Monday, March 18, 2013

Finding Your Perfection

I finally have the body I want.  The key to getting the body you want is to want a really sh***y body. - Louis CK

When I'm at the gym I rarely ever socialize.  I'm pretty sure my fellow gym goers think I'm unfriendly and anti-social, but that's not the case at all.  The problem is that I'm too social.  If I start talking to people, I will never do my workout.  There have been many instances where I run into an old friend and we start chatting and soon an hour is gone and I haven't even seen the inside of the locker room yet.  My mother will ask me a question while I'm warming up on the treadmill and soon I've been on the treadmill a half an hour and I'm out of time for the weight room.

This means I don't know many of the names of other gym members.  I plug into my headphones and ignore everyone.  I recognize all of the regulars, but I couldn't tell you most of their names because I don't talk to them.  Occasionally one or two of them will stand out to me.  For example, there is this one guy I call "Superman" in my head because he is always performing these astounding feats of strength. *

*I really should learn this guy's name.  One day he saw me wearing a Chincoteague shirt and came up to me talking about his daughter's love of horses and the Misty books and wanted to know more about Chincoteague vacations.

Then there is the woman I call Gym Goddess.  If I were capable of being a lesbian, I'd be one for her.  She is beautiful.  She can't hide her pretty face behind her nerdy glasses.  Most importantly, she has an amazing body.  I can't stop admiring her body.  She is long-limbed (though not super-duper-Amazonian tall) and lean.  Her muscles curve out gently beneath her skin without any extra fat on them.  She looks strong, lean, and capable.  I find myself watching her work out not just because I want to admire her (well maybe I do a little), but because I want to see what exercises she does as if doing her workouts would give me her body.

Then one day I noticed something.  As I saw GG walking around the gym with her lean arms and legs extending out from her tiny tank top and little bike shorts with no stomach bulging outwards, I noticed something else about her.

"HA!" I exclaimed inwardly.  "She has no boobs and no butt!"  I then went over to the mirror, turned partway, and looked down at my best asset.  "Hello gorgeous," I said to my butt.  "Nice to see you are still back there."

My first thoughts about GG's lack of curves were a bit snarky.  I admit that.  But once the snark was over*, I really began to re-examine my ideals of perfection and what I really wanted to achieve for my body.

*I will still inwardly make fun of GG for her use of the leg press machine. I ridicule anyone who uses a leg press machine. A gym goddess should know better.

The media hold up an ideal body type for women as tall, willowy, and very slender.  Most of us who consume mass media agree that a long-limbed and lean woman is the model of perfection.  Women who are very lean, but have one or two assets that are a little bigger than the ideal (e.g. Jennifer Lopez) are considered "voluptuous" or "curvy".  It is important to note that while as a society we may worship the fashion model, as individuals we all have our own preferences.

What if I were to magically transform my body one night and wake up with Gym Goddess's body?  I would be standing in front of a mirror, wearing a bikini, and admiring my lovely flat stomach, while my husband would be standing behind me, staring forlornly at the place where my butt used to be.

What makes me attractive to men?  Well, that's a dumb question as I can't be attractive to all men.  Let me rephrase that as what makes me attractive to the men who are attracted to me?

I'd love to say that men are initially attracted to me because of my sparkling wit and devastating intelligence, but I don't think that's the case.  I look slightly suspiciously at a guy who says the first thing he noticed was my dazzling smile, raven ringlets, or my rather ordinary mud brown eyes. The truth is that in 90% of my relationships, guys are attracted to me for the T&A. (The other 10% were just nerds who were just grateful that a woman would date them whether they found her truly physically attractive or not.)  I remember very clearly the day I learned the power I can have over men by sporting a black bustier cocktail dress.

If I knew I could lose all of the thirty-plus pounds that I would like to lose, but also knew it would mean losing my assets, would I still want to lose that much?  I think Gym Goddess's body is just as sexy as mine (sexier really) even if she lacks the typical female curves.  Having boobs and a butt is partially a function of body fat.  If I want to lose as much excess body fat as possible, I could potentially lose it in places where I would rather some of it stayed. On the other hand, knowing how much I envy fit, lean women, I might really love the way I looked without any serious curves.  Unfortunately my husband might not - and he is the second most important person in my life and the person who enjoys my body the most.

The truth is that I have been overweight for so long that I have no idea what my body would look like if it weren't overweight.  It is not very likely that I will lose thirty pounds on this program.  I'm still trying to work on that goal regardless.  Should I reach that goal, there may still be things about my body that I don't like.  The aspects of my body I don't like could be very different from what I don't like about my body now.  That's a chance I have to take.

My weight loss shouldn't be about how I look.  I know this.  I am trying to avoid being another Type 2 Diabetes statistic.  I want to cut my heart disease risk.  I want to grow old gracefully and as easily as possible.  Whether or not I have a perfect body aesthetically shouldn't even figure in to the equation.  Unfortunately, it still does.

The future of this program is a mystery.  I don't even know what my eating habits or workouts will be next week.  I certainly can't predict how much my body will change in the next nine months.  Will I have a perfect body?  If so, what will that perfect body be?  If not, what will I not like about it?

In some ways I think I have a great body right now.  I'm not just talking about the aesthetics of a nice, round, firm butt either.  I'm talking about how I have a body that drop to the floor and crank out twenty pushups.  I'm talking about how I have a body that can rattle off an intricate tap combo.  I'm talking about how I have a body that takes control of animals weighing hundreds of pounds.  I'm talking about a body that will walk rather than drive whenever possible.  My body's accomplishments aren't Olympic-caliber, but for someone who is naturally unathletic and klutzy, my body's achievements are pretty spectacular when you consider what I have to work with.

Perfection is in the eye of the beholder.  Only I can decide if and when I have a perfect body.  I am beginning to realize that I don't know yet what my perfect body would look like.  Would I prefer to stay curvy and have an extra fifteen pounds on me, or would I like to lose thirty pounds and have no curves?  Is my body type just the type that is always going to have extra padding on it no matter how much fat I try to remove from it?  Is it possible to have lean defined muscle, no excess padding around the stomach, and still have a reasonable amount of boobage and a nice round butt?

Perfection is achievable as long as I believe that wherever I am is perfect as it is.

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