Body Shame from a Male Perspective

So it has been a while since I posted last. Several weeks as a matter of fact.

I can chalk it up to being crazy busy. I am in a transition in my life which will leave me with a lot of decisions to make on where to go from here.

But that is another post for another day.

I have had something on my mind since I participated in the Ironman 70.3 Florida a few weeks ago and then an interesting thing happened in the bloggersphere that is related.  Allow me to set the stage:

The Florida half-iron was a tough race. It all but broke me, both physically and mentally. But there was one thing that happened that I didn’t really talk about.

I was about a quarter mile from the finish line. I was trying to run, but all my body could really muster was a tortured shuffle. There were a handful of spectators on the sideline, one of which was a child looking for high fives. He was probably not much older than 4 or 5. I gave him a high five and as I did his eyes went really wide and he pointed at me with his other hand. He started to say something but his mother very quickly put her hand over his mouth and starting telling him “No!”  I am not 100% sure what had just happened, but I had an idea.

I felt like it was confirmed for me when I saw my race photos.

3xMe

The above montage does not actually capture what I saw. I picked those pictures because they don’t show the roly-poly-ness that I am still dealing with after losing weight. I hate it. And sometimes it makes me hate myself. Honesty first, right?

Maybe I am the only one that sees it this way, but I can’t help but see a stay-puff marshmellow man running.

0678_024569

I wrote a post a long time ago about wearing the Apron. Please go read that post. I just re-read it and realized that I have come far yet still have far to go… 

I still deal with a lot of self-loathing over my body. After losing over 100 pounds I am still not at my ideal weight and I carry  A LOT of loose skin and flab around my belly and lower mid-section. It makes my pants fit weird and is totally embarrassing to me.  I have a good feeling that the child on the course in Florida was pointing out my flabby bits because, hey, children are unabashed in their honesty. I don’t hold it against him. I hold it against me. Maybe I am just imagining it or I am so self-conscience about it that I was seeing something that wasn’t there. But it is what I feel.

So there it is. I am not happy with myself. Sometimes I feel like my whole success in losing weight is overshadowed by my continued discomfort in my own skin.

But then something happened a couple of weeks after the race. You may have heard about Brooke Birmingham and the awesome fuss she raised when Shape Magazine wouldn’t accept a picture of her in a swimsuit after her incredible weight loss journey. Here is the pic that caused all of the fuss:

brooke-birmingham

Brooke was brave enough to tell the world that her success in weight loss far “outweighed” what society may see as unsightly. She basically told Shape magazine that if they didn’t want to show her as she was as an encouragement to others in the same place then she didn’t want to be associated with their magazine. Bitchin bold move! I love the fact that she caused such a ruckus and a stir because she was able to overcome an issue that I was and still am struggling with.  She is so much braver than I am and I am thrilled about it.

Brooke SHOULD be proud of what she has done. And I SHOULD be proud as well. But the truth is, I am still struggling with it.   I just wanted to let you know about it.

Thank you Brooke for your boldness and honesty.

It is an inspiration.

I think that with time I will be healed from my own mental issues with myself. I hope so anyway.  I just have to remember how far I have come. I have to keep in mind that I am a new person with new habits and a new lease on life. I can do things now that I have never been able to do and I have beaten this illness back.

If I can overcome the physical obstacle of obesity then I will be able to overcome the mental obstacle as well. Until then, I will keep pressing forward.

 

 

 

 

17 comments to Body Shame from a Male Perspective

  • Yes!! Thank you for your honesty & candor. I love following your progress & look forward to your posts!

  • Tiger stripes baby, tiger stripes (stretch marks). I have been the same weight for almost 2 years now. Aggravating!! Especially with all the training I do and eating paleo 90% of the time. YOU R A ROCKSTAR and keep keeping it real.

  • *hugs, claps, and snaps* I love this post Hank. You really showed us a lot of your soul and I can imagine it was tough to write.

