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Honor Your Body

04/07/2011

It’s where your soul lives.

For the past 20 years or so, I’ve been in the habit – more or less ­– of working out at the Downtown Nashville Y before going to the office on weekday mornings. The amount of energy I’ve put into this effort has waxed and waned over the years, but since I’ve been out, I’ve been much more consistent and focused. Some mornings I have to drag my tired ass in there, but I’m always glad when I do.

I stay with this routine – against a fair amount of internal resistance – for a couple of reasons. I’ll admit that – in part, at least ­– this is about looking my best. But there are other, larger reasons.

As far as physical appearance goes, it helps. By the luck of the genetic draw, I got “slim” genes, so I don’t have to work as hard as some folks do to keep the flab under control. But I do have to work at it. Five days a week at the gym hasn’t totally eliminated the love handles, but it has made them smaller. On top of that, it’s added a bit of definition to the non-flab areas. I’m every bit of 59 years old, and I’m no beauty, but I’m okay with the way I look. And that’s a good thing.

But there’s more to it than looking as good as I can. The larger concept is about honoring myself.

Here’s what I mean: The body is the container the “self” (soul, spirit, whatever – I’m not picky) lives in, and I believe my “self” deserves a nice place to live. I try to keep my residence in good shape – keep the bathrooms clean and the windows washed, keep the HVAC system in good shape, get leaks in the roof repaired – and I want to do the same for my body. Failing to take good care of the house your physical body lives in, says something about the way you view yourself. Same thing with the body your self lives in.

Regular workouts keep me flexible, keep my blood pressure low, keep my resting pulse rate low – in short, they help keep me healthy. And they help keep my attitude positive. That last one is a biggie. No matter what I feel like going into a workout, I’m always in a better mood afterwards.

And all this is very important for those of us who come out late. Most of us have spent a good bit of our lives feeling out of place, out of synch with the rest of the world. Not quite right. For a long time, I assumed there was something wrong with me. I didn’t like my body. I didn’t like my face. I didn’t like myself. Now that I’m out, and I realize that I’m perfectly normal, I can like myself in ways that weren’t possible before.

Many of us who come out late are still dealing with a lot of negative emotions – guilt over leaving a spouse, anger at having lied to ourselves for so long, shame at having lied to others for so long, sadness and loss over years spent living as someone other than who we really are. There are lots of possibilities for negativity.

Taking care of your body is good for all of you – physical and mental. It doesn’t mean you need to turn into some muscled-up Adonis – nor in my case is that even possible – any more than all of us can live in a multi-million-dollar mansion. It’s about honoring yourself as God (or who/whatever you believe in) made you, by being the best that you can be. Physically healthy and mentally positive.

It feels so great to be out! I want to live this way a long time, and enjoy the results of the work I’ve done to get myself here.

I deserve it.

So do you.

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