Most of my adult life I’ve been a fitness enthusiast. During my time in college it was practically all I ever did. I figured if I look good, I’ll feel good. But that was never the case. No matter how much I worked out, I was never content with the way I looked. It was some body dysmorphia type shit. It was always about trying to please everyone else instead of being comfortable in my own skin. My whole perception of health was distorted by societal standards, meaning everywhere I looked there was a level of physical masculinity a guy must achieve in order to be accepted in our society. But in reality it’s all bullshit, whatever happened to a person trying to achieve maximum health for their overall well being? Instead we strive to look a certain way. It took me years to finally realize that being healthy is not about how much you workout, but about being comfortable and happy with who you are regardless of the things you do and don’t have. A physical and mental balance.
For men most of our lives we’re told we have to be tough, to never show emotions. And every where we looked, as kids, there’s a false imagine being implanted in our minds of what a man is suppose to look like. Broad shoulders, bulky arms, puffed out chest, etc. But in our reality, no one ever looks that way. Then as we grow a little older we start seeing it more and more through tv, social media, and even sports. So we grow up with this distorted image of a man and that follows us into our adult life.
As adults, men are know to hide their emotions and never express how they truly feel. In our society men make fun of other men when they’re “in their feelings” but don’t we all have feelings? So instead of talking about them we suppress them and try to add other elements to our physical appearance just so we can seem more “manly”. That’s what I did. I started to lift weights in order to achieve the societal level of physical appearance. And it worked. Little by little I started to bulk up, then women started to take notice, and then I fell into the cycle most men fall into. But not once did I understand why it was important for me to be physically and mentally healthy. So once I hit my plateau, I still wasn’t comfortable with who I was. I went years having this mental imbalance. But instead of coming to an answer I kept working out.
For the first 6 months of this year I stopped going to the gym. I was so consumed in my work that my health stopped becoming a priority. I stopped being conscious of what I ate and quickly my body started to take a toll. But the counter intuitive to all of this was that I became more focused on mental health. I wanted to become comfortable in my own skin and that’s what I strived for. So I picked up meditation and reading more self-help books about the psychology behind the human brain. This allowed me to become more aware of everything that surrounded me and the importance of having positive thoughts. Slowly I started to notice the change. I became more confident in who I was and more appreciative of my own journey. These little things changed everything about me mentally. And I wasn’t planning on continuing my fitness journey until I knew I was ready mentally.
It’s been two and a half months since I’ve been back in the gym and I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel good not only physically but mentally as well. Now I go to the gym not for the physical appearance but to reach my full potential well-being. During the first couple of weeks I got back to the gym I was very self conscious about myself. But I knew that I wasn’t there for anything else but my own well-being. So I kept pushing. And pushing. Until it became my lifestyle. I started becoming more health conscious of what I ate, and I slowly cut out all sugars (you’d be amazed at the dependency our bodies have to sugar). All of these small changes added to my overall happiness and confidence not only as a man but as a human being.
In order to make changes in your own life you have to start at the root of the problem. We don’t realize the body shaming that goes on in our society and that leads to other problems in our own mental health. In order to be physically and mentally healthy you have to find a balance between the mind, body, and soul.
Working out is not about trying to look a certain way, it should be about the positive health benefits that you gain from it. I know a lot of people who start going to the gym because they’ve just gotten out of a relationship or because they simply want to “look good” but you’re only doing more damage to your mental health by approaching it that way. Find a balance between the mind, soul, and body before ever becoming a fitness enthusiast or at least have a good reason on why you want to become get into fitness. And men, don’t fall into the same cycle I fell in. We all have feelings and that’s ok, there’s no reason for you to hide them, you only create more damage to the people around you. Don’t be afraid to express how you really feel.
Regardless of who you are, be comfortable in your own skin. Don’t let societal standards deteriorate your unique personality. There’s a lot of bullshit around us that society feeds us in order to describe what beauty is suppose to look like but it’s all a distortion. You’re beautiful just the way you are. A fitness journey starts with your mind and then everything else follows.