One discouraging photo.

I’ve been working out on a regular basis since the summer of 2015.  I cleaned up my diet, so I’m not shoving sugary snacks into my face all day long (I was a junk food vegan for years, but that’s another story).  I feel better and I’m in the best shape of my life.  The ultimate goal of all this has been to become a big, strong dad for my little boy as my father was for me when I was growing up; to look like the shirtless heroes of my youth, like He-Man and Hulk Hogan; to get that “ideal male body” that I know is unnecessary, but dammit I want it anyway, if for no other reason than to get rid of my damn chicken legs.

I posted weekly progress pictures on my Instagram account for a year.  I would flex and use lots of filters to look as lean and cut as possible.  Nowadays I post the occasional picture on my social media feeds, and I always make those shots look as nice as I can.  One day at the gym I asked my wife to take a few pictures of me working out.  Anyone who’s been to a gym knows that the lighting there is spectacular, and in a moment of confidence I wanted to show off.  She discreetly snapped a few pictures and sent them to me.

I was horrified.

My arms looked spindly and my legs were still those damn chicken legs I hate so much.  My workout clothes looked baggy and shabby.  It appeared like I had made zero progress in the year I had been so diligently trying to get bigger and stronger.  I looked even scrawnier than before!  Was this how I really looked without camera filters and ideal lighting?  Was all my “progress” in my head?  Is this how I truly looked to everyone, and whenever I spoke about my time at the gym were they shaking their heads or laughing behind my back?  Was all this a waste of time?  Was I just a joke?

Once I regained my mental composure, I considered a few things:

These were pictures taken at unflattering angles.  No one is safe from a badly-angled photo.

My diet, while very healthy, is still plant-based and I don’t eat much during the day.  I realize that most of the real work in bulking up is eating, and eating a lot.  Steadily-paced meals and regular snacks will do the trick, because right now I’m more lean than I am big.

My horrified overreaction was fed by my infuriatingly brittle self-esteem, but I was able to get it under control this time.  While I hate those damn photos, they provided me with some harsh but necessary reminders:  I’m not as big as I want to be, I still have a long way to go on this journey, and if I want that “ideal male body” I have to work harder and harder to get it.

I want to be the kind of man that my son aspires to be like, both in mind and body.  Both still need a lot of work… especially my damn chicken legs.

About Michael

Michael Terracciano loves comic books, superheroes, outer space, and telling stories. His friends call him "Mookie." He spent the last ten years as the author and artist of the fantasy webcomic, "Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire." He enjoys spending time with his wife and their three cats. His favorite planet is Jupiter because it's awesome. He wants having superpowers to be fun again, and for this to be a universe you want to escape to, not from. He hopes you enjoy reading Star Power.