Every Body Is Perfect

Every Body Is Perfect

THERE'S A SEGMENT of physically active men we don’t hear from enough—on social media, on TV, in the pages of this magazine. Men who seem to have figured out the balance between striving and satisfaction. They may care about those puffy fat folds around their armpits. Or love handles that won’t go away no matter how much lat work they do. Or dimples on their ass.

But they’re not letting concern about these issues hold them back. They’re proudly strolling the beach. They’re comfortably changing in the locker room. They’re confidently playing skins at Tuesday-night hoops. They know you can be strong in more ways than one.

There’s nothing wrong with pushing to be your best self, building muscle and strength. But strength comes in many different forms. This is the message the men on the following pages want you to hear. From Martinus Evans, a 347-pounder who runs marathons, and physical therapist Ilya Parker, who escaped jokes about gender and weight as a youngster to become a fitness-inclusivity advocate for heavier people, to Cody Young, a self-described body-hair ambassador, and bodybuilder Jim Arrington, 90 years young and still lifting weights daily.

They’re not preaching acceptance of your body, necessarily. They’re saying it’s okay for you to want your body to look different in whatever way you want it to look different. It’s okay to care more about how your insides function than your outsides look. It’s okay to care more about the walls of your cardiac arteries than the ripples of your abdomen. (It’s also okay to care about those things equally.) It’s okay for you to care about your man boobs and not your triceps.

There’s a concept in Zen Buddhism called “big mind.” It means you expand your outlook enough to see the good and the bad as they are, so that you can make fully informed decisions. When it comes to health and fitness, it means seeing your blood pressure for what it is. Your pecs. Your heart rate. Your weight. Your calves. The way you feel when you get up in the morning. The way you feel after 30 squats. It means knowing what those things mean to you. They’re not inherently “good” or “bad.” They just are. You can change them or not change them, but the point is not to achieve a certain goal or look a certain way. The practice—working out, meditating, eating good food, getting stronger—is the point.

We’re not “before and after” projects. We’re all on a journey. We’re all perfectly imperfect, and no matter how much or how little we work out, we always will be.

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