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Where I chat about self image & motivation

by John on January 31st, 2012

We’re past the first month of 2012. Yet, it’s not looking at the calendar that leads me to this conclusion (although honestly, I’m a bit freaked out . . . where the hell did January go?), but the gym. I try to get to the gym every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday over lunch. A few weeks ago, I would need to settle for my second, or maybe even third choice of cardio machine. Now, not only do I get my choice as to the type of machine that I’ll do my cardio on, but I, typically, get to choose the specific machine1

The resolutioners aren’t there anymore. I like to think that the throngs of people who, so recently, were in my way at the gym managed to get the results they wanted, and figured they could do the rest from home. I’m deluding myself, I know, but I truly hope that is the case.

Now, it’s me & the regulars, just like it was at the end of last year.

When I’m at the gym, I have my routine. It’s a good routine and it works for me — I do a 30 minute, full-body circuit, and then I do 15 minutes on an elliptical machine cranked to 11, and then I cool down with some crunches. But, recently, I’ve found myself pushing just a little bit harder than I had been. The routine had become, well, a routine . . . I did my thing, I started to sweat, but I wasn’t really pushing myself. Today, though, I did.

And I couldn’t really figure out why, right off the bat. But, I think I just did.

I have the Gettysburg Marathon coming up in May . . . I’ve run this before, and while they’re changing the route, it’s familiar. No, a month after that marathon, I’m meeting the Internets during a half-marathon. And there’s some part of me that wants to impress at that event. I know it’s silly (especially since it’s a half-marathon and, well, if you’re looking to impress runners, “looking good” is quickly cancelled out when anyone you’re there to impress quickly leaves you in their dirt), but I don’t want people’s first impressions to be “the fat guy.”

And, well, I know I’m not fat2. Deep down, I know it. But, when I close my eyes and think of what I look like, the “me of right now” is not what looks back at me. I picture myself as I was about 10 years ago.

  • I was clean shaven
  • I was, at least 30-40 pounds heavier3
  • I couldn’t do a pushup if my life depended on it
  • I wore my hair as I had all of my life – parted on the right-hand side so that it covered my (often acne covered) forehead, trimmed around the ears
  • I was drinking far too much

When I look in the mirror, sometimes I really, honestly, do a double-take. My body is far from perfect4, but it’s not what is stuck in my head, either. First off, I have facial hair, yet I barely have any hair on my head. I’m far leaner than my self-image says I am (even if the scale doesn’t agree . . . seriously, it’s gone up since Christmas, yet some of my clothes are falling off of me). There’s a miniscule amount of definition in my arms & shoulders.

I still drink far too much, but it’s mostly wine now, where it was beer before.

Lately, there have been some people who are pretty vocal about their self image – Because Mama Said So and Pop come to mind, right off the bat, but there are countless people on Twitter talking about keeping themselves moving.

So, I’m not really sure where I’m trying to go with this . . . but, if you don’t like the way you think you look, well, chances are that the image you have of yourself is nothing like what the actual image is. Working out is always better than not working out. And any form of motivation is good — even if it’s a silly thing that you want to look a little bit better while meeting up with bloggers in real life.

Now, who wants to rub my hamstring? I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve really been pushing myself….


1 Right between the TV’s that have ESPN and The History Channel on, and one row behind the lady with the really hot ass.
2 Though I am still “rounder” than most any other runner on a course.
3 At my house, we had a “candy drawer.” It was a drawer that was, simply, filled with candy . . . whenever you were in the kitchen, be it just come home from work, or jut leaving the door, or you were cooking dinner, or you were making your way to/from the bedroom, the candy drawer sat there, taunting. I seldom passed it without partaking. Also, we’d buy one of those large buckets of every snack food available, because sometimes you want a corn chip, and sometimes you want a pretzel, and sometimes you want a cheeze doodle, so why not buy them all at once? And then eat the whole thing, all at once, because, really the perfect complement to a corn chip is a pretzel. And the perfect complement to a pretzel is a cheeze doodle. And the perfect complement to a cheeze doodle is a corn chip….
4 If I ever take a photo that’s meant to show off a little, you’ll always see that the camera is facing me, straight on. I despise the way I look in profile.
26 Comments
  1. I hear this, just so you know.

    What I see is not what’s there, and I’m trying to figure it out :)

    Sometimes it’s just helpful to know we’re not alone in this whole mess of self-image/trying/working on it.

    • Yeah, it is nice to know that I’m not the only one who wishes his body were different. I’m truly trying to come to grips with accepting my body while also trying to better it.

  2. MissMerry permalink

    I try to tell myself all the time that most people simply don’t notice the details like we do. I’ve asked 2 or 3 guys in the past were they taken back by my stretch marks the first time they saw them and they reply, what stretch marks? Either they are that nice or they are too busy making sure I don’t see that thing that makes them uncomfortable. My motivation is untight pants. Tight pants sitting all day makes one very cranky.

