A few weeks ago, a friend of mine started joining me on a few of my 5+ mile jaunts. One night, we started talking about fitness, physicality, and our personal goals in relation to both. It’s not something that I usually talk about in conversation with other people, and I offered up more than I expected I would. I don’t want to run the risk of repeating in depth something that I’m pretty sure I’ve written about before, having been in the “large” body type camp since I was a child, so I’ll stick to the point: I’ve never been skinny or even physically fit for that matter, but I have always been comfortable in my own body. Even though I’ve wanted to change that ever since I hit my early 20’s, that feeling of complacency kept me from feeling an imperative need to implement that change. As we shared about our goals and experiences, I mentioned that my goal was to hit a target weight range between 165-170 lbs.
The few times that I’ve shared that tidbit with people, I’ve been met with surprise, as if going that low would be clinically unhealthy for someone with my build. This time was no exception, though the reaction was more one of curiosity rather than that of disapproval. To prove my point, I lifted my shirt up and pinched the excess fat around my midsection between my thumb and forefinger. That’s when I got the big reaction I had initially been anticipating; he was shocked at how much fat I was able to pull away from my body, to which I responded “see, I’m not stocky, I’m just…fat.” He told me he could see why I set my target as low as I have, and added that he thought it was really commendable that I was able to recognize and admit to that self-assessment.
Up until last year, I’m inclined to say that I bought into the line of thinking I’ve heard before, that I’m acceptably proportioned in relation to my body frame. I can’t say for sure whether it’s something that’s happened with age or whether it’s a result of the reconnection with my high personal standards, but since last year, I haven’t felt that feeling of comfort with being in my own skin.
Even if I were to take a photo of myself and include it with this post, I think most people would be inclined to think that I’ve developed a form of body dysmorphia. Yet, being the person that has to go through life in this body, I can confidently say that that’s just because I carry myself pretty well. If I were to take a photo framed to focus in on my abdominal body fat squeezed between my fingers, I’d then expect people to tell me to keep at my work and kill the extra weight for good. Last year when I started feeling daily discomfort in simply existing, I invested about $15 in a pair of body fat calipers. For anyone that doesn’t know what those are, they’re essentially a mix of a ruler and fat pinching tongs that help calculate body fat percentage. When I bought them last year, I could even fit them around the isolated mound of fat in the target measurement area.
Earlier this week, I found the set of calipers as I was cleaning my bedroom closet. In an uplifting sign of progress, I found that I can now actually use them on myself, even if the readout is still less than ideal. Presently, I’m astonished at how long I managed to go without this feeling of dissatisfaction settle in. And I don’t just feel it – I actually see it too. The more fat I burn off through my 5+ mile runs, the more my true body type begins to show itself. I’m not stocky or broad as most people seem to think. If I were in my target weight range and had a decent amount of muscle definition, I’d classify more along the lines of “average” or “athletic”.
So now, even though it makes me feel like utter crap some days, I’m glad that I started feeling uncomfortable with my body – it’s a constant reminder and motivator to physically get myself to where I should have been all along.