Sunday, October 7, 2007

Skewed Outlook

I have a body image problem. I've never been able to objectively judge how I look. To some extent I'm sure that is normal. My problem is that when I look in the mirror I still see myself the way I looked when I was in high school - scrawny. By looking at the scale I can tell that I've gained a substantial amount of weight since then, and happily most of that is quality muscle. Despite all that, the mirror still makes me feel awkwardly skinny. On the bright side that helps me with my drive to keep lifting consistently even when I don't feel like being there.

There is more. I have days where I feel fat or that my arms look like toothpicks. This can happen mere hours after I feel like I'm the most ripped guy in town. Usually it the body parts I've just lifted that I feel the best about. My arms look great after arms day and my legs look like trash. But on legs day the legs look fine and the arms seem a little flabby or shrunken.

It gets worse though. There is a certain amount of vanity that comes with the aspirations of being a bodybuilder. I find I'm checking out other guys where ever I go. If they are more built than I am, I get jealous of their superior genetics or feel the need to imagine they use steroids. If they are bit out of shape or stick skinny like I used to be, I find myself feeling superior and wondering how they can stand to be fat or have no muscle.

This all leaves me wondering if I'm mentally stable. I tell myself that I workout because I want to be healthy, because I enjoy how I feel after exercising and that being in shape is good for my confidence. All this other stuff that runs through my mind makes me wonder if going to the gym everyday is turning me into snob. Maybe it would be better to grab some ice cream get a movie, forget about the sore wrist and stiff back and work up a nice pot belly and maybe some heart disease. That isn't really my style though. I'll be taking my chance with snobbery. I'm not that worried though. Something tells me that my attempt at competitive bodybuilding will be plenty humbling.


ERV said...

Its not just you. What Ive found helps me keep these feelings in check: Make it about meeting your strength goals. Make it about your health. Make it about living a long life to see all your sons adventures as he grows up.

I know youre training for the show, but when I made it about looks, I went nuts. And not in a good way.

Iron Soul said...

You are right. Good health and a healthy lifestyle are my ultimate goals. The show is just short term objective to keep me interested and to say I did it. If it is fun, I'll do it again. If I end up going nuts, I'll give up the competing and just lift because I like to lift.

Reverted said...

Here, let me clear it up for you: you're a mentally unstable girly-man.

Feel better? *grin*

(I can tell you, as a long-time friend growing up together, that even though you think you've lately been a slob in terms of your diet and workout schedule, you are still enormously more built-up than you used to be. ...But, I'm delighted to know you can still have the crap scared out of you by someone tapping on your arm in the dark as you head out the door for work... lol)

Daniel said...

Yeah - so I've always mildly considered the idea of entering a contest - but never thought I was actually built enough to do it. (And the one or two chances I've had, I didn't come up with enough motivation to transcend the obstacles.) That said - I have had a horrible time lifting over the past six months. I separated my AC joint snowboarding last Christmas, and it's just getting to the point where I can do chest again. Plus having a baby (as you know), working way too much, and everything else has caused the longest slack off session I've had in the last 12 years. I'm getting really motivated to get religious (whatever that means) about it again. But so far that's only meant two or three days a week. It needs to get better.

Iron Soul said...

Yeah I basically had 3 months off after Jamie was born. I've been real fortunate on the injury front though. Some sore wrists and back now and then, but nothing to keep me out of the gym too long.

And Jim I've taken to backing out the door on my way to work now. Hope there is nobody outside :)

Tim said...

Jeff, if ever you start to feel scrawny again, I give you permission to think of me.