Lean with Envy

Why Do You Work Out?

“The grass is always greener on the other side,” and nowhere is that clearer than at the gym.  Mirrors on every side, we look at each other.  Then we eye ourselves with self-lust and self-loathing. 

Self-lust: “Look at me!  Man, I’m a hottie, but if only I had just one more ripple,” his eyes speak into his own.

More sane, but no less sad, self-loathing: thin people trying to become bigger, big people trying to become thinner.  And saddest of all: thin people trying to become thinner, slowly killing themselves.

Not everyone works out.  My friends who don’t all wish 1) that they looked like they did and 2) that it wasn’t a “should.”  But now that most of us have desk jobs, a “should” it will remain. 

Few of us can honestly say:  “I enjoy my body the way it is.  I’m going to celebrate it by running, jumping, lifting heavy objects, throwing miscellaneous projectiles, etc., just because those are wonderful things to do.”

Our culture tells us that a perfect body is the product of exercise, and that body is the goal.  That is a trap.  There is no perfect body.  A healthy desire to exercise is the product of a healthy mind and spirit.  A healthier body is simply a side-effect of your enjoying what is already good in yourself and in the world around you.

Exercise is good, but our motivations for exercise are fraught with self-rejection and self-deception.  What we do might appear beneficial but, as always, our motives demand deep scrutiny.

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