On ‘looking incredible’
This might sound like a not-so-humble brag, so bear with me, but one of the compliments I often get when I reveal my age to someone who can see my physique (for instance, when I am in bikini at the spa), is that I ‘look incredible’. One the one hand, I absolutely love this flattery (mainly because I am otherwise starved for it) and am therefore quick to reveal my age. On the other hand, it infuriates me because of the difference between the conversation I want the question/answer to lead to vs. where it inevitably goes.
Like any evangelist, I want to talk about my twin gods of diet and lifestyle, but instead the next question I inevitably get is: ‘do your parents look amazing too?’ What people want me to say is ‘yes’, so that they can write my physique off to ‘good genetics’ and theirs off to ‘bad’. That way they can end the conversation without ever needing to take responsibility for why they don’t look (or feel) incredible. In truth, the reason they don’t ‘look incredible’ is not because of their genetics, it is because of the choices they make over and over each and every day.
Injuries aside, we each have the bodies we have for the same reasons: genetics, diet, and lifestyle. Obviously our genetics play an enormous part in our how bodies work and look – for instance, I could never have an hourglass figure or get hench – but frankly, this is the least interesting aspect of my body to me, because, in the main, I have no control over it. I will always have narrow hips and certain chronic illnesses no matter what I do. The point is not to lament that, rather it is to learn how to make the body I do have the best it can be. Why? Because it is me, I am it. When my body is healthy, I am healthy. When my body feels good, I feel good. We are material, corporeal beings; our mind and our matter are inextricably linked.
When people say I ‘look incredible’ what they mean is that I am muscular (in the way my body grows muscles, I am a classic ectomorph), low in body fat, and don’t have many wrinkles. They mean that I have my best body and the reason I have my best body is because I have consistently, and throughout the vast majority of my life, done what you are supposed to do: eat healthily and take frequent exercise. That’s it. That’s all I do. I bet that if we all took that basic advice, I’d not ‘look incredible’, I’d look average. In that sense, I’d like to look average.
There have been times in my life when I have been less healthy than I am now, and the result for me was the same as it is for anyone: I put on substantial weight. (I am sure I felt like crap too, but it was too long ago to remember.) But overall, and especially since I turned thirty, and double especially since the pandemic, I have exercised 3-4 times per week and eaten healthily. Whilst what ‘eating healthily’ means has changed throughout my life, it has always been underpinned by: 1) a recognition that junk and/or processed ‘food’ is not actual food; and 2) that sugar is a toxic drug.
I will never tire of banging on about this because it’s so fucking simple and I am so baffled by people’s capacity for denial. People understand that pumping chemicals and toxins in the environment is a bad, polluting, destructive thing, so why can’t people see that pumping their bodies full of chemicals and toxins is equally bad for their own ecology? Why is that people think they can behave like Shell in the Niger delta and suffer no consequences? Yes poverty is a huge factor for some people, but, and I say this as someone who can only work part-time, there are still choices to be made within that constraint. (Plus, I often find that people without that constraint use it as a way to justify their own poor dietary and lifestyles choices.)
The point here is that I want you to ‘look incredible’ because when you look incredible (and have achieved that through diet and lifestyle, rather than cosmetic surgery), you feel incredible: physically, mentally, and emotionally. And to be clear, my focus is on my health; however ‘incredible’ I may look, it is simply a ramification of this drive to prioritise health and fitness. Another point is that you can look and feel incredible if you change the hundreds of tiny choices you make every single day: it is empowering in that way. A third point is that even if you have a chronic or autoimmune disease, even if you’ve developed some kind of metabolic disease, even if you have harmed your body beyond repair, you can still make the best of what you have. You can still be your best you, if you simply stop pumping your body full of chemicals and toxins, eat real food, and, if you can, start doing regular exercise.
Looking and feeling incredible is a choice we make many times a day, and it is relative, scaleable, and achievable to everyone. It is a commitment we make to taking care of our body because it’s the only one we have. Your body is not a disposable commodity that you can trade in for a new one when it breaks down, nor will it ever become obsolete, despite what transhumanists may think. So please, start treating yourself with the respect, care, and attention you deserve. Start owning the choices you make and be honest about what they mean. Make one different choice today, two tomorrow, and so on until your occasional bad choice is drowned the the tsunami of good.