generic opinion

The gym can be best described as difficult to enter and easy to leave. However, the benefits of the resulting strength and self-confidence you work for within the walls of Southwest Recreation Center or Student Recreation & Fitness Center follow you long after you leave.

Dieting works, and if you hold yourself accountable for your meals, you will start to look and feel better. It’s torture to cut out bagels and brownies from your diet, and our current food market doesn’t make it any easier. In summation, fitness is hard. It takes effort, determination and perseverance to succeed, and it will often feel as if all the energy you’re spending is in vain. It isn’t. The goal of fitness is to be healthy and happy, and washboard abs are simply a welcome byproduct.

All too often, we are led astray by the incredible bodies shown on magazine covers or featured on Instagram pages. We buy our groceries, go to the gym and step on the scale with the idea that The Rock will look back at us in the mirror. This is not a sustainable way of viewing fitness, which is already a difficult habit to nurture. Creating a warped body image can severely damage a person’s balance in life.

Another problem with fitness is the advice that comes along with it — it’s given out easily and many times without consideration to everyone’s body types. Most of these diets are not inherently bad for you. In fact, each of them work and achieve different end results. The problem is, we are all unique. Each person is going to respond differently to each kind of diet, and the results will vary. Our tastes and preferences are unique as well, and they also play a large role in determining which diet we follow. Some people prefer a high-carb diet, while others prefer low. For this reason, fitness seems more difficult than it needs to be. Your fit friends will all be stoked to see you’ve decided to join the “Gain Train.” They will supply endless advice and guidance, some of which you may even diligently apply. Despite all this, your diet may still fail.

So many people fall victim to their own insecurities. Far too many allow the small mean voice lurking behind their conscience to deter their progress. This process gains momentum with every failure. Each mistake or cheat day is another block removed from the Jenga tower of fitness. The voice often wins out and the wooden tower crumbles, leaving you staring at the pieces that used to constitute your healthy life. They think, “It can’t work, I tried,” and they give up in a cloud of bitterness.

It is difficult to push through, but the strength of mind you develop in the pursuit of a healthy life is just as important as the strength of your biceps. These are the mental exercises that make fitness truly difficult: the strength to wake up and get to the gym, the strength to order a salad when your friends order a burger and the strength to chew gum at the movies instead of getting a popcorn and soda. Anyone can be fit for a day when working out and eating well. The perseverance and dedication to transform your lifestyle really sets a person apart.

Fitness is hard. If it weren’t, everybody would do it, which is certainly not the case. It is individually based on your time, energy and body. Fitness challenges your self-image and it takes perseverance. You can be successful if you are brutally honest with yourself and are aware of what works for you. If you stay positive and keep a happy, healthy perspective, your end goals will be in sight. You can reach your goals, and you will — you just can't give up.

Kyle Cunningham is a UF English freshman. His column appears on Mondays.