Now, right off the bat, I should tell you that this post won’t include any instructions on exercise or nutrition. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be posting any in the future. I actually hope to do so regularly in the future. It’s just that I don’t consider myself any kind of expert in this area. Thus, I don’t want to be like every other remotely-in-shape guy online and start giving tips for people to follow. There’s already an over-abundance of fitness people online. Instead, I want to consult with one or more actual experts, have them give me and my followers (that would be you guys) a sort-of program to follow. Then, you’d see me post journal entries and progress updates, along with invitations for you guys to do the same. That’s at least the tentative plan right now. I’m still hammering out details and such. That said, feel free to leave feedback on if any of your guys would be interested in following along. I get asked about my workout routine every once in a while on YouTube and Tumblr and by email, so I figured I’d try to do you guys one better.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a bit with you guys about the origins of my newfound enthusiasm for exercise. As I said before, I’ve only been doing this gym thing regularly for less than a year (I first got my current gym membership in the middle of last October). Prior to that, while in school, I would attempt to start a regular workout routine about every semester or so. Each new routine would last about two weeks tops before I would just get overwhelmed with all of the stuff I used to do around campus: a double major, student films, circus (you read correctly), college radio…I had a pretty full plate.
I was a lanky kid for pretty much my entire childhood and adolescence. Just take a look at this photo. That’s me in high school. Aside from having long hair down to my shoulders, I was also pretty much a rail. Now I know there are probably a quite a few heavyset people out there rolling their eyes, thinking: “Oh great, you’ve been skinny your entire life. How sad for you…” But that didn’t stop me from feeling as insecure as anyone else who doesn’t have a perfect physique. It affected my confidence, which hindered my dating and romance abilities, plus it fed into my already-massive inferiority complex.
I was fortunate enough to have parents who insisted that I always be taking part in some sort of physical activity for my entire life. It started with me playing soccer as a little kid, then led to Tae Kwon Do for ten years, then took me from track and field to swimming in high school. While almost all of these activities kept my pretty poor diet at bay, they were also keeping me from gaining the kind of mass that guys typically want to gain. This was especially apparent in high school, where my shaggy mop and long, knobby body almost made me look like a clown. Meanwhile, some of the other guys on the team, the ones who had already been swimming club for years, had bodies that made my eyes wander in the locker room.
I went to college retaining a lot of the eating habits from my swim team days. Since I wasn’t physically active anymore, I fell prey to the Freshman 15, and got a nice amount of flab around my mid-section. I wanted to start using the school’s three-story, state-of-the-art gym facility. But I could never enjoy my time there, since it was always teeming and packed with spandex-clad sorority sluts and sweating, preening, frat-tank-wearing jack-offs. This might explain why my workout habits never stuck. Luckily, I joined the FSU Circus the next year, and got my first taste of “filling out”. As a male aerialist, you do a lot of partner-lifting, and your body starts putting on muscle mass just for the sake of your survival. Finally, for the first time in my life, I was starting to feel good about my physique.
Shortly afterward, though, I came out. While coming out does nothing at all to a person’s physique, it can alter one’s perception just a bit. Gay men are consistently stereotyped as being vain and body-obsessed, but we all know that there’s a bit of truth to that generalization. I know, because I immediately began to feel self-conscious again. I was consistently finding myself objectified and having my physically picked apart and critiqued. Luckily, the feedback was mostly positive, but I found myself obsessing over my appearance much more than before. Sure, I was starting to fill out my arms, chest, and shoulders, but my stomach was still a pit paunchy, especially when judged up against Will’s incredibly slender frame. Of course he, being the sweetheart that he is, would make it a point to reassure my insecurities almost daily, which did very well to keep them at bay.
That was, until I spent a summer interning in LA. It was one thing judging myself against the gays of Tallahassee. But walk up and down the streets of West Hollywood, or better yet, feast your eyes on the dancers and patrons of their various bars. You’ll see enough beautiful bodies to make even the most secure person question their looks. It was like living a real life man-candy-Tumblr-blog. It was some time during that summer that I finally made the decision to take control. Whether I liked it or not, I was tired of feeling insecure about my looks and my body. I knew that, for one thing, I wasn’t getting any younger, and I knew that the only difference between me and all the man-candy I saw was simply the time they spent working out and the discipline they had about eating and exercising.
I came back home a college graduate with a full time job and a newfound resolve to get in shape. I had spent my whole life getting exercise but never really using it to obtain the results I wanted. I grabbed a friend and signed up for a Gold’s membership and started getting into a routine. What has proved especially convenient was the fact that my gym is literally on my way home from work. I would have to pass it to drive home. So I’ve still maintained my rule that, on gym days, I don’t go home until I’ve worked out. October marks one year since I’ve started actually working out lifting weights and doing cardio, and I can definitely say that I’ve seen results and learned quite a lot in the past 11 or so months.
First and foremost, I reaffirmed my original realization that I had in LA: the only difference between you and a fit person is time and effort. I’m not saying that everyone has the capacity to be a model or a porn star, but it is definitely possible for you to unveil a more in-shape, confident version of yourself if you’re really willing to put in the work. By that same token, I’ll say that, if you really want it, then you’ll go after it. Plenty of times I hear people talking about how they wish they were in better shape and wish that they worked out an so on and so forth. Hell, I was one of those people for the longest time. Point is, there’s a difference between talking about it and doing it, and nothing about your current situation is going to change until you make it a point to do something about it. Period. It’s the same as talking about a book you want to write but then never putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, or wanting to be a painter but never buying a brush or a canvas. Also, just like writing or painting or any of those things, it’s going to take time before you get used to doing it regularly. You have to (I repeat, have to) make it a habit. That’s the only way you’re going to see the results that you want. Most self-help books will tell you that it takes at least thirty days to make something a habit. I’d venture to say that this takes almost twice as long. You’re going to be tired. You’re going to be sore. You’re going to be busy. You’re going to feel like an idiot curling only 15 pounds when that guy next to you is curling 40 with each arm. Unfortunately there’s no way around it, so you might as well go through it. Find a way to motivate yourself. Find a workout partner (like I did). Find some fitness inspiration photos (like I have). Set up some sort of reward system for sticking with your routine (I reward myself with an impulse buy every three months I go without a break).
It never gets easy. Sure, you might get stronger and it might get easier to lift certain weight, but you should always be challenging yourself. But you’ll eventually learn that that’s a good thing. You’ll start seeing results slowly but surely. Your confidence will go up, not just because you’re seeing a difference in your body, but also because you’ll start meeting challenges that you set for yourself. The first time you bench in the triple digits, you’ll feel like a god. The first time you crank out three sets with a weight that you used to struggle with, you’ll feel invincible. When it comes to working out, I don’t so much enjoy it as much as I love what it does to me. I leave every day exhausted, but feeling like I accomplished something, and I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the person that I see in the mirror.
So if you’re at all unsatisfied with how you look, or you just want to start being healthier, I suggest you start now. No matter if you’re sixteen or sixty, the sooner you start, the easier it will get. If you’re unsure what to do exactly, see a trainer or try and find a trustworthy expert here online. Point is, start now. The sooner you start, the sooner you start seeing results.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in some fitness tips and so on, feel free to express your interest in the comments below, and keep your eye on this blog for new workout posts. Alright, this post is long enough. I’ll stop rambling…