Southern Comfort

Nashville trainer Steven Shupe on how to reject shame and learn to love your body

This post is part of a series of Queerty interviews with models, trainers, dancers, and, well, people who can inspire the rest of us to stay in shape this holiday season and beyond.

Name: Stephen Shupe, (30, Shhh, don’t tell the others) (@shuperiorfitness)

Occupation: Besides training I do mostly odd jobs just to shake things up. I’ve been a wildlife spotter for a wildlife photographer because I grew up working with wildlife. I’ve done landscaping/gardening jobs because I love being outside, being creative and working with my hands.

Home: Nashville, TN

Favorite Gym: I, honestly, just prefer any gym with varied options for physical activity with plenty of the same equipment so I do not have to slow down my workout.

Favorite Work Out Song: I listen to a lot of my Daily Epic playlist which is action-oriented orchestral music. I favor an Electroswing playlist and a playlist with solely LGBTQ+ artists: Eli Lieb, Todrick Hall, etc.

Recommended Work-Out Foods: Eating should be done about 2 hours prior and should be a portion of whole foods that don’t make you feel stuffed. This is important because you won’t be storing fat while working out, which happens right after eating. Also, eating too much can make you lethargic and if you struggle with commitment to making it to the gym this would be a factor that prevents you from achieving goals.

This time window gives you time to relieve yourself before starting your workout as well. Since I would say a cup of coffee, or if you use a pre-workout formula, is good and you are someone affected by stimulants in a way that makes you need to relieve yourself then you need to do so before or after your workout. Working out can also expedite the need to relieve yourself and interrupting your workout is not optimal to gaining or losing, whichever is your goal.

Favorite athletic outfit:  Whatever makes you feel most comfortable; I can’t stress that enough. When you’re surrounded by others who are lifting more or may look more along the lines of what society judges as “ideal” or “beautiful” it’s perfectly natural to feel a wide range of emotional responses and they can be negative. So, wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, that can breathe and move and are made for wearing while you get fit and healthy.

How do you balance staying in shape and having fun? Honestly, it’s not as hard as you might think. Maintaining shape is pretty easy because you’ve already formed good habits. This is where personal trainers are helpful because we don’t just make you a workout plan, we help form good habits. How much alcohol if I go out on New Year’s because the chemistry involved in alcohol means it all pretty much gets converted to fat and if you like sweet cocktails that can be a lot of calories if you’re trying to lose. The quality of the food I’m eating and I don’t just mean fat, carbs, and protein. I also mean the cholesterol, nutrients and more of what I’m eating.

Now, if you’re thinking you’ve got to maintain model status or Chris Evans’ body after being turned into Captain America I’ll tell you to stop.

Tip for staying in shape: Commit to showing up and your diet. Showing up is most of the battle. The mentality is what it takes and sometimes you feel like putting it off but if you just get yourself to the gym you can put yourself in the mindset to exercise. Your diet is also a major part. If you’re trying to lose weight/fat then you can not be taking in high amounts of calories and fat. You need to burn more calories than taking in. If you’re trying to gain you need more calories but those need to be good calories that feed your muscles and the rest of you to avoid fatigue and burning off gains.

If you have no idea where to start on a diet then I would definitely recommend a nutritionist because trainers can guide you but unless we are registered dietitians/nutritionists we can’t make meal plans.

More helpful hints:

View this post on Instagram

There are days when I don't feel good about myself or my life. I know what it stems from. I know the source. It didn't come from me. It came from the unsupportive and abusive people around me. Where I should have felt love I was subjected to awful words and experiences. When I said as a teen that I wanted to bulk up, I was laughed at. When I said I wanted to compose music, I was told I had delusions of grandeur. I was only seen by one who wanted to validate their life or have their explosive, violent, angry outbursts. This lack of love is often the reason many gay men seek bodybuilding. To replace the love they never received from those they should have with adoration from people they don't even know. That's why I started, I think. I can't quite remember anymore. It's been a long time and now I just have a lifestyle built in. I became stagnant in my fitness because I think that I wasn't doing it for me, it was for everyone else to love me. But they only loved my body. Which, to me, seemed humorous because I didn't exactly love it. Then, one day, I accepted some important things. One of them being my body and being okay with gaining the bulking tummy. It's okay to me. I'll cut when I reach my goal weight. My point is that you have to accept things even if they're awful. If you're busy denying them then you're busy not building passed them. Even trainers can have hurt. Even when they're confident. DAT CHEST PUMP, THOUGH! #pecs #chest #chestday #chestworkout #bodybuilding #bodygoals #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodybuilder #gaybodybuilding #gaybodybuilders #gaybodybuilder #gay #gayfit #chestpump #pride #swole #sexygayman #sexygayguys #sexy #healthandfitness #fitnessmotivation #workoutmotivation #honesty #gaytrainer #personaltraining #postgymselfie #gaypersonaltrainer #trainerlife

A post shared by Shuperior Fitness (@shuperiorfitness) on