How I ended the war with my body

Screenshot_2016-08-21-13-11-15-1Writing a blog is a great way to see how you’ve grown over time. Five years ago, I wrote a post with these grim words:

“It makes me sad when I think about it, actually. The countless hours I’ve wasted worrying about my weight. The negative dialogue I hold with myself about it.

“And yet, it seems intrinsic to me now. I’ve thought about it my entire adult life and I’m not sure there is a solution to it.”

Actually, there is. When I read those words (they popped up in my Facebook memories), I want to hug that version of myself and say “It’ll be ok. You’re gonna solve this.”

The answer was simple in the end. I stopped thinking about what my body looked like, and instead thought about what it could do.

I started lifting weights. Seriously heavy ones. Not for what they would make me look like, but for the challenge of picking up more each time. Seeing how I could push my body. Building it bit by bit. Doing more than I thought I ever could.

And somehow, the obsession with fat faded away. I suppose there were other factors. I got older and more confident. I went through a major break-up that made me reinvent my life. Things like that help you reshape your priorities.

As a bookish kid who didn’t play sports, because I was bad at them, it’s been an interesting process to fall in love with one. My podiatrist says he sees a lot of ‘adult onset athletes’ come through his door. I chuckled at that.

So I am not saying everyone should go out and start powerlifting. I am conscious of the evangelicism of converts. I am simply saying it worked for me.

It works for other people too, in other sports. Finding a sport you love can help reframe the way you look at your body. It can change it from from enemy to comrade. It’s there in the trenches with you, pushing you through, helping you to get the 100kg deadlift you never thought was possible.

There is a bigger lesson for me though. I find it comforting and liberating to know that you can free yourself of a long-ingrained mindset. It’s not easy or quick, but you can chip away at a mental loop you’re stuck in. What wonderful thing to know.

  1. it’s valuable to have something that helps you to define yourself to yourself in a positive way. As long as you can still love yourself if the defining factor is taken away – I was the guy who was going to be doing triathlons in his seventies till I couldn’t run any more because of bung knees or swim because of ears that couldn’t take the water. But once you have found the positivity of self-definition, you can hopefully tap into some other replacement obsession to fill the void that would otherwise be there. Now I am the bike tragic instead.

    • That’s a good point. Hopefully I will be lifting for a long time, but even if I don’t I will find something else.

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