Asian Masculinity: My Body, My Dream Part II

“The only person you need to be better than is….the person you were yesterday”

Why do I workout? Why do I put in the hours of pain? Why do I get myself and make sure I always have time to push past my comfort zone?

Because even if I have the worst day, literally everything goes to shit, if I go to the gym, I am 1 percent better than I was yesterday. 1 percent better in 100 days…. Equals 100 Percent. I am Asian so I am good at math. Basically, you become a whole different person physically and the most important aspect…mentally.

The one thing you can control…the one thing you have choice in every day is improving your body. You control what you put in your mouth, you control how you move your body, and how you take care of it. Your body is the reflection of your lifestyle.

When you read Part I of “My Body, My Dream” I went from fat to skinny. But I went to brutal skinny where I couldn’t even do a push up. Thus, I was actually on the reconditioning program at the Air Force Academy Freshman Year. The program was for cadets who did not meet the standards physically so they had mandatory training sessions at the gym, practicing pull ups, push ups, sit-ups, and all other aspects of the test. When I first lost thirty pounds, I thought I was going to be happy and accept my body. But like all human beings I desired more.

Ever since I was young, I watched the amazing physiques of Rocky Balboa, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Goku and Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z. I used to watch them, wanting to look and be strong like them. I used to hang on my uncle’s biceps, admiring his muscles.

It is crazy how the universe works though because I ended up at the most testosterone driven University in the World: The Air Force Academy. Most of the guys at the Academy worked out and were into bodybuilding and fitness. This is how I got my first start in the fitness lifestyle.

I remember taking my first pre workout, NO explode, and doing my first chest day. I fell in love with the pump, the blood flow to your muscles, the feeling of accomplishment. I loved the feeling of barely able to sit down to poop because your legs were so sore from LEG DAY. I remember my first leg day I walked with a limp for like a week. But all that pain, the soreness, it reminded me that I was changing. I was changing my life. I actually felt like I could set a goal, dictate my actions, and accomplish my goal.

However, even with all the good, it still comes with the bad. I started to categorize foods as bad and good. I started to restrict myself with certain foods. I tried everything from low card diets, paleo, and etc. Restricting myself led to binge eating and always feeling guilty. When I was younger, I was able to eat few oreos, one ice cream bar, or small bag of potato chips. Now I wanted to eat the whole bag of oreos, pint of ice cream, and the giant size potato bags…. And I did. However, I knew for me to actually change my body I had to commit to something… something that would motivate me to diet and push myself.

Few people know about this but I actually did a bodybuilding competition my junior year of college. Yup…I was in my banana hammocks, navy blue man thong, and got a spray tan everywhere….I mean everywhere. I remember waking up on the day of competition and looking at my body, lying to myself that I was ready. I got there early morning and we had to weigh in to see what division we will compete in. I remember the guy in front of me taking his clothes off…and I stared in admiration. He was competing in the same weight class as me and we weighed the same. Yet we looked so different. Below are the pictures that I NEVER showed to anyone. Not even my family.

I FAILED. I failed so miserably. I was 8th place out of 8. I remember my friends showing up to support me…. And feeling so shameful and embarrassed. In bodybuilding competitions, there is a morning show and evening show. I went to the evening show alone. I told my friends not to come. I remember we had couple of hours until the evening show, and I binge ate. Yup…I ate oreos, candy, and everything before my evening show. The evening show is where we do our posing routines and I remember I looked worse than I did in the morning.

The month after the show, I went on a binge eating and throwing up cycle. It was horrible. It actually started 3 weeks before the competition. We got free pizza from our sponsors of our Squadron and I remember I just stared at my roommates eating. I couldn’t hold back after 9 weeks of two a day workouts, eating nothing but chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes, I gave in and ate a whole box of pizza. And then I threw it all up. This habit went on for a couple of weeks after the competition too. Some days I would try to miss class because I felt so fuckin gross about myself. I didn’t even look at myself in the mirror for a period of time. I remember me hoarding leftovers at the cafeteria, anything I can grab. I would store them in my backpack (oreos, cliff bars, chips, cookies, everything) and eat them behind my desk. My roommates didn’t know how much I was eating because I stashed them in my drawers in my desk. Then within thirty minutes, I was hovering over a toilet bowl and sticking a finger down my throat.

Honestly, I do not think I fully got over that bodybuilding competition and the after affects. For years, I still have deep insecurities about my body. I am going to be brutally honest with you guys….I still struggle with binge eating time to time. However, I stopped throwing up. I just accept that I did it and just move on. It is hard at times, because I do judge myself when I do overeat. I do feel like shit and criticize myself. Sometimes, this would last weeks. I still constantly look at my body and I feel like it is not good enough. I am still facing issues with my body image.

I will tell you right now, you will struggle in journey in creating and transforming your body. The biggest struggle is accepting the body you have now yet knowing that it will transform and change. You have to give it time. You will learn a lot about yourself physically and mentally the longer and harder the journey is.

I am still on my journey in loving my body as it is now. Of course I want the bodies of my role models like Bruce Lee and Greg Plitt. However, I stopped comparing myself to them, and compare myself to who I was yesterday.

If you are struggling in your journey with your body, please do not give up. Do not judge yourself if you do not follow your diet or fail at your goal. In health and fitness, the journey is the most important aspect. The outcome is never going to fulfilling. Because honestly, you are always going to want more and you are always going to compare yourself who might have a “better” body. The key is to fully accept yourself and the moments you do and appreciate your body, and be grateful.

“It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.

Suggestions for your journey:

- If you struggle with your body image, accept your body as it is now. Just accept yet believe that is going to change. As you build your habits and lifestyle, your body will change.

- If you struggle with binge eating, DO NOT JUDGE yourself after. Understand it happens and move on. Do not consider less of yourself.

- If you are going to binge eat, make sure you work out and eat a source of low fat protein and vegetables before. You want to start building the healthy habits. For me when I have a feeling I am going to binge eat, I have chicken and salad no matter what. I will not eat my “cheat meals” until I eat my chicken and salad.

- Eat your meals around people. Eating is a social event. Never eat alone. If you’re going to eat a whole pie or five burgers, do it with your friends. Make it a fun social event. Attach positivity to it

- Do not keep your favorite “cheat” meals in your house. Do not. It is not worth it. If you want your Ben and Jerrys, you have to go get it at the supermarket.

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