I must have been bullied as a kid. I don’t remember it, and given that I was 6′ tall at 12 years of age, I struggled to imagine how it came about. But I must have been. How else could my body image be so bad?
Oh, I’m not hideous, I know that. I don’t think that. I’m not one of these fifteen year old girls you see on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram blogging their recovery from an eating disorder (poor loves). It’s not that bad. But it’s not good, and something I want to climb on top of as I lead myself through this health recovery journey.
I’m calling it health recovery, because there must have been a time when I was healthy. At school I played basketball a million times a week, almost – but not quite – having the vertical spring to be able to slam dunk (I peaked out at 6’2″, for those who are following closely). I swam in the summer – quite well, actually – and (shock horror) even enjoyed it. I don’t remember what my body looked like, or even how it felt, but there’s probably no doubt it looked fine and felt even better. Which is about what I’m aiming for now.
But my body now is not like those of the free-weights boys at the gym, and I have to admit, they intimidate me. Not because they’re scary, or dangerous. Not because they have tatts of their murdered first wives, or the warring South Pacific island their ancestors fought for. No, they intimidate me by their capability. Their strength.
Currently, I am a weakling. I cannot do ten push-ups. When I went for my induction at my gym, they took all the weight off a barbell for me to bench press, and I only managed three lifts with the empty barbell itself. I was doing sit ups with a medicine ball that might as well have been a ping pong ball. Maybe two.
While I’m slowly (very slowly) building strength, I admit that I feel awkward at the gym. Sure, I’m not Mr Puniverse, but for the other Masters of the Universe, they must see this dumpy old guy and wonder… WTF? How do you get to 38 and not be able to do ten push ups. Indeed, how do you?
It’s times like this… as you write these things for all the world to see… that you realise that it’s actually not about your physical fitness at all, is it? It’s all in your mind. All in my mind.
Why the hell should I feel intimidated by the Masters of the Universe? My war is not with them: it’s with me. With my own body. And, clearly, with my own mind.
That’s the war I think I need to win first.