Exercise, not Competition

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So, I’ve been needing to start working on my transition and I’ve decided to go about this slowly and carefully, taking it one step at a time. Since AFAB transition requires a lot of exercise and I’m more interested in achieving androgyny than anything else, I think that starting up a regular exercise routine should be my first step. Interestingly enough, it is also the hardest step. I’m not good at making myself exercise – I never liked it. Perhaps there is a reason for that, it’s not like I don’t feel good after exercising, I do, but I think it has more to do with the pressure I have come to associate with such a practice.

Growing up in U.S. public school systems, children tend to equate exercise with competition because the American mindset is a competitive one and most phys ed classes incorporate that mindset into their curriculum by focusing on competitive sports. Even basic stretches and core exercises were given a competitive twist and I, not having ever been a competitive person myself, got turned off to the entire idea. Despite being naturally slim and incredibly healthy my entire life, gym was always by far my worst subject area – I had no upper body strength to speak of, no endurance, the only thing I was good at was running and, strangely, basketball. I might have actually pursued basketball as a hobby if that, too, wasn’t so competitive. I was even offered a place on my middle school coaches long distance running team and turned it down because I didn’t want the pressure of competing in a sport. It simply involved too much – dieting, regular exercise, but most importantly playing to win. And here I am now, having to make myself do the things that my peers used to bully me for being unable to do.

Perhaps this is why I took to yoga so well. It’s the perfect regimen – there is no pressure, you need only do what is available to you and your body on any particular day and, most importantly, it focuses on the entire body in near equal proportion (if you’re doing it right). I can’t go to the gym without feeling inadequate compared to the people around me and I think that focusing on only one part of the body at a time is ineffective at best and harmful at worst. I prefer yoga’s simplicity to literally anything else – exercise machines just look like medieval torture devices by comparison. So what’s my problem, then? Why not just do yoga every day forever and make it a habit? Probably just laziness, honestly. That and a strange fear of routine.

I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like homogeneity in my daily schedule. It gets boring. Still, that’s an easily fixed problem too – it’s not like I’ll be doing the same exact yoga practice every day, that wouldn’t be useful at all. I’m not sure what it is that bothers me, perhaps it does come down to that old issue with competitive exercise or maybe I’m just afraid of the physical changes I can expect from actually being in shape (which, I’ll grant, is a little weird but I like my jiggly butt. It jiggles XD). Also, somehow I think I’m afraid that yoga might even make my body shape more feminine than it already is (though, I’m not exactly sure how that’s possible) with all of the hip-opening stretches to open my already very wide hips and core exercises which promise to make my waste even slimmer as though to make me a more pronounced hour glass. But all of that is silly – hormones will help to redistribute fat in my body to make it more masculine, I know this, but still. Part of me thinks I’m supposed to be doing more “manly” exercises like lifting weights and doing pull-ups (a thing I’ve literally never been capable of to my middle school self’s embarrassment), maybe I should be running on a regular basis, doing crunches and push-ups and all this other good shit, but none of it has ever been as satisfying as yoga so perhaps that is the best thing for me. Maybe, one day I’ll add those things to my routine, but since I’m only just (re-)starting a regular exercising habit, I think I’ll stick with my favorite and, by far the versatile, of options. I know now that I’m not in competition with anybody else and I don’t have somebody yelling over my shoulder for me to “be better, be better, don’t be lazy, don’t give up, you have adversaries to beat;” I only have myself and my goals and my needs and that is enough for me, I think.

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