Saturday, November 10, 2012

Explaining My Hypocrisy

Recently, I have lost over twenty pounds. I now hover between 236 and 240 depending on the day. I would like to get down to 230. I have Tweeted several times about how much better I feel about myself at this weight. I even mentioned that I can finally stand to look at myself in the mirror again naked. I recognize myself again. Sounds like I was experiencing some self-hate when I was walking around at 260. And that, as one friend pointed out, sounds like one of the female characters in my books that I deride for not loving themselves and he's right. It does. So, how do I explain my admonitions against women who complain about their weight and my call for them to love themselves and my own uncomfortableness with weight gain?

First, you must understand that I have spent the better part of my adult life in the low 200lb range. My fighting weight was normally around 225 to 229 and I'm 6'5"! I was 218 for my first amateur fight and was 215 for most of my amateur career. I weighed 226 for my first pro fight. That is quite lean for a man my size, but that was normal for me. I remember when I thought I was fat if I got above 230. Why? Because I was an athlete, a fighter, and weight gain, to me, meant I wasn't training hard enough. There are also different expectations for athletes. We are held to a different standard. Our bodies are a large part of our identities. Tell me that it would not completely shatter your image of me were you to see me waddle into a convention 20 or 30 pounds overweight?  Not an excuse, but an explanation. I certainly realize that I am not an athlete anymore. You don't need 18" biceps to write a novel, but once a fighter, always a fighter.

The other thing is that I did not choose to say fuck it and let myself gain weight. I suffered a knee injury that kept me from running for a couple years and I just could not find another form of cardiovascular activity I liked as much as running. Now that I've had surgery and I can run again, the weight is finally coming off, and I'm starting to look like my old self again. It feels good, especially at 42 and having been retired from competition for almost five years, to be almost back to the weight I was when I was an active fighter. Yes, there is some ego involved there.

And here's for a real moment of honesty. I have always thought that men should be muscular and lean. In my mind, women are soft. Men are hard. As much as I adore a voluptuous curvaceous woman and even find skinny women, or women without curves and jiggly parts,  somewhat less appealing (Yes, I said jiggly parts and you know what I mean,) I could not stand anything on me jiggling. Never could. Men should be hard.

This is not an opinion I came to over much deliberation. No thought at all went into forming this particular aesthetic. It's not something I can rationally defend or would want to. I would love to disabuse myself of this notion. It's one of those ideas you pick up over the course of your life and they stick in your head and you don't know where they came from or how they became a part of you. It's a prejudice of sorts. Fat on a man looks womanly to me. I know, I know, it's terrible. I am trying hard to shake that perception and I apologize to anyone and everyone who is offended. I certainly understand and I do think everyone should love themselves, men as well as women. Moving to Texas has certainly helped in that regard. What barbecue and Mexican food does to the human body should be criminal. But that particular aesthetic is surprisingly stubborn.

So, yes. I did have some serious issues with myself at 260, And yes, I realize that at 6'5" tall 260 lbs does not exactly look rotund. It just ain't me. I have been lifting weights since I was twelve. I have been eating healthy since I've been an adult, cooking for myself. It is part of who I am. I am a health nut, a gym-rat, a fitness geek. I have been for as long as I can remember and that is not likely to change. Does that mean that I look down on men who are not? Not at all. As I said, I think everyone, men and women, should love themselves, love their bodies, as they are. It's just not who I am. One day, I will have to accept that my body will never look at 40 or 50 or 60 the way it did in my twenties and thirties, but that day is not today.

I guess I should also apologize to any women who have been offended over the years by my posting about love of larger women. I certainly did not mean to exclude you or imply that you were not beautiful as well. I find all women beautiful and have dated women of every size and shape. I just have my preferences. But there are not many women I'd kick out of my bed. And there are no women I'd ever want to see down on themselves for not meeting someone else's  physical aesthetic. As long as you are healthy and happy, you are good. I just need to work on being as loving and tolerant with my own sex and my own self.