    You are incredible and so is Brooke. Regardless of what your bodies look like, think about what your body has DONE. Most people, even most athletes, aren’t going to do an Ironman 70.3. You saw the kid’s reaction in the crowd, but you never know who you may have impacted whose reaction you did not see. There could be someone else out there who was like you were a few years ago, spectating… maybe watching a spouse or loved one… and seeing you out there could inspire them even if their face didn’t show it. It could even be years down the road. Even with blogging, you just never know who is reading (most of em don’t comment) and what kind of impact it could have.

  • Love your honesty. I have bits that hold me back too, but you are awesome. I have a long way to go, reading this helps me see I’m not alone. Thank you

  • Nita

    And the truth shall set you free! 🙂

    You’ll soon be arriving at a crossroads where there will be no more lookin’ back….only to what’s ahead…..to where you see yourself as we see you…..not as the “former fat” guy, but as the crazy, talented, adventurous, healthy, faith-full, devoted husband and daddy that you are.

    Oodles of love. <3

  • Congrats on your ironman! The first thing I see in my race pics is my stomach, not the happy smile of the experience. I’m working on seeing the second, because I suspect I’m the only one that my stomach bothers

  • Love this…truly from the heart and honest. I am also at 100 lbs lost and am struggling with the excess that is left over…thank you for your words and letting others know we are not alone.

  • All I see is a man who rocked an Ironman! Kudo’s to you!!!

  • Even after losing 80+ lbs and being somewhere below 12% bf now I still struggle w this daily. I know for me that it comes from a fear of going back. I see a roll in a bad picture and I get scared thinking I might go back to my former self. Someone who wasn’t happy with who they were. So rather than bask in the glory of my successes, I dwell in the possibility of my potential failures. It’s stupid. And it’s a stupid cycle. It’s hard to get past. It’s hard to be happy with yourself. I wish I knew the answer. I do think you are pretty damn awesome though

  • Thank you for your post. It’s comforting to know that in the world of “perfect” fitness blogs, I am not alone!

  • Sarah
    Twitter: BubblyHeart

    You may never get over it. And if that’s the case, plastic surgery is viable alternative. My front side doesn’t matchup backside, but clothes got better and I got back that head space the jiggly front took up. It was constant, leaning over a counter, getting dressed, in the bath and on and on. Waited nearly five years into maintenance before I couraged up and looked into surgery. Best move ever, besides losing more than what I weigh now.
    I understand your struggle. We do so much good for ourselves and are left with a body that can be even harder to love than the one we escaped. Wishing you peace.

  • Kimberly @ Healthy Strides
    Twitter: healthy_strides

    Yes. So much yes. And yes for hearing it from a male perspective.

    My abdomen (upper and lower) is all sorts of jacked from losing 115+ pounds, and I hate that I don’t look the way I “should.” But it’s a battle scar of sorts except I don’t have a rad story the way other people do. I am 99% sure that one day I’ll have it cut off because I worked hard and deserve a good body.

  • Janice- The Fitness Cheerleader
    Twitter: fitcheerldr

    Congrats on finishing Ironman 70.3!! That is awesome!

  • Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail)
    Twitter: DarwinianFail

    I love this post. Thank you for your honesty.
    I just want to say that you are a real inspiration. Fitness and weight loss isn’t always pretty and awesome. It takes HARD work. But I think the fact that you are now doing Half Ironman’s like nobody’s business is a sign of how far you have come!

  • Sheri

    You’re so awesome! I started running years ago because I wanted to lose some weight and “look like a runner.” I ran 5ks, 10ks, halfs, and a couple full marathons, but it never happened for me the way I had hoped. Cellulite thighs, jiggly upper arms, some lose skin on the tummy….I spent some years hating on it all, and myself. I won’t lie and say I am totally in love with what I see in the mirror today, but in my mid 40’s now and as a mother of 2 young daughters, I realized it was just time to get over it!! (smiles) I want my girls to learn that awesome comes from the inside, and the people you want in your life will see it no matter what the outside looks like. Hope you come to terms and find peace. You are amazing!!

  • Hank, when are you going to post again? It’s been so long!

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