Strap yourselves in, folks. This is gonna be a loooooong story.
#jayneeziefit was a hashtag I started in 2012 when I was first starting out on my fitness journey. My only motivation that year to get fit was to look good at the two weddings I’d be serving as a bridesmaid for. I mean, I wasn’t trying to upstage either bride – I just wanted one of those weddings hookups you watch in movies. I can tell you now that entire motivation was in vain because those weddings were for family members, thus I was not successful.
But while the main reason I got fit in the first place was in vain, the results I got after were not.
Throughout the beginning of 2012, I decided to make that big lifestyle change. I decided to reactivate my long inactive 24 Hour Fitness membership and dragged my ass to the gym for at least an hour a day. I reluctantly turned down my mom’s delicious Filipino food in favor of delicious salads and other dishes I could make with veggies and tuna.
I think what helped me the most was this dude right here, my friend, TJ.
He was my Saturday workout buddy. We’d go to the gym at the buttcrack of dawn to beat the crowds. Sometimes, he’d just go straight to the cardio room and run for the whole hour we were there, and I’d catch up with him after 30 minutes of pretending to know how to lift (No, I didn’t know how to lift then, bro…) Other days, he motivated me to run by simply just running on the treadmill. He doesn’t know it (or maybe he does, who knows?), but I would internally be competitive with him. So if he was going at a speed level of 5 and at an incline of 6, you know my competitive ass would spike to a speed level of 6 and an incline of 7.
Basically, your girl was too lazy (and still is!) to do cardio. It’s, like, my least favorite thing ever! well, that and ab workouts. But really, I tried anything and everything to stay active and fit.
I did a lot of hikes.
I did some modified workout routines in an empty Group X room by myself and with company.
I took up cycling, too, since a friend suggested we take a class together. I really liked the adrenaline cycling brings, so I kept going. Then, I learned my favorite spin instructor also taught Body Pump, a good strength-training program so I took it up too.
Then, I tried Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown workout DVD. It was intense for yoga, but still such a good workout.
I honestly tried any kind of fitness program I could because, let’s face it, your girl hates routine. I hate being stuck in the same kind of workout plan or doing the same kind of exercise. Doing that – changing routine when I thought it was getting stale – plus changing my eating habits really helped me get fit and stay fit.
Within the span of a little over a year, from April 2012 to August 2013, I went from 190lbs to 159lbs. My main goal was to get to 150lbs, but I didn’t reach it in time before I left for Korea.
#jayneeziefit took a break for my first few months in Korea, but I was able to find a nice little gym near my apartment. Because I was a little afraid to interact with Koreans, I basically stuck to going to the Group X room in the gym when it was free. I did take a yoga class and a stretching class while I was there.
The stretching class was led by a handsome dude who I believe lived abroad for a while, so he spoke a little English to me as he walked around the class to guide us. But guys, do not let a handsome face fool you. As this nice, handsome trainer guided me into a complicated stretch that was already painful, he gently pushed me further into it to get more a stretch and I let out an audible, “Ouffff…” much to my dismay.
After a while, another friend in Korea suggested going to a gym in Noksapyeong, which is near the US Army base in Seoul. This gym was owned by a Korean-American woman who was a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. It was a mixed martial arts gym that doubled as a training gym for amateur MMA fighters. There, I took a series of personal training classes with three types of guys – one who was strictly a boxer, one who was strictly trained in BJJ, and one who was mixed martial arts all the way. That gym got me crazy fit because of its rigorous training style. But then I got clumsy one day and tripped down some stairs in a subway station and injured my ankle, thus I couldn’t train anymore.
I started to go to a new gym, which was part of a chain. There were about seven total locations for this one gym in Seoul alone. Basically, it was the 24 Hour Fitness of Seoul…but like, with only 7 locations and only located in Seoul. I started at this gym with a friend who lived near me, and the only reason I decided to go to this gym was that it was the only one in Seoul with a Stairmaster. Oh! I forgot to mention – the first gym I went to…their treadmills did not have the incline. Like, they disabled it. So basically, there was hardly a challenge to it. So, seeing that Stairmaster got me excited because even though I hate cardio, I like the stairs because who doesn’t like a little booty?
This gym offered a series of three 30-minute personal training sessions to kind of sample out the PT services they had. My friend Sarah and I were probably the only foreigners there at the time, so it was hard for them to communicate with us. We went through two male trainers before they hired a female trainer from the US to work with us (and with other Koreans, too, but this story ain’t #otherkoreansfit, it’s #jayneeziefit so I won’t focus on them.)
This trainer was also named Sarah, and I am so thankful I have met her. Because of her, I took the bait and signed up for PT services, but only if she was gonna be my trainer. She whipped my ass in shape, just like the trainers at the BJJ gym I went to. She introduced me to chicken breast balls which, yes, it sounds weird but it changed my diet game for life. Chicken breast balls were all I ate for lunch and dinner, which was kind of controversial in my school lunch room because everyone pretty much was required to eat the school lunch provided. Well, this little foreigner changed it up by bringing her own home lunch of chicken breast balls and steamed veggies.
When Sarah left that gym, you bet your ass I followed her. She worked out of two other gyms before she ultimately moved to Bucheon, which was right outside of Seoul, but too far for me follow. But my time with Sarah was honestly the fittest I’d been in my entire life.
When Sarah left, I also changed jobs and moved farther away from the gyms I used to call home. There was another gym near my new apartment that my co-worker helped me get membership for. So, if you’re doing the Korea Gym Count, this would be Gym #6 I was on. This gym was nice and had a great view of the mountains from the treadmills, but it felt weird not having Sarah.
In 2016, I moved back home to Hawaii and all the work I put in Korea came undone within the first three months. Let me tell you, coming back home to local food and mom’s home cooking just took a toll on my body. I also got into a relationship and gained what I like to call “happy weight” from all the eating with my ex.
They aren’t joking when they say that fitness is a series of ups and downs, highs and lows. I didn’t even know I was undoing my progress.
I am back at it again, though! I have been working with a friend from high school who’s a Beach Body coach. I’ve been going to the gym again, but now I’m focusing on the Beach Body workout programs. I’ve also done a fitness internship with a company I am working with now. Those brought me back into shape, but I’ve relapsed a couple of times.
I haven’t weighed myself recently, but I did take my measurements. Below are my Before photos for my progress. I want to share them with you because I am going to share my fitness journey from this point on with all of you.
I hope that sharing with you my highs and lows in my fitness journey, you’re not discouraged about yours. I know it’s hard not to be discouraged – I often feel that way, too, especially after looking at my photos from Korea.
If you’re reading this and not feeling good about where you’re at in your fitness journey, let me be there by your side. I’ll be updating monthly with my measurements and progress photos (every 27th of the month!) so that you can follow along and we can work together to reach our goals.
#jayneeziefit is always a work in progress. So come back often to check out how it’s going!