Pumped Up


“Well, you see… I was benching 300 pounds and felt something give in my right shoulder. It’s been hurting ever since.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Um.” He searched his memory. “Three months ago? Maybe longer.” He shrugged, then winced.

“Why the hell are you benching 300 pounds?” 

Did he really do that? Or was he maybe exaggerating just a smidge?

I mashed around on his shoulder, bringing on another wince, and walked him through some range of motion exercises to evaluate the joint further. This was his sixth injury from lifting in past 24 months. I had already told him he needed to back off a bit.

“I need to gain weight. I need more muscle.” 

He came from a long line of average height, thinly built people. He had already put on 25 pounds of muscle since the last time I saw him. Much more was going to be impossible.

“You are fighting genetics, you know. You are not going to be able to bulk up more than you already have without doing dangerous stuff.”

He look back at me, clearly horrified. “Oh, no, I’d never do that, Doc! But I’ve at least got to make my chest look good. That’s what the ladies want.” He puffed up his chest for effect.

“I’m a lady. That’s not what I want. I don’t think that is what most women want.”

He stared at me with a single eyebrow cocked up in disbelief standing out on his fresh-out-of-college face.

“So, what do women want, then?”

“Security. Respect. Love. Not necessarily in that order.”

He rolled his eyes and laughed. 

Had no one said this to him before?

“Sure, Doc….” His reply held a hint of sarcasm.

“Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate a man who takes care of himself, who stays fit. That in itself is an act of love, but having impeccable pecs is really not necessary. Pushing the envelope is really not necessary. A guy who says, ‘You need to carry the groceries in yourself, hon, because I can’t lift the sacks with my jacked up shoulders and I can’t walk with this bum knee,’ isn’t really sexy if he did it to himself.”

There was silence as I ordered an MRI in the computer. Thousands of dollars already spent treating his injuries, what was a few more?

Then he laughed.

“I guess you’re right, Doc.”

Damn right, I’m right.

“Just take it easy on your body. It has to last you the rest of your life…”


I have had several conversations like this over the past year. I talk a lot about how body image issues affect women but there is a ton of pressure for men, for boys even, and it is getting worse. A distortion and misrepresentation of what is possible and what is desired is being perpetuated by media, by people selling lies. 

Fight back, I say. 

Fight back.


87 thoughts on “Pumped Up

  1. Yep. Effed up body image and all its glory ain’t just for women any more. My ex was always tall and underweight and he and I had some interesting conversations about the similarities that situation had with being an overweight female. So it has been around for a while, but in this age of swipe left/right and vociferous “social” media trolling with body shaming, it has been getting worse.

    Meanwhile, as a quasi-ex-clinical massage therapist, these clients/patients were known as job security.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good for you in helping to spread the words that men and women need to hear!!!
    You are right, a lot of times we do think that women are more concerned about looks, but yes it does affect guys as well!!
    More Dr.s need to speak up like you! Unfortunately I know Dr.s who are all too willing to give your “patient” unhealthy stuff to “beef” him up!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So … question : I pre – op’ ed a really fit guy in his early forties; muscle bound , non smoker, non drinker per history with unusually high creatinine ( no reported renal history). His original lab work was a week before surgery. Anesthesia ordered a repeat profile day of surgery.
    I’m wondering …,. Possible steroid use affecting his kidneys?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. How does our whole world overcome this false sense of worth? I have seen the guys strut around obviously happy to show off their muscles, but muscles *never* mattered to me. It is the heart–the character and loyalty that always mattered to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember telling a friend (in my husband’s hearing) why I chose him above any other. It was for his devotion to truth, justice and good judgment. He was hurt that I didn’t say I chose him because he was good looking. Looks and bodies change. The barnicles of old age take over and then what does the “good looking” person have. None of that matters if there is no strength of character.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Damn, that guy really does put himself under pressure. That was also meant to be a pun but I don’t know if it worked or not. Thank you for sharing this. There is so much misconception and dangerous misunderstanding in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think you have this all wrong. You seem to think that modern boys are still turned on by boobs and a pretty face. Not a bit of it. Its steel I tell you – steel. The more studs you have the greater the attraction, studs in the nose, studs in the cheeks. studs in the eyebrows, studs everywhere.. Oh look, there’s an empty centimeter, I could get another stud in there. Phew, I am so glad Arrium ( Now Liberty OneSteel) has been saved.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Such a pity that we don’t attend etiquette or witty banter classes to find our mate. Teddy got a weight receipt at the doctors last week so ‘we’ are now eating better but he can still laugh me into bed. If I get a weight receipt I am going to tell them where to shove it…😁

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is another good example of why you should write a book and publish.
    Under an assumed identity of course. 300 pounds? And how much does he weigh? 150, 180? I did a bit of weights for many years, as exercise.
    Can’t do it anymore. Bad back. But my purpose was… exercise, stress relief, whilst many of the guys I saw just wanted to “bulk up”. To ridiculous proportions.
    I don’t think it is about women. I think it is Narcisism. (In one of its many guises)
    Ah… “Folly and ignorance”…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It has always been this way.. Every generation makes up it’s own notions of “the right image”
    From ancient paintings and writings, societies have struggled to meet with thier own current trends.. It shows how humanity has always been plagued with vanity and self absorption..
    The more “progress” humans make in tech and science, the worse our inner monster shows itself.. From unhealthy diets to horror show cosmetic surgery, the human race still clings to the addiction of “image”.. But since the human race still hasn’t learned to get along thru all of history, this shouldn’t be any surprise.. The ego is a stubborn force..

    Liked by 1 person

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