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For a lot of people, fitness is a great way to take control of their body — physically and mentally. The gym becomes an outlet for self-improvement, a place where they can go put their mind at ease while pushing through their physical and mental limits. Overcoming hardships is a daunting task but one that can be accomplished through dedication and consistency — two traits that tend to be fostered through exercise and healthy eating.

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Lena Gitonga lost part of her hand in an accident and she started weightlifting to lift her spirits. Hers is a story of determination, strength and building confidence through weightlifting.

The 24-year old research scientist grew up swimming and was encouraged by her father to lift weights He wanted her to gain strength on her functioning one hand.

She started out with three-kilogram dumbbells and slowly increased the weights.

“Even squats, I would do with the barbell without adding extra weights. Then my trainer and I set goals that seemed ambitious but achievable. I started squatting with weights. In about two years, I have gained a lot of muscle.”

Today, she can comfortably squat with more than 20-kilogram weights. During her workouts, she lifts both light and heavy weighs.

Besides gaining strength, weightlifting has helped shape her legs and arms, providing her with the much-needed mental boost.

The results she says have been amazing. Her body is now shaping itself the way that she wants it to and her arms are toning.

Through it all, she has built endurance, through pushing herself to do things she never thought she would do. The fact that she can be able to lift heavy weights makes her mentally strong.

In the beginning, it was not an easy journey. She would get body aches but once she started pushing past the pain, she boosted her stamina and endurance.

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Fitness is a lifestyle. Here is how you can motivate yourself with these practical tips:

1. Set goals

Start with simple goals and then make your progress to long-range goals. Make your goals realistic and achievable.

Lena’s trainer set goals for her that at first seemed ambitious, yet achievable. She started small in over the last two years, has been able to gain a lot of muscle.

2. Make physical activity part of your daily routine

If it’s hard to find time to exercise, don’t fall back on excuses. Schedule workouts as you would any other important activity.

You can also slip in physical activity throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or take a walk during a break at work.

Research has found that sitting for long periods of time may negatively affect your health, even if you otherwise get the recommended amount of weekly activity. If you sit for several hours a day at work, aim to take regular breaks during the day to move, such as standing during phone conversations.

3. Make it fun

Find sports or activities that you enjoy, and then vary the routine to keep it interesting. If you’re not enjoying your workouts, try something different.

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and you’re more likely to stick with a fitness program if you’re having fun.

Remember that nothing is impossible – nothing can stop you.