I promise, this introduction isn’t boasting.
I can run marathons as fast as Lance Armstrong (will not even attempt to measure up to him in cycling). I’m in good enough shape to carry 100-pound concrete bags up a hillside, as I was required to do on one landscaping job. I do pushups, stretches, crunches, and squats twice a day.
And yet, from the outside, I still have a body that reminds me more of Chris Farley than Channing Tatum.
I feel like such an immature high schooler writing this, but I’m not at all satisfied with the way I look. I could probably deal with this if I were a sloth working a desk job and avoided exercise at all cost, but I’m anything but. My physical abilities are up to par, even beyond those of others my age, and yet, I look the way I do: flabby upper body, undefined arms, less appealing to the opposite sex.
Maybe I’ve never come to terms with just how difficult it is for one to get into great shape with six-pack abs and bulging biceps. I still have to work jobs that don’t always allow me time to do my full routine, but I have friends who do less and achieve better results. I’m just whining to the Internet and the universe: where is the male form I was promised?
As a runner, I believe anyone who can’t run long distances isn’t living up to the potential of our species. Likewise, whenever I see men’s fitness magazines, others running on the trail beside me with their shirts off, or guys who are able to pull off tight clothes in nightclubs, I think: what am I doing wrong? Why aren’t I what nature and history tell me I should be?
There’s all this talk from both genders about learning to love your body no matter what the size or shape. In general, I think that’s absolutely true, but is their advice directed at those who feel their level of fitness challenges their manhood, or femininity? I can’t shake the feeling I’m capable of looking so much better.
Exercise isn’t a leisure activity; it’s necessary for a healthy life. But I would have hoped that exercising regularly and maintaining a good diet would have reflected my fitness as easily on the outside as it was on the inside. I’m in excellent health: I rarely get sick, my resting heart rate is around 50, my cholesterol is low, my bones are strong.
But every time I see another man crossing my path with larger arms and muscular peeks, whether he’s on a magazine cover or in my dust on the trail, I get taken down a notch.
Is it a question of time? Can only the rich or Hollywood types afford body waxing, consistent personal trainers, spray tans, and just the
leisure to hit the gym on a regular basis, as money isn’t as much of a concern, if any?
I’ve been at the same level of fitness more or less for the past twelve years, and though I felt accomplished completing my first marathon and stronger hitting the gym a few times a week, I’ve never looked the way I’ve wanted to, like the way I grew up believing a man is supposed to have 5% body fat.
It’s almost as though I think a “Captain America” solution is my only hope: a serum that instantly transforms weaklings into “real men.”
Capable of defending their country. Envied by other men, desired by women. And looking the part.
Photo credit: Michael Taggart Photography/Flickr