Mason Cooley wrote, “Vanity well fed is benevolent. Vanity hungry is spiteful.” Is Vanity taken as a whole a bad thing? There are many of us who commit to training and eating right for various reasons, but if we said that looking good wasn’t one of them, well I’d call bullshit on that. The trouble comes when we try to define “looking good.”
Does a figure competitor look good? I think she looks hungry and malnourished, that’s not good. Does an ultra-marathon runner look good? Gawds no, they look one step into a shallow grave. Does my Bigg Strongman and his Strongman pals look good, of course, but to others they look like big, fat guys who get to stay big and fat just cuz they’re called Strongman. Do I look good? I dunno. I’m bigger and bulkier after cycles of 10×10, 5×10, etc. than I have been before. But I have specific goals that I want my body to perform. To do that, I’m trying to get as physically prepared as I can for a 6 month season that starts in approximately 28 days. But do I want to look good? Uhhhhh, ya. Why would I bitch and moan so much about proper diet if all I wanted to do was be big, strong, AND fat. Of course I want to look good AND do well this year. So is my vanity benevolent, or spiteful?
What if I didn’t have these goals? Then what? What would drive me to hit the gym and watch my food. Well, I can say nearly 6-7 years ago it was just to look and feel better. I was a fat. I ate unchecked and drank too much beer with a “friend” that was happy to do the same. Although she and I had tons of fun while the girls played hockey, we were horribly unhealthy and not very pretty either. This is where the magic of CrossFit comes in. You can read a workout, do it, and test your times against all others posting. After some time, you get a feel of your “competition” that is, those in your age/weight range that is an apples to apples comparison. This worked for me for some time, maybe a year and a half until I finally thought to myself, “Now what?” That was about the time I took a CrossFit Barbell cert and met Rip and Stef and took that path.
I was lucky. An avenue opened up for me through strength training and weightlifting. It gave me a renewed focus and frankly let me heal up some issues that had been nagging me after doing CF for an extended period of time. I had expert coaching and learned how to be a damn fine one at the same time. And through it all, I still wanted to look good. Which, by the way, gets harder and harder for me each year north of 40. Poor me.
With age also comes clarity. Vanity + Clarity=a happy Juli. Yes, I’m vain in my ways. I want to look my best but I also want to BE my best. Not THE BEST, just MY BEST. Which means I’ll do nearly everything I can possibly to do be strong, and conditioned, and avoid inflammation, and still try to look good. But I’ll also recognize that sometimes shit just happens and if I carry some fat here and there on my strong bod, I’ll let it go for now. At some point, we can talk about backing off of heavy training and upping the conditioning and losing a good 20 pounds or just go and get some lipo (srsly.) Or both.
Ironically (and I hope she doesn’t mind me bringer her into this) a dear friend had a post on her the FB about ‘following your bliss.’ I interpret that to mean, are we on a specific path where work is needed to make things happen to achieve a specific goal? Well, ya. I train. I eat well most of the time, better than 90% of the other 46 year old ‘Merican women I can be quite sure. We have a lot of other things going on in life that is good and some things that are challenging. Cuz we don’t live in a bubble. The thing is though, I know dozens of others that do follow their bliss. We’re spoiled that way. Having so many friends with specific goals and when they don’t, they just keep showing up to the gym until they decide what next for them. At that’s cool, sometimes we just bide our time until another door opens and then we know we’re prepared to get prepared for it.
And that’s it in a nutshell for training. Sometimes we train for a specific goal or season. Sometimes we train out of habit even though we don’t have specific goals right meow but trust something will come along that will kick our butts into high gear. And sometimes we train just to look and feel better. Our goals may not seem as important as an Olympian, but really, who cares? A PR is a PR and is to be celebrated. And if we look good while doing it? Call me vain, I’ll answer.
Bad girl. Your face should be disappointed in you.