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Getting buff during deployment
Military spouse
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Lots of grunting, testosterone and masculinity — that’s how my husband describes his daily time at the gym, accompanied by a hearty guffaw. Each day, he and most of the other soldiers he works with, make their way to the weight room. Some go with the goal of losing weight, finally getting past that overweight profile. Others go with the intention of bulking up, losing those scrawny figures they sported stateside.
Whether they’ve spent their day working a 12-hour guard shift or playing video games in their room, most of the guys make their way to the gym at some point, minds set on a good work out. Many go together and follow the same workout rotation schedule, competing with one another or keeping each other accountable.
Obviously, this isn’t a new development. Guys have spent their free time getting buff for the duration of this war. Scraggly boys come back with bulging biceps, all courtesy of the gyms in Iraq and Afghanistan. My husband seems determined to return with twice the muscle mass he had when he left. And though I’m not a huge fan of the Arnold Schwarzenegger look, I’ll deal with the extra muscle if that means a productive way for my husband to spend his free time and let out his pent up frustrations.
But for some, this weight lifting seems to form into an obsession, an obsession with how strong they are compared to others, how they look compared to others, how skilled they are compared to others. And though the competition of it can be motivating, it can also be damaging.
The role of the military spouse in this, I think, is to reassure their soldier that they are loved the way they are. We, especially women, tend to think that we’re the only ones who need those reassurances, that we’re the only ones who struggle with insecurity. But it’s our job, especially in the midst of testosterone-driven competition, to remind our soldiers that we love them, regardless of muscle mass.

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