By Nick Berry
The BMI has never been by friend.
Being a skinny fat kid through adolescence was torture. I exercised, biked, ran, hiked, swam, played sports and chased girls. I just couldn’t be skinny like those boys I was surrounded by. Yes, boys do look at other boys unless I’m just some freak heterosexual that singularly compared myself to other boys while all the other heterosexuals didn’t. Comparison of the physical body starts very early.
How did I know, as an adolescent, that my body composition was insufficient in the eyes of my peers? No one told me I had a gut. It never stopped girls from liking me. I knew I wasn’t perfect and I seemed to create the idea of perfect all by myself.
Beer guts and butt cracks were a normal thing to see while growing up. My mom telling me to clean my plate while already pouring on seconds are some of my fondest memories of eating. I guess I need to mention the drawer full of Twinkies and Ding Dongs given to me as after school snacks too. My tribe, clan and family looked just like every other male from my small rural community.
In today’s society people would look at those pictures and call their physiques dadbods. I looked at them and just considered them real man bods.
At some point there was a dramatic change in men’s appearance. Jack Lalane touched a part of America but not the small farming community I am from.
Growing up my mother would buy me Husky jeans while all the other kids got to wear name brand jeans that didn’t expand around the waist and rear. I hated this brand of jeans but I assume I hated being different from my peers. I must admit I was by no means an obese child due to outdoor activities and numerous sports but no amount of physical exercise could remove my “belly.” I hated my belly and to tell you the truth probably hate it more today than I did then.
I grew up with four stations on TV.
There were a couple workout shows that I would watch with Susan Somers, but I was not doing her prescribed exercises but those that seemed more fitting. With the invention of cable, DirecTV and dishtv, inspired a flood of fitness programs like P90X, Insanity, 30 day this and 20 minute that. As an insomniac, I had the privilege of watching every single infomercial and seeing everyone’s dramatic transformation.
Could I look like that for three easy installments of $33.00? The TV became a breeding ground for self-loathing and unattainable want. I say unattainable because genetics plays a major part in how the average body can change. I say unattainable because most of us read, write, work, care for children, eat ice cream and stare blankly at infomercials wanting something more. Will that six pack make the women at the office swoon during lunch break?
So I tried it. I bought a program.
I completed the intense daily workouts while being encouraged by a man on TV. I strictly ate only prescribed foods. I became ripped! I never was ripped enough because I was constantly comparing myself with someone else. I would watch Brad Pitt during “Fight Club” and then do some sit ups. My self-image—no matter how beautiful I made myself—was going to be tainted with the constant thoughts that someone is better and I’m wasn’t good enough. I was more concerned about pecs, biceps and abs than my internal self-image.
When will the image of myself in the mirror be not only okay but brilliantly beautiful?
Today I am capable of running, lifting and practicing yoga. I do these activities to nurture my mind, because at the age of 36 I finally realize that my mental well-being nurtures how I see myself in the mirror. I admit I’m 10 pounds overweight (okay maybe 15). Sorry, but I love to eat! I eat well while splurging whenever I feel like it. I do know my pants fit with a little room to spare.
I believe my self-image is a lot like the rest of my being. I have a positive self-image and I have a negative self-image. There’s a healthy balance.
I’m not vain nor am I self-loathing. I believe I am like every other human being. Some days I’m a 10 and some days I’m a 4 ½.
I am not fixed, but I’m brilliantly beautiful (just look)!
Nick Berry is an amateur writer of poetry and short stories. He is a special needs teacher in a rural, Southern Indiana community. When he is not writing or educating he is spending quality time with his three children, Sienna, Everett, and Elijah. They enjoy outdoor adventures and quality snuggling time watching T.V.
Photo: Dennis Di Laura/source
Editor: Dana Gornall