gave me unrealistic expectations

anonymous asked:

Hi Andrew! I want to first say that it's awesome how you are working on being healthy and happy with your body! Fitness is such a personal journey and I'm glad you're on it. I started following you because I really loved how you are so unique in the sense that you never subscribed to traditional structures of masculinity or femininity - you're just you. And as a nonbinary person myself, I've always admired that you reject toxic masc culture. I would like to ask you: (continued in second ask)

“I would like to ask you: now that you have been comfortably immersed in your own fitness routine, how do you continue to reject toxic masculinity stereotypes that focus more around fitness aesthetic and “bulking up for gainz bro?” The male-presenting fitness industry is so dominated by it and I see so many queer people gravitate toward that toxic culture of “u gotta get big muscles bruh” instead of focusing on the real objective - feeling healthy and happy. Curious to know how you combat that!“

Hey there!! First I would like to say I appreciate this thorough and thoughtful ask to the extreme. What a wonderful thing to be able to discuss with another like minded person.

You’re absolutely correct that the fitness industry is dominated by toxic masc culture. To be honest, that held me off in many different ways from working out in a gym and establishing a routine. So much of the media, advertisements, or popular persons within the fitness industry are centered around competitiveness, body shaming, and unhealthy trends designed to make people self conscious for not sharing the same mind set or for not being at the same place physically.

That coupled with being trans and already feeling less than because of my body gave me an awful mindset and unrealistic expectations for myself–making what little exercise I could do very uncomfortable and unfulfilling.

When it comes to avoiding falling into toxic masc fitness culture, I think the real work is internal. Often when I see people in the gym who are rude, showy, or judgmental, they usually are that way because they are projecting. In order to feel like they have value they create a false persona that they believe has value and that usually means building up their image, judging others based on not having similar attributes, and generally being very cringey to be around. People can definitely just be that way, but I think a lot of it is derived from self hate, insecurity, and fear of not having worth.

What I feel is different in my mindset from others mindsets is that my goals, my body, the way I exercise does not define my worth nor does it lead to my ultimate fulfillment. When I work out I think about how much I enjoy the movement, enjoy learning, want to feel good, and want to eventually aid others in the same pursuit. Anything I could be tomorrow or a month from now or years from now I already am in a sense. What I ultimately value for my life is hard work, passion, commitment, and a way to help others with all I do. So if I can come to the gym, accomplish my small goals that lead to my larger goals, I don’t need much else. I don’t need to make fun of others, compare myself to them, or worry that I’m not living up to the things that they need for fulfillment.

Fitness can absolutely be a lifestyle for some people but for many people it is simply an outlet or a tool for feeling healthy and healing their body.

People go to the gym for so many reasons–real life people with their own unique livelihoods and experiences and desires and goals and passions. And I think that needs to be respected.

Exercise and fitness aren’t about doing what others are doing. But finding what works for you, what is safe for you, and what helps you towards the goals you have while taking into account other aspects of your life.

I’ve worked at my gym for a few months now and there are so many people who are just doing their little thing and not looking to do a bodybuilding show or to build a fan base or to do anything professionally or commercially within the industry. We have 81 year-old Betty who argues with her trainer about him not putting her on machines and Andrea who has MS and does her best everyday to stay active even when she’s really hurting and Michael who comes with his wife and sneaks a preworkout sample whenever she goes to do cardio and Josh who is the nicest dude ever who’s training for his first show in June and just so many real life people, you know?

Everyone is just doing their best and doing what makes them happy and I think that’s the real goal. Life is way too short to be worried about living anyone else’s way or conforming to an idea that makes you miserable. We aren’t here to be cookie cutter shapes of What Others Think We Should Look Like. We are here to live our weird and fun and lovely lives on our own terms.

Anyways! I hope that answers your question. And I appreciate the time you took to ask it so much.

(Ps. Everything I said also applies to people who don’t work out, people of all body shapes, people of varying health.)

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