My pool opens this weekend. In response, I went on a run this past Saturday and again after lifting weights on Monday. My knee hurts and I’m not lean yet. Once again, summer is here and I don’t look the way I’d like to look or feel the way I’d like to feel. Then again, my ideal look and feel may be a moving target. More likely, my ideal look and feel are separate targets never meant to be struck in unison.
On the bright side (and other than my achy knee), I feel better than I’ve ever felt my current level of fitness. In years past I’ve been stronger, leaner, and more muscular. At those times I dealt with more pain, solitude, and self-loathing. My self-loathing hasn’t changed all that much — people always tell me I’m too hard on myself. Typically I respond with — what’s the alternative?
So while it’s definitely too late to do much about my fatness in time for this weekend’s pool opening, I am proud I decided to do something about my fitness. Because if you’re going to have some fatness, you better have some fitness. While this is especially true if you are a personal trainer, I argue everyone would be better off beginning with this end in mind.
You might say —
“But Brian, you kick so much ass! I follow you on the gram and you put some serious weight overhead and could Bulgarian Split Squat me with ease!”
“You’re obviously muscular. I wouldn’t be able to notice your chub if you hadn’t let your wife post baby-moon photos.”
And I’d say, you’re right. My life is pretty sweet. You should see how much discipline I lack in regards to my nutrition (it’s better than I make it sound). And I enjoy a fair amount of beer (yes, I’m OK). And I was pretty pleased I was able to run 2.5 miles in under 25 minutes (nothing special).
All joking (bragging) aside, I’m very fortunate to have sustained a serious injury as a teenager and to be fueled by insecurity. My injury keeps me honest. Without training, my downward slope would be much more slippery. My self-loathing and insecurity drives me to engage in behaviors that invigorate my masculinity. Somehow I’m lucky enough to tolerate the excess body-fat I carry around my abdomen. You might say I lack discipline. Hell, I’d say I lack certain discipline. We would be right.
What’s the point of discipline when you’ve got it this good?
Well, the point is — I don’t always feel so tolerant of myself. Sometimes (most times) I’m able to tolerate myself — my look, feel, and status. And other times I’m full of frustration and want to want to make some more substantial progress. So every once in a while I ride the wave and take a few steps forward. Then life happens, maybe I feel enough satisfaction, or I’ll get back to it soon. Change is never easy. Change can be simple. Simple does not mean easy.
So if you’re anything like me, I get it. You want to look better naked. We all want to be more comfortable in our own skin and more capable of living a life worth living. When we look in the mirror and like what we see, we feel liberated to be the person that does the things we dream of doing.
You have an inner strength ready to unleash. And the good and bad news is — you will feel it before you see it. Over the years I’ve realized the individuals who are most honest with themselves achieve the most immediate, substantial, and lasting results. The battle is won or lost in-between the ears. Wrap your head around where you are, where you’re looking to go, and what it takes to get there and break it all down piece by piece.
Push addition before subtraction and focus on fitness first. Let’s see what positives we can add to your life before we worry about taking anything away. Take what is useful and leave the rest behind. Perhaps installing a few positives will crowd out some negatives.
Strength progresses rapidly, especially if you’re new to resistance training. And don’t worry, you won’t get too muscular too fast. Trust me, I’ve been trying to pack it on for years, and new meat has never snuck up on me. So much of a beginner’s gains is neuro-muscular coordination AKA the mind-muscle connection. Immerse yourself in the skill of technique — your body awareness and control will build and you will feel the wind build behind your sail. You’ll still feel fatigue climbing stairs, and you will knock em out easier than ever and recover faster.
When you let it happen, the feeling can be quite intoxicating. You gain a momentum that gives you confidence and a sense of belief that you can and will get to the next level. This momentum makes every action that follows easier to bite off and chew. Soon, you want to fuel your body in a way that helps you maximize the return on your investment. And if you still have some fatness, at least now you’ve added some fitness.