Loving the Body: Size, Weight, Color, Age, Fitness, Happiness

WHOLE-fitnessIf the body is the reflection of the soul, I need some soul-searching. No… Wait… That’s not it.

Let’s try again. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my body since a very young age. And at 50, (See also: My 50-year-old Body: A Love Hate Relationship )

some things are out of my control, but my mental attitude isn’t. And as I am in the dating market again (that sounds creepy) I am trying to understand my relationship to my body again, in the same way I am trying to understand what I see as attractive. It’s a rocky road on both sides of my experience.

In the beginning I was born a happy white child in an affluent neighborhood in a sleepy Southern town. My mom, being a wonderful Southern belle, was also quite a cook. I grew up with that healthy and hefty build we sometimes refer to as big-boned.

It’s odd that we have all been programmed to love youthful sexiness as our measure of beauty. It’s odd and kind of messed up.

One of my joys in the early days of life was playing Pop Warner football. What was so amazing about it, besides loving the crash and boom energy of smashing into other boys at top speed, was this: I was literally at the top of the weight class. At one game, I had to walk around with a coach, spitting and trying to pee, so I could “make weight.” While this could’ve been humiliating, both the coach and I knew that my weight and strength was a huge advantage to our team. I made it in and scored a couple touchdowns to win the game.

Aside from the confidence and pride I had in my football dominance, I didn’t ever think about being fat, or big-boned.

Then came 7th and 8th grade girls. I began learning to use my confidence and strength, and I learned to suck in my stomach. I learned that skinnier was better. It worked for a while.

And I guess I never really realised I was unhappy with my body again, until I was in my forties and married with a kid. I looked down one day to discover that the stress eating at my crazy job, and my older metabolism had conspired against my big bones and created a ME that didn’t feel much like me. And walking around cussing and spitting  and peeing wasn’t going to get me back into shape.

But it’s hard to find the motivation. And your body doesn’t respond in the same ways it did when we were unlimited. And thus I’ve struggled between loving and hating my older body for some time. I’m starting to come out of it, now at fifty, but it’s still a long path. And it’s mostly mental.

Switching the focus for a second to women, and specifically women I find attractive, I can start to understand why body image has become such a huge industry and trap. It is easy to see the hyper-skinny models who are paraded before us and we automatically think THAT is what beauty is. They lie.

Sure, I can see the erotic potency of a teen ager in a bathing suit. Even if that teen ager is really a 20-ish starved model. I remember what that felt like, to see her in high school, and to aspire to be with someone that beautiful. But that was high school. And while I also am aware that the media pushes this version of sexy on all of us (even Cosmo covergirls look like teenagers) I am clear about my position: I AM NOT INTERESTED IN TEENAGED SEXUAL ENERGY.

As I am evaluating and learning to love my 50 year-old body, I am also aware of the 50 year-old women’s bodies in my range of sight. I have not had much time to look at them. I have experience with really only one such body, over the years. I loved all the changes in my then-wife’s body. I was into my older woman.

It’s odd that we have all been programmed to love youthful sexiness as our measure of beauty. It’s odd and kind of messed up.

we can suck in our stomachs early on, but we’re going to eventually see each other naked, I mean, that’s the goal. And sometimes, I’d prefer the lights are on.

I am reshaping my future and my body through hard work and constant awareness of diet, exercise, sleep, and happiness. And while I haven’t had much experience with “other” women, I look forward to that next relationship, so I can relearn what beautiful is, from this age.

We have been programmed to think skinny and young is the only measure of beauty. That’s kind of crazy, since my opportunity or desire to be with a twenty-year-old is near zero. I’m looking for a mom, who’s happy and radiant, and in her forties or early fifties. And I’m prepared to meet her halfway between the perfect body and working on it. We are in this for the long haul. And I guess, as over 50-ish people, we will always be “working on it.”

But let’s work on it together. And let’s drop the unreal standard of youth = beauty for BOTH OF US. Because we can suck in our stomachs early on, but we’re going to eventually see each other naked, I mean, that’s the goal. And sometimes, I’d prefer the lights are on.

I’ve got a lot more information these days about how the relationship part works. And while I thought I knew a lot about women, and courting, and sexiness, my research and study ended about 20+ years ago. I’m hungry for new discoveries. And resetting my field of study towards a more realistic match.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

Please check out my new site FitbyTech where I will explore this body/fitness/health issue in more detail.

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Image: global fitness media shoot, rance costa, creative commons usage

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2 thoughts on “Loving the Body: Size, Weight, Color, Age, Fitness, Happiness

  1. I’m happier now with my body than at any time in my life (except when I was 7 months pregnant and felt like a GODDESS)…
    unfortunately, that’s damning with faint praise!

    It’s tough to accept (much less rejoice in) our middle-aged bodies, thanks for reminding us that men worry about their figures too!

    keep up the great work

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