Humility and the physique show

On both October 20th and November 3rd I will be participating in physique show contests. The bottom line here is that contestants are judged on the way their body looks (muscle symmetry, etc.).

Here’s the truth… you aren’t going to get up there if you don’t look decent, and that necessarily raises the question of humility. How can one maintain a spirit of humility while showing off his/her body?

I am a Christian and therefore embrace the idea and virtue of humility. I wondered, early on, if I should even do this, because it can cause pride. After all, you don’t partipate in any kind of body show because you look like crap… or even normal… you’re competing because your body looks good, and that opens the door for pride.

So here’s how I’m thinking about this whole experience…

Humility is a virtue that my Leader (Jesus) teaches, and one that I have been taught since a child. Humility is a virtue that I want to be evident in my life. I don’t like proud people and certainly don’t want to be one or come off as arrogant… and yet I’m putting my body up to be judged. Isn’t that a conflict? Humble… yet proud enough to have your body judged (incidentally, they’re not judging EVERYTHING… only what can be observed with board shorts and no shirt).

Here’s how I’ve processed this experience with an eye to humility…

  • I’m just a skinny, normal dude. What I’m showing is the result of HARD, SUSTAINED work that includes both diet and exercise. What I’m showing is not a “natural gift” but a consequence of hard work… and that is humbling. I know what it took to get to this point. I am more proud of the persistance and determination I’ve developed than I am of the body that will be judged. The muscular development will go away (someday) but the character development will stay.
  • I know how many times I wanted to quit… or at least cheat… and my wife or my trainer encouraged me to keep on going. That humbles me. I realize that I cannot achieve anything of worth without a group of friends and consistent accountability, and that keeps me humble.
  • I know that in a room of “normal” bellies mine will look better, BUT when compared with people who have trained and dieted with a similar goal… there will always be better… and I will look normal. I’ve learned that who/what you compare yourself with will be a catalyst for pride or humility. Compare yourself to out-of-shape-donut-eaters and you’ll be proud. Compare yourself to championship competitors and you’ll be deeply humbled. The best way is to compare yourself to yourself. I look much different today than I did in June… and that’s the result of lots of hard and sustained effort, and that keeps me humble.
  • I know that in a moment all of my hard work could be taken from me and I could live with a mangled body… say for instance the result of a motorcycle accident. That humbles me. The body can be taken from me… and someday will be nothing but a memory (and some photos), and that humbles me.

This whole process has been terrifically rewarding and I liken it to any other individual who has worked long and hard on a project and wants to show it (e.g. an old car, a train set, etc.). Sure, there is the opportunity for pride, but it is also an opportunity for gratitude and an appreciation of the value of hard work.

So on October 20th and November 3rd I will be humbled by the contribution of family and friends and reminded that much can be accomplished with a clear goal and hard, sustained work. I will also be mindful of this fact… my Leader, Jesus, has granted me breath, protection, and friends to enable me to cross the finish line.

Here’s to humble achievers!

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