Tonight I made the first tentative steps back into a training regime. For a number of reasons. Over the last six months I have been working in a bar, and the late nights and late rises have made it dangerously easy to get fat and forget about my physical health. So, despite some real success in getting into shape at the end of last year, I have screwed it all up again and put every pound of the weight I lost, back on.
The result is that I frequently get called a fat bastard and my self-esteem has snow-balled, and I have been fighting a decent into depression. All this, incidentally has been a pattern dating back to at least the age of fourteen, when I was torn between physical health and self-destructive rebellion.
That was also the age when some pretty low self-reflective notions were drummed into me by a school environment ridden with patriarchal ideas.
I hate being called fat. It's like when Michael J. Fox gets called chicken in Back To The Future. Being fat brings me back to a time in my life when I was not just overweight, but a joke among my peers and a non-entity with women. Calling me fat is a sure-fire way to access all my insecurities at once, from dick-size, right down to my intellectual prowess.
In the past, and I mean right up until this year, any attempt to work out or get in shape has met with only partial success. I have lost weight. I have even changed shape. I've been in a pretty dynamic physical condition at certain points. But I have always been fighting the fat kid.
Every success has been haunted by the possibility of losing what was gained. The fat kid was only a slip-up away. One workout missed could mean a loss of control and a swift fall into bad habits. Because of this, I have never been able to enjoy good health without the background anxiety that all could be lost in one false move.
It's a bit like being a gangster in a film – the pressure of success brings with it the fear of losing all you have won.
So, these days I have to be careful. I need to reinforce intensely positive ideas about training and health so that my workouts themselves don't entrench anxieties about being overweight. The mind is a delicately balanced mystery, and it is sensitive to negative programming.
I am taking it a day at time. Tonight I did fifteen minutes of cardio followed by some weight machine training and some floor work. I enjoyed it. I am not looking for a quick fix, and I am not looking to look any particular way.
I am a broad built guy. There is no use in trying to force my body shape into something other than that. It is much healthier and more positive to try and optimise existing potentialities. I still wish to be leaner. I still want to look good naked, but I am not going to impose anxious and negatively rooted ideas upon myself.
My ideal self does not compare to a movie-star, or a preconceived body-type. Each man is his own man. In blazing our own paths, we blaze completely new paths altogether. No two poets are the same. No two athletes express their athleticism identically.
It is the same for health. True health is optimizing your own potential, physically, emotionally and psychologically. This can only be achieved through a deep, intuitive respect for yourself, and can only be hindered by trying to live up to some objectified, exterior ideal about what it means to be a man, to be sexy, or to be healthy.