I posted a few days ago about taking the superficial out of fitness and getting rid of the stigma that working out is for appearance reasons only.
For many years of my life, my workouts were appearance-driven. If I wanted motivation, I thought about the girl I liked, and I h
it the gym. It’s as primal as primal gets…
Man see girl. Man like girl. Man hit gym.
Although when I first hit the gym, I was far from a man, and very much a boy. So the connection of fitness and appearance started young for me. To be fully transparent, there was also the motivation to hit a baseball further as I grew up in the years of Mark McGwire & juiced baseballs/players, but I admired how those athletes “looked the part” and I wanted to look like them, more so than hit like them. I wanted to look big and intimidating so that bullies would no longer want to mess with me.
Like many people, my confidence was tied to my appearance, and it took A LOT of reps in the gym to grow that confidence. The plethora of mirrors in the gyms I worked out in were always there to help you measure your progress with your eyes.
The mirror became my barometer for success.
If I started to eat more unhealthy foods, or drink more alcohol when that became a thing, I relied on how I looked to see if my workouts were still getting the job done.
Through high school, college, and post-college, I balanced working hard, with playing way harder. What appeared to be a balance, because my appearance looked great (as he said very humbly), was really a complete mess of health on the inside.
My body on the inside was looking more like someone twice my age. I was taking over-the-counter heartburn pills every other day just to live my life. I had the worst anxiety and moods, and often drank to get over it. I had an unpredictable digestive system that you can imagine made anxiety that much worse. I was constantly using acne creams and special soaps and rubs for my skin to keep it somewhat presentable.
What I thought were all just byproducts of “getting older” were all alarms going off that I was causing this aging to myself.
Those sicknesses you get several times a year, the acne you are constantly trying to combat, the inflammation that keeps getting you injured in the gym, the mood swings and overwhelming stress you feel each day, are not “just a part of life.” They are alarms going off to tell you something is wrong.
I had been trying to summon the right feelings about myself through what I saw with my eyes, but I was blind to the feelings that I felt. I was a mess on the inside. A mess I couldn’t measure until I got actual blood tests done and saw how bad I had really treated myself.
I wish I could go back in time and teach my past self all that I know now. I wish I would have given my body more care.
Now that I have another girl in my life, a beautiful 5-year-old, (and a handsome 7-year-old boy) fitness is far from superficial.
In a way, it’s primal.
Man have girl. Man love girl. Man would die for girl. Man will do everything to live for girl.
My fitness is for them. I am fit so that I can be the best dad possible to them. I also think about being a grandparent to their kids, and hopefully even a great-grandparent one day. I’m playing the long game in my fitness.
No longer do I need a mirror to tell me I’m doing well, because it only tells a small part of my health story.
I know now that there is a much bigger picture of health at play than what our eyes can see. It’s up to me, and only me to own that full health journey. I need to be fully aware of everything my body is trying to tell me.
God gave me this one body. This one vehicle to do life in, and I will never take that blessing for granted.