    • Tight pants are the worst . . . I’ll admit to keeping pants from when I was much larger, specifically so that I can put take them off without unfastening the button, just to remind myself how far I’ve come.

      Of course, um, when I end up in a bad spiral and then can’t fit into those pants . . . well, that’s bad. Real bad.

  3. Going to pass on the Hammy thing. But wishing you extremely good luck and training with Gettysburg…its one Hilly Mo Fo.

    • It truly is . . . this year is supposed to be slightly less hilly than last (which was a there & back again course). We’ll see, though, I don’t know if I trust the organizer, who claimed “rolling hills.”

      • I am convinced that rolling hills is just race director terminology for “Lots o Hills” I love rollers, but only once in a while does a race really have them, usually its just a lot of hills!

  4. just set up the treadmill in the basement! whoot! whoot! but I’m going to start with a 5K before I hit the marathon circuit.

    • I hate running on a treadmill — I truly do. If I’m going to work out, inside, I’ll cycle, I’ll hit the elliptical, I’ll lift weights . . . but it’s a rare, rare moment that I’ll actual use the dreadmill.

  5. I always think I’m way bigger than I am. I’ll be out with Hubs and mention how great someone else looks and he looks and me and will pretty much smack me over the head for thinking that person looks fabulous and I look awful… when in reality, when I say I wish I had so-and-so’s legs or so-and-so’s small stomach, I’m actually smaller. Body issues. Gah.

    • You know, it’s funny, because if I had to list one blogger who I felt was fully confident with the way s/he looked, you’d be very near the top of the list.

  6. Cyndie permalink

    It amazes me when someone has a body image problem that you would never though they would have. It’s also funny, that I see myself as big and unwanted by anyone (deep in my mind) but I love big men. I’m drawn to the thicker built man and I can’t imagine a man drawn to a thicker woman.
    I think it’s awesome that you can see past your mental block of self image and see what you like. Your a huge encouragement to a lot of us.

  7. Okay, I hesitate to say something, ’cause when I do I’m usually wrong and then I just look crazy, but I swear you never actually give the footnotes of this post! And I always think I look fabulous, then receive nasty shocks when I come across a mirror!

    • Ok, yeah, um, I forgot to put the corresponding footnotes in . . . that’s corrected now.

      About the mirror’s reflection for you . . . um, you’re pretty. Like really pretty-like, so I’m not sure how you’re not happy with the reflection.

      • Whew, I love when I’m not crazy! And I have absolutely no chin, so I sympathize with unattractive profile shots.

        And I’m perfectly fine looking. Just, weirdly, in my head I’m gorgeous. Which is always a shock to realize isn’t reality. (Strangely, I’ve always had such a mental picture of myself, even in middle school, when the shock level was, let’s say, much greater.)

  8. I love this message. LOVE.

    {Keep this one for your kids, okay?}

    • I will certainly do my best to keep this for my kids . . . but also make it so that my kids absolutely never think that I could have ever thought these things about myself.

  9. I’ve had this get me both ways – believing I still looked like my 20-something self & then catching a reflection or seeing a picture and realizing, AAAGH. I put on a lot of weight after a particularly bad year, and it took years to realize what was going on and start to do something about it (talk about denial).

    But I’ve also experienced what you and Shell and some of your other commenters say, where I am sure I look fat, or old, or dumpy, only to discover it was all in my head.

    Our minds are so powerful – if only we could harness all that power to do positive things, instead of beating up ourselves.

    PS – I despise my profile, too.

    • Oh, there’s still a very real part of me who thinks I’m still a 20 year old . . . heck, anytime I party with the college crew . . . well, it doesn’t take long for me to remember that I’m not 20 anymore.

      I truly wish it were as easy to take off weight as it is to put on . . . because I’ll fully admit to stress-eating for a day/week . . . and if only “being good” for a day/week could undo that, it’d be fine.

      I, truly, need to fully commit myself to a healthier lifestyle.

  10. You are amazing.

  11. i can’t even talk self-image right now. Maybe in 12 weeks.

    You? Look great. I can’t imagine you otherwise.

    • Katie, you’re growing a human and you’re as cute as a button.

      And thank you, though I’m having trouble seeing that today.

  12. Exercise makes you feel you look good, even if there isn’t much difference. That’s the wonderful thing about it: our perception makes us happier.

    A 30 min brisk walk makes me feel like I’m Fergie.

    • After the thirty minute circuit, where I’m sweating bullets and my arms are doing that thing that they don’t actually fall straight down at my sides, I feel like I’m Ah-nold. It’s amazing.

      If only it were easier to remember how wonderful exercise made you feel when you are in bed.

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