A bucket of folks visiting this blog are doing so because they are displeased with their current state. Occasionally, when they reach out to me, they assume I will judge them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today, I’m inspired to celebrate the human body, every shape and size.
I invite you into my memory of sweating through a session in the batting cage with a hitting coach years ago. He tried, desperately, to sell me on Manny Ramirez’s swing. “Kap,” he used to tell me, “you see how Manny holds his hands? Do it like that.”
I didn’t need to be convinced of the results. Manny Ramirez, PED use notwithstanding, was one of the greatest hitters I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. The fluidity of his hands drifting from his body and his explosiveness through the baseball was mind-bogglingly graceful and strong.
Now, I resented the approach of my hitting coach because I did not, nor would I ever, have Manny’s mechanics. He and I were simply from two different swing gene pools. I had my own strengths. I was good against left handed pitching, and I was a much better defender than him. I resolved to work my ass off on my stroke so I could maximize my own capability.
When it comes to the human body, it can helpful to visualize the type of physique we desire, but only if we can separate ourselves from that image.
I’m 6’1” and 195 pounds. I’ve been as heavy as 215 in my more muscular days with the Texas Rangers and as light as 175 in my senior year of high school. No matter what I do, I’ll never be able to change my frame. I can tweak something here or there, optimize for performance and health, but I know I can’t be 6’5”, even if that is attractive to me.
When engaging in the exercise of goal setting, it’s helpful to be specific. Dropping 2 dress sizes or going from a 38 to a 34 waist are reasonable goals. If you’re a woman with a naturally fuller figure, wanting to look like Kate Moss is only going to lead to frustration and unsavory results. Both men and women should strive to find an image that is a healthier and attainable version of their current body, instead of working toward an irrational pipe dream.
My younger son is on the shorter side and he wants desperately to play in the NFL, the tailback position to be exact. When he and I lie down on a grassy hillside and daydream together, it’s not the 6’3”, 240 pound Eddie George we muse about. Instead, it’s the pint size, extraordinarily powerful, shockingly coordinated and beautifully balanced Ray Rice. We talk about those features because they are ultimately within my son’s long-term grasp. My 12 year old may not have height; he has his own gifts. Together he and I place them on the marquee instead of focusing on the fact that he’s not likely to see over the offensive line.
My suggestion for you is to similarly connect with your blessings. Perhaps you’re overweight but strong as a grizzly bear. Celebrate that. Maybe you can’t squat 25 pounds, yet you move with the grace of Josephine Baker. Embrace it.
Finally, remember the most powerful people in our world’s history were gifted mental talents, not necessarily physical. If you fall into that category, you, not that freak athlete, are the true badass.