There’s so much bullshit in the fitness world today. As men we hear about six pack abs, being shredded, a beast, and about a dozen other adjectives that play to our emotions about what they think we should be. We are sold things like low-fat yogurt, healthy salads, in the next exercise fad like jumping around our living room to a DVD. We are conditioned to believe that just long distance running will make us healthy, and that lifting makes us big dumb oafs and is only for the vain meat heads.
We are told to mind her manners, don’t speak out of turn, always be respectful, and that it’s wrong to assume that we are any different than women, because if we mention that a man is different, we are met with bucket of feminist slogans thrown in our face.
Deep down every man remembers growing up with G.I. Joe, watching the avengers, seeing our role models and idols be real men, heroes, stand tall with a broad chest and shoulders, be able to perform speeds of strength, valor, and be the idol that we’ve always looked up to.
Yet somehow there is a disconnect between what we are told to do, what we believe we should do, and being the actual man that we should be.
So when we look to become fit, or in shape, as it’s called now, we buy in to these programs, exercise fads, and diet plans that aren’t in line with being the man we want to be, and don’t do anything to make us feel manly, proud, or confident.
The magazines and advertisements show us hairless oiled up men with only an ounce of body fat, spray tanned and focused on the peak of their biceps, or how many ab lines they can have.
What happened to being he-man? What happened to personifying the lumberjack, a modern day Paul Bunyan beard or not, just standing tall with a proud chest, axe by his side, knowing he has what it takes to face life head on.
It doesn’t take hours in the gym, it takes being primal, releasing aggression through lifting heavy objects, resistance training, learning your limits, finding out what we’re made of so that we can be the man we want to be.
I’m not suggesting that all men to become powerlifters, or even be competitive in strength sports at all. Lifting heavy is relative, I don’t care if it’s 100 or 600 pounds, if it’s challenging, you should be there. It doesn’t matter how many reps you’re doing for the day, but tasking yourself with picking it up the right way, over and over, then hitting another exercise to build your body, and then challenging yourself with a conditioning portion that makes you wonder why you started, but you pull through, and learn a bit more about yourself, your resolve, and your willingness to put your head down and work. This can’t be taught, this is a virtue that is learned, and earned, and it takes finding your limits and living there for a brief glimpses of the edge where you’re not sure you can stand for long, but you hold steady, and you come out the other side a better man than when you started.
Do this often.
A few days a week at first, then maybe almost everyday. Learn to love the process of bettering yourself, and take the lessons from it to your life where you can be proud of your accomplishments, your steadfastness and commitment to a task, and let it show you and remind you that you’re a man of integrity, you are your own hero, you stand tall and proud and act accordingly, you’re not as concerned with your body fat percentage as you are your knowledge that you’re capable, and you start to resemble those GI Joe’s you used to play with so long ago.
Form follows function, if you train to ward off belly fat, in a constant state of fear of losing the battle of the waistline, you will be the man that runs a few 5K road races, sticks to “heart healthy” whole grain cereals for breakfast, and has tried gluten free veganism with his wife for a miserable week before, only to gorge on pizza and oreos washed down with a diet coke on friday night.
If you’re the opposite end of the spectrum, and you care about being tough, resilient, in charge, and in control of who you are, and proud of it, you train to make your body that way, and you eat real food to fuel it. Sure you have your share of vegetables, but also meat from ethical sources, black coffee and cold water, you’re not worried about watching your carbs, because you don’t eat like a child, and if you want buttered baked potato you’re going to have it.
Understand that this is way of men. This is how a man whose character is important to him conducts himself, he is not only an example of integrity, loyalty, and kindness, but also a pillar of strength, durability, and steadfast resolve.
Be the man you looked up to as a boy, stand tall, don’t buy into the garbage and the propaganda meant to sell us the gadgets and slim quick plans that emasculate our need to be proud.
Lift for a purpose, for your physical stature and abilities, and for your mental fortitude and confident.
It is better to be the warrior on a garden, than a gardener at war.