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Corporeal horizons

November 19, 2009

We started our weight lifting routine at the gym this morning, and I was halfway through a step-up/lunge move watching my leg muscles in the mirror when I was struck by a strong sense of apathy for it all. I saw my quads tense on each step. I noticed my knees looking about as nice as knees can look. I was conquering balance. Most importantly, I was simply satisfied. I was looking at my body objectively and I was satisfied with what I saw.

For the first time since I can remember I feel like I have achieved everything I hope to in terms of how my body looks. Yes, I can perhaps lose a few more pounds, or get stronger or faster, but my body looks the way it looks. I’m never going to have Madonna’s sinewy arms, Heidi Klum’s ridiculously long legs, or Gwen Stefani’s amazing six-pack. And I’m OK with that.

The trick now is how do I keep recommitting to going to the gym every day when my goals have to change from “look better” to … “X”? And what is “X” going to be? What’s going to keep me motivated? The minute visual changes ahead of me won’t get noticed by most people because out in the real world, we wear clothes that hide six-packs and biceps. I need new goals that are action-oriented and achievable. Athletes are known for what they can do with their bodies, not how they look. How they look is a by-product of their training, but ultimately it’s about how they perform. I need performance goals. I guess that’s why I was so captivated by the NYC marathon recently. I saw all these people looking like normal people doing this amazing physical feat. It was not about how they looked – they were all different shapes and sizes – this was about running 26.2 miles at a certain pace all at one time. It was about doing.

There is something to be said for being very Zen about it and for the ritual of going to the gym and going through certain motions for the sake of going through the motions. But I am an American raised on the ideas of capitalism and achievement and getting ahead. There’s no way I can get my butt on that treadmill without some kind of carrot/stick equation. I need to run faster, or at a higher level, or go for longer than I did the last time. I need to lift more weight, or do more reps. I’m not sure yet what my next fitness goal will be, but it won’t have anything to do with losing weight or fitting into smaller pants.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 23, 2009 8:41 pm

    Like Alexander the Great, you cry that there are no new worlds left to conquer.

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