Your Body…Naked

June 26, 2008

Published in the March 1, 2007 Edition of QSaltLake.

It was five years ago I started taking care of my body and exercising regularly. I began by walking. I walked from my house down to the local park and did some laps. Over the last five years I’ve purchased (and consistently used) a gym membership, started skiing, mountain biking, running, doing pilates, practicing yoga, lifting weights, cycling, swimming, and most recently kickboxing. 

In the beginning I was working out because I wanted other people to find me attractive. That lasted about four months. The approval of others is a bad reason to do anything, but when it comes to exercising, which is something that takes life-long dedication, it’s an especially bad idea. So I quickly shifted my motivation. I started to exercise for me. I liked the way it made me feel. Results did not come quickly, but they came, most of them would have probably been imperceptible to anyone other than me, and the most positive among them had nothing to do with my physical appearance.

Notwithstanding those results, I’m still acutely aware of every one of my physical flaws. But I decided shortly after getting a gym membership that I did not want to be one of those men that gets dressed underneath his towel or in the bathroom stall because he doesn’t want to be seen naked. Maybe I should clarify that I am not an exhibitionist in that way and I don’t particularly enjoy some of the gross stares I get from those men that seem to live in the steam room and vacation in the showers. But I don’t hide my body in the locker room. Nobody should be ashamed of their body, no matter what it looks like. In a society that tells women that they’re too big and men that they’re too small no matter how big or small they are, it’s a wonder anyone has the courage to show their non-airbrushed face in public.

The other day I was getting a massage and the therapist said that she could tell I was an athlete. I didn’t respond because I don’t really like to make conversation when I’m getting a massage; I’d rather just lay there. But I was totally surprised by her comment because I am not an athlete. It doesn’t matter how much I run, lift, swim, cycle, or kick box, athletes to me will always be those boys in high school that I had nothing in common with. 

The reality of my situation is this; I’m 6’3” tall and 180 pounds on a full stomach and rounding up. It doesn’t matter how hard I hit the weights, my genetics do not allow me to put on a lot of bulk. I will always be longer than I am wide. I’ve come to accept that reality -acceptance that I believe has come because I’m trying to do the best with the body and genetics I’ve been given. 

My last boyfriend was always so floored with how comfortable I was being naked around him. He acted like he’d never dated anyone that let him explore their body. That kind of comfort level with another human being is amazing; it’s been rare for me, and it’s one of the things I miss the most about being in a relationship. If you have someone in your life that you get naked with on a regular basis, then I hope that you feel that kind of freedom with them. Otherwise, you’re missing one of the safest experiences an intimate relationship has to offer.

The next time you’re walking down the street and you see someone that you think is attractive, beautiful even, remember this; that person may very well think that they’re the ugliest thing to walk the earth. They may be completely unhappy with their body and even their life as a whole. If you can be happy with your body and your life you’ll be doing better than a good majority of the strangers that surround you.

In recent years I’ve been able to say very honestly that I’m happy with where I’m at physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, in my education, etc. I’m happy with where I am in life not because I’m where I want to be, but because I’m moving in the direction that I want to go, and that is something that we all have the power to do. The world never stops and you’re always going somewhere; just make sure it’s somewhere you want to go.

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