Muscle pudgy is the term that came to me recently while I was at the gym looking at the other patrons and noticing that a lot of dudes, no matter how much they lift weights, still have a nice layer of fat over their big yet undefined muscles. Having made this observation, I have to be careful lest I become a hypocrite, as I am borderline muscle pudgy. I go to the gym, I lift weights, and I have a little bit of a gut. One thing, however, that currently saves me is that at 6 feet 4 inches, I tend to hide my extra 20 pounds moderately well. Of course, this will last only so long, since my aging metabolism is slowly working against me.
The thing about muscle pudgy is that I can’t help but read it as an expression of American decadence. We are a culture of abundance, and convenience, and in such a place discipline and self-control is not readily encouraged. Yes, regularly going to the gym can certainly be an expression of discipline, but somehow our gyms seem to fit all to nicely into our fast food landscape. It would not be too odd, in other words, to see somebody leave the gym and on the way home stop by a Starbucks drive-thru to order a vente (20 oz) vanilla latte, but hey, at least it would be served with lowfat milk.
Shooting from the hip, my guess is that the connection between the gym, Starbucks, and decadence is a kind of schizophrenic me-ism that is obsessed with giving the self all it wants while at the same time trying to achieve the ideal self. The problem is that achieving ideals often requires the opposite of indulgence: sacrifice, and this is what we Americans have a hard time accepting. Related to this is that both the indulgence and the achievement of the ideal are centered upon the self, and this is not how humans were made to function. To summarize the Christian tradition, our very being was made to spin in orbit around God, and thus when we are not in this orbit we become subject to all types of disorders and contradictions. So, in the end, muscle pudgy is just one expression of the contradiction that exists at the center of our common and individual humanity.
In saying all this, I have to acknowledge that some of those muscle pudgy dudes likely have the misfortune of a generally slow metabolism, and so, I don’t want to assume that all pudginess is directly correlated to a lack of discipline. In fact, I probably shouldn’t make any kind of personal judgment regarding muscle pudgy people, as I don’t have the full picture, and its really not my place. And yet, the prevalence of muscle pudgy does seem to be symptomatic of some kind of cultural disorder.
Oh well, the one thing I can do is work on the borderline muscle pudgy dude I see in the mirror, because I do happen to know that he struggles with discipline and indulgence.