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That Life, That Exercise (Part 2 of 2, Finally!)
November 11, 2010
If you’re jumping in on this three-part blog entry that I initially sold as a two-parter, you can gain some context here with Part 1 and here with Part 1.5. Those of you following me on a weekly basis can exhale now, because I know you’ve been holding your breath in anticipation for this incredibly (anti)climactic last part.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to pull all of this together without turning the topic of me — exercise, diabetes, body image, and…well, and all of that other stuff that falls under the huge umbrella of “self,” — into a nice little nugget or two of what I’ve learned.
Just last night while out with some friends for beer and great conversation, “The Gym” as a topic came up. We’re all of us exercisers (my wife and the couple we were with), all of us normal-looking (“normal looking”) folk, and, like most people, we’ve all of us our share of body issues.
At one point the subject came up about how unfair it is that the men at the table had small, tight behinds, while nothing the women would do, no how many hours on a treadmill, miles run, glutes pressed, what have you, seemed to get them — or their backsides — to where they’d like to see them.
We all have body issues. All of us. If you don’t, more power to you.
Have I mentioned that we have body issues? Because after the comment about small, tight tushies — and maybe because I was on my second beer, but hell, I’m writing the same thing now and I’m sober as can be — I said to the group that for the entirety of my adult life I’d have gladly traded some of my genetically gifted predisposition toward love handles — curse my Swedish and German stock — for more junk in my trunk if it meant a more carved, svelter abdomen.
Yet that’s not going to happen. The thin middle. And I’m not talking here about wanting that stupid six-pack (we’re no longer talking beer, either). I know that even when I burned thousands of calories a day in cross country and track, or cycling, it didn’t happen. The more I wanted it to happen, and the more I worked out in the hopes that it might happen, it seemed to me the larger the bits of flesh, which weren’t much to begin with, became.
Because I obsessed. I paid way too much attention. See, you know that psychological exercise they give people with eating disorders? The one in which those with disorders are asked to draw what they think they look like? You have tiny, tiny — thin, really thin — people who draw these overweight representations of how they think they look to the world. Totally out of whack.
I understand that. (Not that I’m tiny, tiny, and thin, really thin. No.)
However, I have to say that my long view of exercise has changed how I think of my physical self — changed for the way better, pushing much of my body-image anxiety into a manageable realm. I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but here are some bullet-point ramblings :
Treat the gym, treat exercise, treat the routine, the ritual — and your body — as if it’s yours. It is. You belong wherever you are, and once you realize that, it’s kind of a cool thing.
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