Best Nine (2021)

2021 may be a challenging year, but good things still happened.  Here are nine (9) of the best things running, fitness, and health-related that happened to me in 2021:

9. Condo Gym

I’ve moved in into my condo before the pandemic but never had the urge to use the facilities until the lockdowns started.  It was that time when gyms were allowed to operate at a limited capacity, but I wasn’t that confident yet to go into indoor public spaces.  But I badly needed to stop my muscle mass loss from lack of exercise so my best compromise was to use our condo’s gym where there’s much less people.  Sure, the equipment is limited, but it’s better than nothing.

Looking at this photo at the end of 2021, I can see the loneliness in my eyes here primarily caused by the realization that the strength I built through the years was gone.

Nonetheless, it was the first step towards my recovery later in the year.  It may have only lasted a short time, but it paved the way to help me reach acceptance stage and move forward.

8. Shopping

It really felt good when I stepped into a fitting room for the first time since the pandemic started.  Finally, I can see in person the things I wanted to buy and try them on.  The entire experience of shopping physically in-store is something that I think online shopping can never replace.  And not having to wait to get your things after payment is another plus.  I think I just grew tired of not getting the satisfaction I wanted out of the things I got online—they’re not bad but quality is often hit or miss.

I obviously needed new clothes based on what I’m wearing here!

7. Gadget Review

Having an invitation to do a product review after a long time of hiatus was really flattering.  It’s a feeling of validation that you did well in the past that people still trust you.  And more than just getting a new gadget to play around with, it actually motivated me to run again and even complete a virtual run.  It also got my mind working again to make a fair review.  It doesn’t come often this past few years and I didn’t expect it to happen in the middle of the pandemic.

I had to wear two devices on my wrist during my review so it must have looked odd for other people who saw me.

6. Swimming

Wearing face masks practically everyday is exhausting.  When swimming pools were finally allowed to be opened, I was quite happy that finally, there’s something I can do without wearing a mask, where I can breathe freely!

Lucky to have a pool accessible to me practically anytime I wanted to swim.

As a side effect, I also relearned to tolerate cool water and got an additional exercise option aside from lifting or running.

5. Ease of Movement

One of the biggest changers of the year is the lifting of restrictions to travel and allowing more public transportation to operate.  As someone who doesn’t drive (by choice), it’s a great help that public transport is back, albeit the routes have drastically changed in some areas.  Some places that used to be just a single ride away may now be two, three, or more, but I can go just about everywhere I can go to before the lockdowns.  It’s at these times where you can really appreciate the trains—you can’t easily change their routes so they’re practically the only public ride that remained basically unchanged by the pandemic.

I’m glad that it’s become easier to travel between Metro Manila cities lately, although traffic has really returned to their pre-pandemic state as a lot of people preferred to drive than ride public transport.

4. Meeting Face-to-Face

As most people in Metro Manila got inoculated and new COVID-19 cases dropped and towards the end of the year, people had much more confidence to go outside and do what they used to do.  It was this opportune time that I finally had the chance to see some people I worked with face to face for the first time since the pandemic, and some for the first time ever!  You may see their faces on social media or even during online meetings, but nothing beats seeing and talking to people in person.

BGC is still a great place to meet, especially that they have a lot of outdoor spaces.

3. Eating Out

Eating fast food wasn’t really much of an issue during the pandemic as deliveries were still allowed, but eating pretty much at the same place every day can be tiring.  I admit, I didn’t really jump at the first opportunity I got when restaurants were allowed to accept dine-ins, but when I did so, it was quite a relief!  Food may be the most important basic needs, but eating is not always just about ingesting food—sometimes we crave for the experience!  It doesn’t always matter if it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant or a typical fast food.  Sometimes even food don’t matter but the company.

By simply looking at the number of items in this picture, I obviously missed eating out!

2. Gym Reopening

As someone who got depression from losing years’ worth of progress, you can just imagine how glad I was when gyms were allowed to reopen.  I didn’t immediately go back though as it took a while for me to accept the situation and act on it, and they were closed a few more times throughout the year so it was more on preventing further damages for the first three quarters of the year.  But when they reopened again last October, my mind was at the right place and my body was vaccinated so I was ready to restore my lost progress.

As of December 2021, muscle size is practically back to pre-pandemic level though body fat remains higher and strength weaker.

To my surprise, my hard work really paid off!  I stopped relying on motivation and instead pushed myself to develop a habit of going to the gym (even if I feel lazy or it’s raining, etc.).  I was able to consistently go to the gym at least four times a week (before the Christmas holidays) and my muscles are pretty much back to their pre-pandemic size.  Strength though is a different story but I’m now lifting heavier than what I used to earlier this year.  My body fat is also still higher than my average the past several years pre-pandemic, but I’m still not done.

1. Getting Vaccinated

Hands down, the best thing that happened to me this year was getting vaccinated.  It afforded me to live as closely back to normal as possible without the constant fear that I can just catch the virus and die.  Or that I help spread it and lead others to their demise.  Sure, I’m not glad of the government’s preferred brand (Sinovac, especially now that studies show that it doesn’t stand a chance against the omicron variant), but it was good enough at the time.  Given a chance, I would definitely choose a different brand but if I had to choose between Sinovac and waiting for a different brand, I’d still choose to get the brand that’s readily available, even if it’s Sinovac.

This had become one of the most important documents to have.

We’re closing 2021 again in a less than optimistic state.  New COVID-19 cases reached record highs this year for a lot of countries and the new omicron variant threatens to bring us back to lockdowns.  Nonetheless, I’m still thankful that I got the opportunity to “recharge” this year and that none in my immediate family got sick.

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