back then I was motivated for different reasons; however I’m still proud of myself for joining as it’s turned out to be one of the best things I could have ever done. After officially nearly 8 years of working out non stop since joining that that gym in 2009, I can proudly say that having exercise in my life has changed it for the better.

monique on a path in a park

How my routine has changed over the years:

It’s crazy how much my fitness routine has changed over the past few years, but admittedly I have to confess that exercise has almost always been something I loved ever since joining the gym back in 2009. Often I don’t think of exercise as something I HAVE to do, but only that I want to do it because I LOVE it. It’s simply a part of my everyday lifestyle: Moving my body, appreciating my ability to perform, finding confidence through mental strength, living through trauma, expressing emotions and above all figuring out what works best for me throughout the different stages of my life.

And I know some of you feel the same way. HOWEVER I also understand that exercise for some people will never be intuitive or something they look forward to, but sometimes I think that’s because we’re taught to workout for one reason and one reason only: to lose weight, which is where most people can find themselves feeling easily defeated. Some many even see it as a punishment.

I’ve felt that way too…

But when I stopped thinking about workouts as something I HAD to to and something I wanted to do, my perspective changed. I noticed that even after rolling out of bed at 6am and making it to a class, the feeling afterwards was unbeatable. It no longer became about weight loss or punishment. Instead, I craved the positive, energetic emotions flooding through my body as I worked through squats or rode my bike as fast as I could during the summer nights. I felt my heart release it’s grief as I powered through chaturanga and downward dogs.

Over the years, my motivations for exercise grew to be much more they were when I first walked into the gym during college.

monique walking in the street

So I suppose in a way I have taught myself how to love exercise. I need it in my life because it’s the best therapy out there; a therapy taking place in my own mind that better than any antidepressant or anxiety medication I could be on (just me personally). It improves who I am. It makes me want to be a better person. And most of all, it challenges me BOTH mentally and physically.

My workout routine has changed over the years from yoga to cycling to running to lifting. And guess what? I don’t have to LOVE running all the time or getting my ass kicked at my favorite Crosstown Chicago gym 24/7. What motivates me is doing what I LOVE in the moment and realizing that taking care of myself is important, which sometimes includes simply going for a walk.

Look, you’re never going to feel motivated if you look at exercise as something you absolutely have to do. That’s why it’s so important to find what you love! And celebrate that. It’s okay to be a runner. It’s okay to love Crossfit. It’s okay to be a yogi. YOU DO YOU!

My advice: There is no right or wrong way of exercising. Start doing what feels good to you over what you “should” do. We’re all going to have setbacks in life — tragedies, injuries, and reasons to quit or stop; there’s always going to be an excuse if we look for it.

For me, exercise is all about self love. It’s saying to yourself: I love you; I appreciate what you do for me; I want to challenge you; I want to change you.

Here are reasons to exercise (other than weight loss!):

1.) Confidence in yourself and your abilities outside of the gym

2.) More energy

3.) A sense of appreciation

4.) Feel good endorphins

5.) Creativity improvement

6.) Decreased anxiety & depression

7.) Overall health improvement

8.) Mental strength

9.) It teaches you how to set goals

10.) You learn how to impress yourself

monique walking down steps

Anyway, I hope you loved this episode, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

So tell me, what motivates you? 

How have your fitness and exercise habits changed?

What’s your fitness routine like? Do you love to workout or is it challenging for you to find motivation?

I’m all ears and love hearing from you all! Hope you have a wonderful day. xoxo.

This post is in partnership with Under Armour Women, a partnership I adore. Thanks for supporting AK.

Photography by: Jules Kennedy

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