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The Body You Want

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I’m a strong believer in the idea that I am the primary arbiter of my fate, and that means when something in my life is not how I want that the onus is on me to do something about it. Call it sappy or call it inspirational. I figure I may as well live as though I’m more or less in the driver’s seat. Otherwise why really bother? Here’s a hard thing to admit out loud: not terribly long ago I was clinically obese. I let my body deteriorate, and I was sedentary. I consumed too many calories for my low activity level, and boy did it show!

Screw that noise. That wasn’t the body I wanted, but it was the body I earned. In my early 20s I was very into weight training, so I know what to do at the gym to get the results I want. For me to get back in the gym I decided to cut calories for a period of time first to get to a healthier, reasonable weight. Now I’m happy to report I’m back at the gym and I’m doing a solid mix of cardio and weights. I look and feel better every passing week.

Make no mistake about it; there will be pain and discomfort. I experienced hunger due to running a calorie deficit when I was accustomed to a surplus. I’ve felt like a truck hit me the day after an intense gym session. These things I recognized as telltale signs I was on the right track again. If you’ve never felt them before the weakness inside you will tell you to be discouraged, tell you to quit. Silence it by working even harder. Every extra minute on the treadmill, every extra repetition on the bench press, it’s all to kill that weakness in you that says you can’t do it, that says you should be satisfied being on the couch with chips and a beer. Our bodies didn’t evolve for that lifestyle, and it will kill you if you let it. Don’t let it.

The truth of the matter is you get (and deserve) the body you earn for the most part. Statistical outliers exist, but they’re rarer by definition. Also there’s no condition that changes the laws of physics. Consume more food than your body uses and your weight goes up over time, every time.

What I needed to finally get control of my life was a reality check. I turned 27 and everything was going the wrong direction. I realized I was quickly running out of the very finite resource known as “youth” and I am painfully aware I won’t be able to rely on it to save me forever. Being fat for a time did teach me a valuable lesson: complacency kills. I found I wasn’t invincible, and that extra weight didn’t make me feel like a man in the prime of his life. It made me feel like an invalid. I lived in a third story apartment during that time. No relatively healthy human being should bemoan a couple flights of stairs.

What you need to do: I know you’re out there, and you probably want to say something about fat shaming, or give me an anecdote about how your blood pressure is actually awesome even though you weigh 400 pounds. You need to cut that out. Half measures need to go out the window, and you need to embrace reality. Recognize the body you have is the body you earned, and your lifestyle choices are what got you where you are. Make a better decision. Start now. You may actually thank me 6 months later if you stick with it.

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