As a man in the second half of life, I’ve got to say that logically, staying in shape seems like it would be much easier than getting back into shape. And yet, I notice that once again, I’m getting back into shape.
And after doing this for decades and decades, I pretty much know what to do, what will work, how to do it. It still never seems to be easy or fun or that enjoyable dragging my ass out of the house whether to go to the gym, go to a yoga class, go to the beach or go for a hike. It’s a mental game for sure, one that I seem to be breaking even on, at best.
It gets harder to get started, harder to make the gains, harder to stretch that extra inch, harder to lose that last five pounds, harder to want to control what I eat, harder to motivate myself to care. “I’m older, I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to be that fit, no one expects it, I’m looking pretty good for my age.”
My motivation seems generally to be to avoid pain more than to seek pleasure. I seem to accumulate a few more aches and pains, a few more minor soft tissue injuries that never seem to entirely go away, a few more lumps of fat. And I worry sometimes that i’m becoming mildly arthritic, like my grandmother was. How can that be though? I can’t possibly be THAT old, can I?
So it would seem like a good idea to move my sorry ass around a bit more, stretch a bit more, keep the muscle mass up and the fat down. It seems like I only have two main motivations to get in shape, perhaps they are familiar ones to you, perhaps you have other ones.
First, I get disgusted with myself. I’m 6’3″ and my “healthy” weight (which means I like the way I look and feel) is usually between 195 and 205. According to actuary tables, I should be around 185 pounds or even less, which would look emaciated on my frame in my opinion. According to the Body Mass Index (BMI) I am overweight even when I feel “just right”. Since the “average” American male is overweight, I’m in good company, yet I prefer to trust my own body awareness on this one.
Anyway, my first motivation is that tiny bit of self-loathing. At my height I can carry a lot of weight and most people won’t notice or judge it. Like most of us though, I am my own worst critic.
The second motivation is related to where I am in the relationship world. When I’m dating or beginning a new relationship, I tend to want to look my best, ESPECIALLY if I’m going to be naked with someone new. Can anybody else relate to this?
Is this just me connecting to my overdeveloped feminine side, or can other men relate to this as well? Regardless, it is also a great motivating factor. However, I notice that once I’m solidly IN that new relationship, my healthy habits start to fade. I’d rather sleep in and hold my new love for an extra hour than hit the gym. I’d rather eat the less empowering foods that I crave and those special dinners we go to or that she prepares for us. I know it may sound like a conspiracy theory, but women truly seem to like to fatten me up. REALLY!
Sound familiar to anyone?
Very few people in my life seem to “get” my struggles, as I’m big and can “carry” a lot of weight. I’m not even sure what that means, yet I’ve heard it most of my life. “You’re big and can carry a lot of weight, no one will notice, it’s fine.” I’m not crying victim here though, this is my life, my body, my choices.
And it’s even more embarrassing because as a psychologist, I understand motivation, I understand most of MY issues around food and weight and I’m still at the effect of it from time to time. It’s “crazy”, as I can work out for two years straight (a few years back I went to yoga classes 6-7 days/week, I loved it as well as the impact on my body AND my soul) and then take off a week or two and not go back for a year.
So, putting this in writing, in front of my Passion Doctor community as well as the entire blogosphere, that I’m ready to get back in shape for the LAST time!
This post is the Part 1 on getting back in shape, where I’m sharing my personal observations and experiences. In Part 2, I reveal more of the challenges we face in getting back in shape in the second half of life and some recommendations. Click Here for Part 2.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear YOUR experiences and thoughts on how getting back in shape. Is it hard to get in shape for you? What are your challenges, insights, solutions?