Roger Marolt: Throwing in the towel on physical appearance
Toweling off after a shower the other day I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and took a longer look than planned. Chalk it up to a mini holiday break. And, thank goodness for all the snow lately. I’ve been devouring fudge, cookies, and candies these weeks of jolliness, but the abundance of calories consumed seems to have been burned up in clearing my driveway, as if each shovelful of heavy snow is a scoop of anaerobic coal chucked onto my metabolic bonfire. I am probably delusional. In lieu of believing I hear reindeer landing on the roof, I choose to distort my reflection into what I want to see rather than accepting the hard facts before my eyes. We never get an honest side or rear view of ourselves. When we have to confront these angles in photos, we blame the light.
I did realize two things staring at the bag of bones on the other side of the glass: First, I have a pair of hernias. Second, I don’t really give two slices of fruit cake about how I look. I definitely cared about my physical appearance beginning in high school all the way through college. I cared at the time I got married. I might have cared a little when my children got old enough to be embarrassed by my presence. But, I can’t pinpoint when I stopped caring about how my body looks. I admit, I still care about my face. I don’t know why. It is probably the part of our bodies we can change the least without poisonous injections or irreversible dermatological techniques.
Maybe it is the season that makes us think more of our bodies and humanness in general. Birthdays are the obvious reminder of age, but New Year’s Eve is the annual time when we all feel a year older together. No wonder we celebrate. By the looks of things around our globe, this may be the last thing we will admit we have in common. It is a point made without any debate whatsoever.
Try as we might in utter futility to politicize the flipping of the calendar, we have certainly figured out how to make a buck off of it. It’s easy since the target market is everyone who is getting older. The low-hanging fruit of making money off of this universal process is fitness. We can’t help asking, “Am I really getting older if I have firm buns?”
The resolution to look better at next year’s bash by finally getting in shape has topped the list for the past 6 million years. There’s not a close second, except if you count giving up drinking, but that is usually just the Champagne talking at midnight and ends with a bloody mary on New Year’s Day during halftime of the first bowl game, usually around 10:30 a.m.
My digital news feed is full of stories this time of year featuring workouts with shiny new home gym equipment or trendy club memberships to round glutes, shape calves, define abs, inflate pecs, mold delts to resemble knotted rope, and generally convert you into a comic book super hero.
I think I have learned over the years why the approaches to fitness involving goals of looking better rarely work. While there undoubtedly are ways to replace your beer belly with a six-pack, it is going to take time and noticeable results come at a glacial pace. The return on strenuous effort expended toward a complete physical makeover is akin to trying to retire rich by investing in bank CDs. You might as well stuff every ounce of your resolve into a mattress, or onto the sofa in front of the tube, as the case may be.
What energy I once expended trying to make myself look better, I have grown to find better spent trying to feel more vigorously alive. I’m not talking about an endorphin high. I am talking about making my arms and legs do more, hurt less, and recover faster. This seems obvious now and should have been all along. For some reason, it wasn’t.
If I can sprint 20 yards and snag a frisbee out of thin air, force a few young guns to catch their breaths chasing me down Ridge of Bell, or surprise my nephews with a bullet pass thunking into their chests 30 yards downfield, my mission is accomplished. The old man still has it! I think that’s a pretty good look.
Roger Marolt has been accepted for who he is by those he loves and is now free to pursue a career as an uncle who throws a mean round of batting practice. firstname.lastname@example.org
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