I’ve been dieting hardcore for the last three weeks.
I’m surprised that I’ve come this far because my typical pattern goes a little like this:
Get fat -> Get motivated -> Get thin -> Get hungry -> Repeat
So, to be three weeks in and still going strong is significant. I feel better. I feel more confident. I feel more satisfied. Seeing the difference that your efforts are making certainly help as well.
I used to be a very thin individual. When I was a freshman in high school, I was one hundred pounds wet and had zero muscle. Needless to say, my size and athletic ability, or the lack thereof, caused me great distress early on.
When I say distress, I mean that I was picked on mercilessly.
I first started weight lifting during this time, and I couldn’t even lift the bar. As you could imagine, my looks and my inept ability to be “manly” pushed me to “get big.” I suppose being ridiculed and openly mocked by my “friends” helped a little bit too.
I hated not measuring up to what the others looked like or could do. I couldn’t hit the baseball very far. I couldn’t play the outfield without making a fool of myself. I sat the bench the entire season. My friends knew I sucked. I knew I sucked.
I didn’t measure up.
Over the next four years of my high school experience, I took a weight lifting class every semester, and I played any kind of sport that I could. By my junior year, I was 150 pounds and playing football. I could bench press 175 pounds. I wasn’t “ripped,” but at least I wasn’t being picked on anymore.
Once I stopped playing football, I quickly gained 25 more pounds, and I haven’t looked back since.
I wasn’t picked on for my size after that, but that’s because I changed schools. Regardless, it left a deep impact on me.
Now, having graduated college and settled into “real life”, I can say that I’m back in the same place. I’m not being picked on, but it’s no secret that I’m gaining weight quickly.
People notice. I notice. I can’t sit down without feeling uncomfortable. I’ve had to go up a size in clothing. I’m not obese by any means, but I’m not the Vogue magazine cover boy.
That’s what bothers me. I want to be muscular. I don’t want to feel ashamed of who I am. Yet, I am.
What I’m trying to say is that, as a male, I’m ashamed of my body.
It’s not solely limited to women. It may seem like it, but what male wants to admit he’s ashamed of himself? We’re supposed to be tough. We’re supposed to be cool, calm, and confident. Right? Right…?
Forget stereotypes. Here I am, a twenty-four old male, bearing his soul to you.
I have an issue with what my body looks like.
I’m not writing this to you because I want empty praise. I’m writing this to you because I think that this is an issue far too many men, and women, deal with on a daily basis. If bringing hope and peace means sharing an embarrassing fact about myself, so be it.
The garbage glitz and glam that tabloids and Hollywood shove down our throats force us to believe that there’s an ideal to aim for. Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are full of individuals who are ripped, toned, and “successful.” We want to be like them. We want to look like them. We want to be accepted like them.
Pornography, swimsuit editions, movies, entertainment magazines, etc… create a fantasy realm that beckons us to rent the house, pay the mortgage, and live in la la land. It seems that the population is skyrocketing.
Unfortunately, the house doesn’t exist, the mortgage is too high, and la la land is exactly that.
Here’s my reality:
I don’t look like them. I’ll never look like them. It’s hard to measure up to something that isn’t even real.
Let’s be honest: The majority of the images we see are doctored. They’re fake. They represent the false reality that the media wants us to believe. They portray whatever agenda they’re trying to push.
My friends bought into the lie and made sure that I knew I didn’t fit in. They told me that I was too thin and too stalky. Now I hear voices that say I’m too pudgy. I hear some openly mock me for my ever increasing weight.
It hurts. It causes me to feel vulnerable. It pushes me to lose the weight and gain the muscle. But for what, though?
To be widely accepted and ogled after? To have a smoking hot body that’s only going to waste away in the grave one day?
I’m not advocating for an unhealthy lifestyle. I believe that we should take care of our bodies. What I am advocating is for us to stop for a moment and ponder our motivations.
Are we dieting and shedding excessive amounts of weight to gain approval from others? Or are we losing weight to improve our lifestyle?
One of these motivations leads to bondage while the other gives you the freedom to be who you are.
You will never be strong enough, thin enough, muscular enough, or toned enough to merit everyone’s approval. You may get a few whistles, a few pats on the back, but at what cost? What are you and I willing to sacrifice just so someone will accept us for who we are?
At the end of the day, if someone can’t love us for how God created us, the problem isn’t with you or me. The issue is theirs to live with. If all that they’re concerned about is how your body looks, then that speaks to a deeper level of who they are as a human, not you.
As you and I take a look at ourselves in the mirror today, take the time to love the body that God gave you. Be healthy. Eat right. Exercise. I believe that there are two extremes to the equation: the one discussed today and a total apathy towards your physical health. There should be a beautiful balance between the two.
I can’t sit here and tell you that I’m comfortable in my own flesh. It’s imperfect. It’s flawed. I wish I had a six pack. I wish that I was chiseled. Those are things that I’m working towards, but it’s a messy road. I’m trying to resolve to not do it for the applause of others, though. Forget what people think.
I’m learning how to love myself, and others, for who they are; physically and emotionally. It doesn’t come naturally, but I’m willing to put in the work to make it a reality.
So, from one physically flawed individual to another, you are enough. Your value is not based on your looks, but rather your heart. Do what you need to do to be healthy, but realize that the inside is what counts. Also, stop listening to other people so much.
Except me because I obviously know what I’m talking about. 😉
You are so loved.
You are so valued.
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