“I wish I could eat whatever I want and not put weight”, is what people often tell me, in a “you should count your blessings and shut up” sort of way. Which is one of the reasons for which I wanted to start writing about fitness and my own journey (besides the fact that I am convinced I write well): I often believe that the fitness conversation is skewed too much towards people trying to lose weight and avoids a considerably large proportion of the population trying to do the opposite thing.
At the beginning
In my youth (which seems such long time ago), I had always been seen as a scrawny kid – perhaps simply by virtue of being rather tall (184 cm). Most of my relatives are on the bigger side of life, which is seen completely acceptable by them, so much so that I would often be picked on or even somewhat mocked for having a more svelte figure.
Skipping meals was easy, and especially given the rather lack of cooking abilities in some of said relatives, I would often prefer not to eat much or any of the horrid thing they called food. My genes were made for surviving a zombie apocalypse, as I could easily go for a few days without eating much at all – tho I rarely did.
I eventually got into martial arts during high school – and being quite a competitive person, I became interested solely in performing as well as I could there. As such, I quite despised the concept of going to the gym, at least from a aesthetic perspective. Pretty muscles are not necessarily useful muscles, and especially in martial arts (and sports in general), having too much of the wrong kind can often impede you.
The struggle of being vain
Moving to the UK had changed two main things. I became much more in control, and interested, in making my own food. There was such a large diversity of ingredients here compared to Romania, and I learned to love so many foods that I used to dislike back home (mushrooms, broccoli, fish – I will literally eat anything here).
I was also finally exposed to the gay scene, which really puts pressure on people to look better. Which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing. I had always preferred the muscular types, and I was just incentivized to become more like that myself as it tends to be something quite glorified by my community (to some ridiculous extents at time).
The problem remained that I could really eat anything that I wanted without gaining weight. And that might seem a dream for people who are trying to lose weight, but it is not for me. I don’t want to eat 100 bags of crisps a day – and I don’t. I don’t stuff myself with chocolate or cake, and I can quite easily control cravings. Yet whenever I tell some people that I’m unhappy with my body, that it is so difficult for me to put on weight, I get a sort of sigh and then a rant of how I am so blessed.
My body issues were often discounted (unless I spoke to other skinny people which completely understood me). I understand that some people find it quite difficult to control their cravings. But on the other hand, I have to stuff my face to the point of being sick at times in order to get the calories I need to bulk. Going on holidays almost always means I will come back around 1 kilo lighter (which, again, is not my goal).
One of the most important things I have learned is that you need to carefully consider what your fitness goal is and both the downsides and upsides of it is. And then, consider whether that is what makes you happiest. This thinking was very much prompted by an article in which Hugh Jackman explains how he could never maintain the crazy diet/fitness programme he had to get Wolverine’s body.
What is it that you want to achieve? How hard is it, and is it something sustainable? There are so many questions that I ended asking myself. Different people have very different bodies and ways we react to anything from exercise to calories. For some they put on muscle with the snap of the finger – for most of us that is not the case.
Let’s say that you want to lose weight but that is at the cost of you having a miserable diet – does the body you achieve bring enough worth for the sacrifices? If it does, go for it. If not, then why are you doing it? Surely, the goal is to be happy. We need to understand that we cannot have them all: health, good looks, ability to eat whatever whenever (or never).
A good example is people having suggested I take steroids (a rather common occurrence in the gay community). Which I really did consider – and that process was important. I decided that it would indeed help me gain muscle and be happier about my looks. But it came at some costs that I am not comfortable with. The long term risks of them, the fact that they often cause mood swings (I value my mental stability quite much). But making that decision meant I wouldn’t just wonder – I knew it wasn’t something I was willing to do. If it work for you, I am happy – people need to do what works for them, what makes them happy, and if you are going to be judgemental go somewhere else.
It also taught me to experiment. We are all different, and we know so little about how food interacts with our bodies. Some diet you tried and didn’t work? Try something else. Don’t stop and start complaining how hard it is for you to be slim and then eat another fucking muffing.
Actually, don’t complain. I mean do, every now and then, to let off steam. But otherwise you shouldn’t because you are either happy with how you look and what you are doing for that, or you aren’t in which case maybe you should just change things up.