Chet got in touch with us to share his experience of grappling with body issues.

When you were growing up, how did you feel about your body?

It was confusing. I remember being told as a child that the ‘ideal’ male body was one in which a man’s shoulders were ten inches bigger than his waist. For me, as a runner from youth, I realised there was no way I was ever going to achieve that ideal. This was amplified when I was able to get porn, and I realised that I wasn’t built like the actors.

This wasn’t a good time for a closeted young gay man. This lack of a good feeling about my body was one of several unhealthy self-issues that plagued me for a long time.

How do you feel that your sexuality has influenced the way that you perceive your body?

Being gay has been a big factor. First, there were the porn stars of the 80s and 90s – that what I wanted to look like. I also wanted to look like Greg Louganis.

I was impatient with my body. I had many episodes of striving for the external appearance of health via self-destructive things. My fitness goals now influence my perception of my body.

What steps have you taken to try and achieve the physique that you aspire to?

I aspire to an aquathlon body – suited to swimming and running.

In my 20s and 30s I took many name-brand supplements with and without ephedra, before it was banned in 2004. Also, I exercised to the point of addiction, which resulted in multiple leg injuries. I tried some fad-dieting, and I was strangely happy to get ill if that state would decrease my appetite.

The worst thing I did was several years of laxative abuse – I frequently took as many at six laxative pills a day, for months on end. Fortunately, this insanity has ended.

I’ve been a paying member of a well-conceived health program for over three years. I get weekly help on finding my own path through diet and exercise. Life is now a lot better. While I do want to get to that runner’s body, I realise that it’s a slow process, and I’m enjoying the path – even with its ups and downs.

In terms of other guys, what sort of physiques turn you on?

The physiques of other men I find most attractive are taller than me – 6’2” or over – muscular, and 30-40 pounds heavier than me.

As you get older, are you getting more comfortable or confident with your body?

I’m getting both more comfortable and confident as a I approach my body-mind ideal. There are some non-negotiable points – a low-sugar, low-carb, low-cholesterol diet and a fair amount of exercise. That’s what I need to maintain in order to keep myself together. These points are now fairly well integrated into my life – there is an amazing amount of peace and life-clarity that comes from having myself together, even if not perfectly so.