健美大神之路（A Bodybuilder Is Born）
Episode 13 – Do Not Seek Outside Approval!
Randy had been in Connecticut over the weekend. Most Massachusetts residents these days only went to that particular state for two reasons – Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, two massive Indian-owned casinos that allow us to lose just as much money as if we had flown to Las Vegas. But it wasn’t gambling that had called young Randy, it was more like grandparents. Since both my grandfathers had shed their mortal coils before I had burst from my mama’s womb and my grandmothers had followed suit in my teenage years, I sort of forget what grandparents are even like.
All I could remember is that they were a lot older than I was, they smelled funny, and they asked me to repeat everything I said an awful lot. One of my grandmothers had whiskers on her chin that I still can’t match at almost 34 years old now. But I figured Randy’s grandma in Connecticut was more like the ones you see on TV, always baking something and using endearing little phrases like “by gum” and “in my day.” Randy was looking a little bummed as we warmed up on chest, which is his favorite muscle group to train. I hated to ask, but I wondered if his grandparents were in good health.
“Hey, how is your grandmother and grandfather, everything okay with them?” I tried to sound cheerful, but was expecting the worst.
“They’re fine,” he muttered, seeming distracted. I let him do his final warm-up, but it was clear he wasn’t volunteering any further information.
“So what’s wrong?”
“They weren’t very supportive of my bodybuilding at all, and it’s the first time they have ever been like that to me.” I could see he had nobody else to unload this on, so I gave him the green light.
“Tell me about it.”
“They have known I exercised, but they haven’t seen me since right after I started training with you. I was hoping they were going to give me some kind of compliment for putting on all the size I have, but it was just the opposite. They told me I was going to get musclebound, out of proportion, and that I was going to hurt myself lifting weights. They got upset when I didn’t want any chocolate mousse for dessert like everyone else, and when I tried to explain about eating clean Grandma got mad.”
“She didn’t throw a pie in your face, did she?” I asked with a grin.
“No, she thought I was saying her food was dirty or something, she doesn’t understand that I try not to eat a lot of saturated fat or simple sugars, especially since I gained all that fat no long ago. Then, a couple hours later I go for my Parrillo protein bar and she goes, ‘you just ate! You’re going to get indigestion!’ Then I tried to explain how I eat six or seven times a day and she almost had a heart attack. Grandpa didn’t say much, he just kept shaking his head and grunting.”
“So you didn’t give them a posing demonstration?”
“No, you’re not gonna like this, but…” Randy didn’t want to continue.
Not Big Ron Fans
“I brought them a couple issues of Performance Press with the “Bodybuilder is Born” articles. I told them they were about me, and showed them your picture and said you were the guy who was training me… and they said you looked horrible. They said they hoped I didn’t want to look like me with those awful lumps and veins.”
“So the elders are not big Ron fans, huh?”
“No. I think they got mad at you, like you’re corrupting me with all this ‘nonsense.’ I felt terrible, like they think everything I’m doing is stupid and wrong. They have always been proud of me growing up but now they don’t approve of me wanting to be a bodybuilder.It sucks, man.”
That was Randy’s ultimate proclamation of unhappiness, so it was time to make him see things weren’t as bad as he thought.
“Randy, how old are your grandparents?”
“Seventy-five and seventy-six.”
“Since they are the same age as my mother, I think I can tell you a little bit about their generation and the way they were brought up to think about things like exercise and eating. As far as exercise, that was something soldiers or professional athletes did, not regular people. If a man was muscular it was supposed to be from hard work like bricklaying or construction, not lifting weights. It was also a sign that you were low-class, like you had to go out there and do physical work instead of staying inactive and flabby like the wealthier class.
The idea of having muscles just for their own sake makes no sense to them. In fact, for some dopey reason in the old days it was considered healthy to be overweight. I think it’s because it meant you would have more fat to survive in times of famine. You have to remember that this generation were the children of the Great Depression.”
What Is The Great Depression?
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century, and is used in the 21st century as an example of how far the world’s economy can decline. The depression originated in the United States, triggered by the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday), but quickly spread to almost every country in the world.
“Right, I remember studying that in American History.”
“My mom, in fact, still hoards enough food to last through a winter at all times as if her access to it might be cut off at any minute. That brings me to meals. Most of America still believes in the three squares, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Your grandparents were brought up on fatty meats and buttered bread and potatoes, for the most part. When you only eat three times a day, the food needs to be pretty heavy and filling so you don’t start getting hunger pangs. Eating plain foods like chicken breasts, white rice, and steamed broccoli is almost as bad as fried dog poop to a lot of men and women of that generation.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right, they really can’t understand bodybuilding.”
Happens To All Bodybuilders
“Victor Martinez just won the Night of Champions and owns his own gym, but his elderly father still doesn’t approve of lifting weights. But you know what? It’s not just senior citizens who have a hard time comprehending the whole bodybuilding lifestyle, it’s just about everybody who doesn’t work out. You can’t expect them to approve of what you do or appreciate your physique, because they usually won’t.
The bigger you get the more apparent this will be. When you walk down the street looking like a bodybuilder, most people will look at you with disdain, jealousy, or amusement. Don’t expect applause and cheers all the time.”
“Great, so I have that to look forward to,” Randy groused.
“There are those who appreciate and admire what we do, but you can’t do any of this for other people,” I explained. “If you are doing this so that other people will congratulate you for your efforts, you won’t last, because you won’t get too much of that outside the little bodybuilding community. Bodybuilding is very unique in that almost all of its fans are participants. Obviously all the guys who watch Monday Night Football aren’t out there playing the game. But to really appreciate what we do, you actually have to do it. Be proud of what you accomplish in the gym and with your body, whether anyone else you know is or not.”
“It’s a little lonely being a bodybuilder then, isn’t it?” Randy asked sadly.
“No, I don’t think so. It’s more like you are a monk or something, leading a very disciplined life that most people can’t possibly understand the motivations behind. But that shouldn’t take away from your joy and satisfaction. You can either think of yourself as a freak or special, it’s all how you look at it.”
“I thought being a freak was a good thing in bodybuilding?”
“Now you’re trying to confuse me. Listen, are you still going to cry because grandma and grandpa don’t understand biceps, quads, and protein shakes? Are you going to be upset that they don’t ask you to hit a side chest for them the next time you see them?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“I’m even willing to forgive them for saying I look horrible, though I will take on your grandfather in a posedown any day. In fact, if I ever see them, I may just have to present them with an autographed poster of Ronnie Coleman for their living room.”
Randy had a chuckle at that.
“What do you say we go for lunch? I’m thinking pork chops, mashed potatoes with gravy, and key lime pie for dessert. You know that’s how we old people like to eat, Sonny! And put that heavy weight down before you strain yourself.” I know someday, assuming I live long enough, I will be an old man myself. But I will be one of the only old men I know still training hard and eating right. And if I ever end up in a retirement home, there had better be a killer gym nearby!