My workout routine has given me a lot of things to think about. One of those things is "Holy crap it is hard to get six pack abs." Seriously! I started off doing three sets of crunches, 20 per set. Now I am up to 120 crunches per set, and I can feel the difference. My stomach is so much stronger, and when I poke myself I can feel the muscle underneath, shaped exactly like a superhero six pack. Those muscles are there.
But on the surface? Nothing. No change. My body doesn't bulk up easily in any case, but apparently six pack abs are a pipe dream for me. Now I have to figure out if I was doing all those crunches for core strength or just vanity, because if it is just vanity it was for no gain.
The other thing that is weird is how people react to me being stronger. I don't look much different (adding 10 pounds of muscle on a 175 pound frame is a little noticeable when I am naked, but not much of a thing when clothed) but sometimes people figure out the differences and then everything becomes odd.
I was up at the cottage and people were talking about what to do with a really big rock that was sitting near the dock, somewhat in the way. Apparently my brother in law and father in law had tried together to move it and couldn't budge it, so people were tossing around ideas for what could be done.
Of course I suggested that I could just move the rock myself, and people laughed and told me it was impossible.
Naturally this meant that I would push myself to the point of injury to move the bloody thing.
I got a good look at the rock, and upon closer inspection I was pretty sure I could not move it. At the time I took a rough stab that it weighed 700 pounds, but honestly I don't know. I couldn't wrap my arms around it, not even close, so I jumped into the water, grabbed the rock, and put Passion in charge.
I think this must be a weird experience for other people. Passion, when trying to do something physical, is perfectly happy to grunt, groan, scream, and howl. This seems to help, but I think it is quite at odds with my normal Director behaviour.
I am about 80% stronger than I was before my workouts started, so it is entirely plausible that I am stronger than brother and father in law, but I also have the advantage that I am only one person so I don't have somebody else to get in my way. However, the rock was at the absolute edge of my capabilities, and I could feel my whole body straining and creaking with the load. Over the course of a couple of minutes I managed to roll the rock over four times and get it to an appropriate resting place.
It felt wonderful. I was filled to the brim with adrenaline, tingling from top to bottom. My body hurt, but it hurt so good. My arms were bruised and cut but all I could feel was victory. The thrill of overcoming a challenge just poised at the edge of possible is wonderful, doubly so when surrounded by people who five minutes ago were assuring me it was beyond my capabilities.
For the next day my lower back and right shoulder were a bit sore and my arms are pretty nearly healed now, but otherwise there were no casualties. However, minor injuries were not the interesting result. The neat thing was how different people were around me.
It was generally really small, tiny differences in stance or attitude. Something that an outside observer would never notice, because it required a lot of experience to realize. People were acting differently based on the fact that I am stronger than before. They stood next to me in ways that were shifted, somehow. They spoke to me in phrases that just had something tiny different in them, but not so much different that I could articulate it. That change in perception altered all of the ways that I relate to people, and did it in a way that is barely detectable... but definitely exists. I only noticed the difference after people saw me move the rock, so I don't think it is attributable to me acting in a new way, it seems it really is just other people changing their models of who I am.
I think this is a major blind spot for me. I haven't changed much in my life. My mode of dress, presentation, size, and other basic factors have remained the same by and large. Compared to many people I am static, both physically and otherwise, so I wouldn't be exposed to sudden shifts in the way I am viewed or treated very often. People who have gone through much greater changes like, for example, coming out as gay or transitioning in terms of gender would have a grasp of this that I lack completely.
In theory I might have been treated differently when I came out as polyamorous, but since I had been out to many people in my life before the official coming out day on this blog it is a hard thing to measure. My relatives might well have treated me slightly differently, but if you only see someone once every couple of years you can't detect such a shift unless it is blatant, and it never was.
I suppose I have seen this in one very stark way - going barefoot. That is an easily changed thing, but definitely shifted people's reactions radically from polite indifference to overt hostility in only moments.
This all shouldn't surprise me - I change who I am slightly, and others react in minor but noticeable ways. It was an unusual thing in my life though, and it gave me a peek into how challenging it must be to make changes that radically alter how other people see and treat you.
It does make me wonder how these differences would play out based on obvious and not obvious strength. If I had huge arms would it matter more? Are the greatest differences associated with the appearance of strength, or the actual application? I wish I knew.