I used to be a bit of a portly fellow, whose relationship with food was probably not the healthiest. Whenever I was bored (which was a lot), I go to food to fill my life with some sort of relief from the pains of nothing to do. To the point where I would spontaneously get hungry whenever there was a lull in my life. I’m sure there were some deeper reasons why food became such a contentious thing, but my relationship with how I look and who I was about food change a lot when I hit puberty, I think it does for every guy.
When I entered high school, I was already a towering five foot ten inches. Though not the tallest person I knew in my grade, I was, for the most part, a head above the rest of my peers. Since I was young, I would go through periods where I would grow several inches and become a bit leaner. After this one, my growth to where I am now was slightly more gradual. The eating didn’t stop though, and I ballooned in weight and in size. I didn’t understand healthy eating, and like most burgeoning teenagers I really didn’t care too. I had never been fit before, at least not in since I was much younger. I did sports but it never really was an exercise more of just play. Of course, a with hormones and age comes with a cruel sense of self and my pitfalling self-esteem coincided with my first couple years in high school. I learned how to calculate my body mass index and the readings weren’t exactly favorable.
By the time my second year was coming to a close, I was determined to get thin. I spent every evening when I could outside running. Food became the enemy, I counted calories to a fault and would hardly eat. I wanted to look like those popular people with a sense of curve and strength. So that my body didn’t feel like a condensed blob of fat and skin. I remember at the height my pursuits I would begin to get dizzy spells in the middle of the day that would feel like my head was hit by a wave and my body would feel off balance. I achieved my goal though, and with that, my self-confidence rose again. From then on out, it’s always been a struggle, a yo-yoing of weight and fitness. My relationship with food is significantly better than what it was, and fitness has become a staple in my life. My goals over the years have changed, but it’s always easier to get started after the first time doing it.
I feel that for many men out there, their fitness and health trials and tribulations go largely overlooked. There’s still an extreme amount of effort people have to put out to get the look or feel that they want. I know that for many girls out there, there is a significant hormonal component that keeps them from dropping undesired poundage but there are many obstacles for men also. Look at the expectation for a lot of guys, whose idols and comparisons usually lend themselves to A-list actors, musicians, and athletes. I am always amazed at the amount of work people have those types of muscular physiques put in. Hours upon hours of time to craft and create muscle in just the right way to accentuate their features. The almost comical diets they have to put themselves though, that at least by their accounts feels almost close to slow starvation. All to obtain a look, which is good for them, they deserve it after that type of dedication. For those who are less willing or able, they are relegated to fall into the stereotypic role of being the funny guy, or rich to get ahead.
My point is that for a lot of men, that expectation is bit unrealistic, at least from the onset. It’s like watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and expecting to be able to become a bodybuilder like him from going to the gym once a week. There are different ways to healthy and be fit, and each person should find their own. Some will be more extreme than others, but sometimes it can be just as simple as wanting to be able to run a mile without feeling like you’re going to die.
I have an old non-updated license photo in my wallet that ever so often I will end up looking at. It’s a picture of me, several inches shorter but heavier and a lot rounder face. It of when I was sixteen and a lot of changes were happening. The picture works as both a motivator and a remembrance of what things were like before and why I should always keep trying. Our self-image impacts so much of how we go through the world, do it the way you want to and what feels right to you because you are the only one who knows what it’s like to be 100% you.