I’m Too Sexy to Give a Damn
Midway through my first year in college, while on a road trip home to visit family, I looked down and noticed my stomach overlapping the seat belt. “Must just be the way I’m sitting,” I thought. Minutes after I arrived home, my mom said, “I guess you can pinch a few inches.” Alas, the metabolism of youth is no match against newfound freedom of indulgence. The organized discipline of home and high school — healthy, scheduled family meals at the table, coaches barking out wind sprint counts, etc.– had been replaced by late night junk food, parties, and, as I recall, countless couch potato hours of communal, dorm room” hilarity” soaking in cult comedy on television. In terms of fitness and nutrition, for the first time in my life, I alone was calling the shots. And I also realized that I didn’t care what other people thought of my appearance so much as I cared what I thought about my appearance. And is it fitness or confidence that make people most attractive? Either way, the debate didn’t apply to me; I had neither.
Vanity and insecurity, as far as I’m concerned, are interchangeable terms. For this discussion, I want to set aside the health benefits of working out. I envy those who are truly comfortable in their own skin and whose unwavering self-confidence is immune to physical superficialities. Frankly, I don’t give a damn whether you work out or don’t work out; I just want people to be as reasonably happy as possible. For those of us who are driven by vanity or insecurity, working out, I’ve discovered, has paradoxical effects aside from those we might have anticipated. The vain person probably wants to achieve some spectacle of muscled specimen, while the insecure person probably wants to lose “excess” weight. The muscles may not get as big as the vain person envisioned and the belt may not tighten as much as the insecure person had hoped, but both will, through working out, experience an almost narcotic sense of elation, well-being, and satisfaction of positive endeavor, and those initial, external driving motivations will fade as self-confidence emerges. That is the beauty of fitness: the internal effects. And that is why I urge people to lead physically active lives.
This is my rallying cry to those who are overwhelmed by the myriad of concerns about what makes us outwardly attractive: forget all that stuff. At an age when everything is in flux — fashion trends, seemingly capricious affections, social circles — the sense of self is confusing enough without undue insecurities about how we do or don’t fit in, about whether or not we are skinny enough, toned enough, or muscled enough to win and deserve companionship. Instead, look inward to achieve outward results. Take care of yourself. Go jogging, go swimming, take a spin class — just take the time to push yourself and the internal rewards will be legion. With a sense of peace, the superficial concerns and confusions diminish. More so than the cut of abdominal muscles, more so than the tone of thighs, people are drawn to personality and confidence. Confidence is attainable — and sexy.