This thing I’m training to do (the bodybuilding show) scares me more than anything I’ve ever done. So why am I doing it? I can think of two reasons right now.
First, I’m an introvert. I need to push myself to do things that scare me or else I will only think about doing things that scare me. I’ve been pushing myself like that since my mom died in 1990. And in 2009, I had a wake up call about my health when an anxiety attack put me in the ER because it felt like a heart attack. Still, why do a bodybuilding show? I was inspired by my friend Paula, who died too soon, but lived what seemed to me, to be a fearless life. I wanted to be brave and fearless, too. I’ve since learned that there is nothing “fearless” about living. There is fear everyday. The bravery comes from not letting insecurities and fears stop me.
The second reason is because the show is where I will display my art. It’s my “opening night”.
I love this sculpture, but I want larger muscles.
My passion for bodybuilding comes from the blend of art and science to sculpt something beautiful. When I read that sentence back, it doesn’t sound exactly right. How do I describe this? It’s like everything below my neck is my medium – just like an artist has a medium, whether that be clay, granite, or canvas. But it’s a much trickier medium to work because it has to be manipulated from the inside, at the cellular level, and it takes a very long time to carve out a part. It’s not just the lifting that is my tool – it’s also the nutrition, the cardio, the sleep, the time, the planning, and the attitude.
Symmetry and proportion are major aesthetic components in bodybuilding. My left calf is bigger than my right calf. Some of the muscles on the left side of my back are larger than on the right. I can fix this over time with adjustments in the training, but the point is that it takes time. I can’t just slap some clay on my piece and even things out, can I?
Lifting changes the hormones in my body in ways that positively affect my blood pressure and brain chemistry. I’m able to deal better with stress. I’m happy. I literally must workout in the morning to lower the cortisol levels that are naturally higher in the mornings. That’s true for everyone, but in my body, those higher cortisol levels cause chest pains. I can trigger a cortisol release just by thinking about it – in fact, it’s happening right now. Morning is not a good time to have a conversation with me. I can be stressed out right away until I get that first workout started. That’s also why I need to workout again in the afternoon. Release the stress of the day. If I don’t keep the cortisol in check, it will metabolize muscle, which is basically like watching my work evaporate.
If I had my druthers, I’d have an opening night at a gallery with my work on display, but I’d be somewhere else. Or sitting in a dark corner alone watching and listening to the people as they looked at my art. But the reality is that my art is attached to my head, so watching from a corner probably won’t work.
I’ve never been moved to do a more traditional form of art. I don’t draw, paint, or dance. I don’t feel compelled to write about anything else, either. Just this. Bodybuilding is my art.