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Fitness: My Saviour

This excerpt is in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week with the theme of Moving More for Our Mental Health

Clonk, clonk, clonk...


As I hike my way up the staircase, my sneakers sing those clonks one syllable after another in near-instantaneous succession –  what I call sounds of fitness that I would not believe could come from these two ol’ feet of mine one semester ago (even if a fortuneteller predicted it). I am making my way to the seventh floor for Statistics 203 class, starting bright and right at 8am. Oh boy, was I different last semester? I was always late, exhausted, and at my wit’s end. I feel so much more in my element now that I’m physically fitter; it’s truly amazing how beneficial exercise is for the mind and soul. I mean, I might as well be on a pack of vintage Virginia Slims now delivering the tagline to myself: “You’ve come a long way, baby”. 


I remember feeling overwhelmed being a fresh university student and trying to come to terms with how impersonal life has become. Like many others, it’s my first time away from home, grappling with the pretense of university being the best time of one’s life. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the nuisance of figuring out what to eat. With all the workload and due dates, I never made time for exercise. Not only was my physical health compromised, but my mental health took a toll too. I did consider going to the gym, but could you really expect an unemployed university student to fork out RM250 every month? I knew I couldn’t live like this for long, but somewhat needed a catalyst to compel a change.


exercising at home

As if the sky is reading my mind, I stumbled across a research article about bodily movements and its impact on overall wellbeing. The research discussed about the increase in ‘feel good’ brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin after one dances, exercises, or walks. I was pretty much sold as soon as I finished reading. Determined to make a change for the better, I devoted time to fitness for the first time in my life. Gym membership out of the equation, I thought I ought to embrace an alternative – which for me turned out to be following beginner exercises from an instructor on a YouTube channel. It wasn’t easy for someone who last exercised a decade ago, but after a few rough attempts my stamina improved and I was soon exercising with my YouTube instructor at least three times a week. I also started implementing little daily exercises like taking the stairs whenever possible, walking from the train station to campus instead of taking the shuttle bus, doing yoga with the same YouTube instructor before bed, and taking workout breaks in between periods of intense studying.


The benefits as prophesized in the article couldn’t have been truer. After being consistent with my exercise routine and periodically upping the difficulty levels of my exercises, I can attest that moving your body does wonders for your mental wellbeing. You do indeed feel more fulfilled, sharper, and ready to take on daily life challenges. The refreshment and catharsis that follows after a workout session is truly unparalleled, and I find my learning enhanced too. The increased walking and stair-taking is not only good cumulative exercises for me, but also help to take things off my mind and ease stress. I’m enjoying fitness so much that I even started to play tennis every Wednesday night with my friends. All I can think of every Wednesday now is how I can’t wait to be done with classes so I can set foot in court. I sometimes find myself being so joyful and chirpy on campus; it’s almost weird – I greet the janitors and security guards and often find myself being more smiley than I usually am. This newfound lifestyle has improved my mental agility and resilience, no doubt! I’m really liking how optimistic I am now, as exercising is the sustainable and my healthy coping mechanism for stress, instead of the more tempting binge-eating and phone-scrolling.  


At last, I have now reached the seventh floor by taking the stairs. No elevator, no shortcut, and made it just in time for Statistics 203 to begin as I enter with a big, wide, grin – “Good morning!”  


 

Khai-Jern is one of the winners of the Creative Writing Competition (May Edition) organized by CPCS

Hi! I am Khai-Jern, first year law student from HELP Damansara. I wish to express my sincerest appreciation to HELP CPCS for the opportunity to participate in their Writing Competition, and my utmost gratitude for the immense honor being bestowed as this May issues' winner. 


3 fun facts about me: 

  • I have three wisdom teeth.  

  • I do not have any ‘favorite’ thing. No favourite song, movie, or color.  

  • I have a sweet tooth. My biggest weakness is chocolate.  


My submission titled ‘Fitness: My Saviour’ is an intimate account of a baby adult who not only is embracing fitness for the first time but is also empowered through it. I wanted to write something that my peers could relate to, so elements like hating PE and using YouTube for fitness embedded in the short narrative were of my personal experience. This first-person narrative at heart is a simple but honest tale, like a short intermezzo, highlighting the profound difference fitness can make, and how consistency is the key to success. I hope my essay brings a smile to you, and may you give yourself the best gift of fitness! 

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