4/17/16

Confronting My Own Bias


Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.
Tryon Edwards
As someone who constantly writes about men owning up to their own preconceptions and bias, I felt it rather appropriate to own up to one of my own; one that was blown clear out of the water a few months ago and didn’t realize it till recently. So, instead of trying to justify my own bias, it’s time to stop making excuses and offer an open apology to every fitness buff, gym rat, health nut, and nutritionist out there.
You guys know what you’re talking about.
Keep in mind that I’ve never been a full blown couch potatoes.
Let me start by admitting where my own bias was born. I was never part of the jock clique, as I found my passion and inspiration in the artistic and intellectual endeavors as a kid. Sports? I was never really into them. That doesn’t mean I was out of shape, as I practiced martial arts for most of my life, did some track back in high school, and was an avid BMX/Freestyler for the longest time when I was a kid. But the social faction mindset of school led me to embrace the dumb jock bias from my youth without realizing it.
Sure, I (sort of) worked out and tried to eat (sort of) healthy but, if I’m completely honest, it was never really a priority (to the dismay of every doctor I went to). Life? Way too complicated to take the time to worry about eating right all the time and to worry about taking care of myself. If anything, my lack of health was my testimony and proof to my dedication to what really mattered within my life. An hour in the gym was an hour I wasn’t hustling for a project or an hour I wasn’t doing something for the family.
How easy do we end up telling ourselves that taking care of your body is selfish? Or even vain? Right?
So, when last Movember rolled around, I started to participate in their Move campaign. With one simple exception this time… As I’ve written about men’s health and the importance of taking care of yourself, this time I took it a bit more serious. So I started to look into doing it right.
First step? I sat down with Ms. B  who, besides being our resident copyright enforcer, is a long time nutrition and workout enthusiast. She could point me in the right direction, offering me an extensive selection of tools and advice. And then something amazing started to happen. I actually followed through on her recommendations. I started researching on every fitness site, sat down with a nutritionist and a fitness coach. And the more I learned and the more I discussed strategies and plans with them, the more I realized that those “dumb jocks” weren’t dumb at all. If anything, they are made to feel dumb by society stereotyping them.
You’re average gym rat often has an amazing understanding of nutrition, body mechanics, and general health. And it made perfect sense (when I took of my own blinders). If the serious surfer has an excellent understanding of meteorology and oceanography, why wouldn’t the serious fitness enthusiast have an excellent understanding of everything involving making your body better?
It’s funny. We have no problem believing a doctor when they give you a prescription for 20 different pills, but should they tell you to take care of your body, work out, or eat healthier to avoid taking medication, we want a second opinion and pretty much insult the doctor’s intelligence. Long story short…I started doing things the right way, instead of “my” way. And, to quote every single click bait article online, “you’ll never guess what happened next!” It worked.
There is a down side to this realization though. I had own up to every excuse, to every time I bullshitted myself, to every dismissive comment and attitude I might have had. I stopped making up “logical” justifications as to why they could do it and I couldn’t, most of which involved putting them down and making me look good. I’ve realized I’ve been somewhat of an asshole dismissing their advice all this time. Today? I’m all out of excuses. Because the best testimony of self sacrifice I can have towards myself and those around me is to be healthy enough to last a long time and fit enough to make it worthwhile.