Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Body Image

Girls played with Barbie and boys with GI Joe.
This is the image we were trained to admire at a young age. Is
this the acceptance of society and our belief of being healthy?

I can take this back to when I used to play with dolls (hence why I posted a picture of Barbie with GI Joe). Guys, remember GI Joe? And ladies, remember Barbie? Didn't all the little girls at one point want to be like Barbie, find a Ken, and live happily ever after? Well, wake up! That's fake. Make believe.  Ok relax, I’m not THAT cold. I'm not talking about the fairy tale romantic view of happily ever after; that can happen! I’m talking about being Barbie and meeting Ken. Boys became obsessed with the physique and strength of GI Joe. Of course a boy would hope to grow up and look just like him. Please, it’s time to wake up. Besides the fact they are plastic, it’s not a realistic look. We are all shaped differently. Men and women come in different sizes and shapes. I feel like I’m about to teach a geometry lesson. There are different shapes that society categorizes us by, females in particular.  Let’s just use them for visual purposes.  There is the pear, the apple, the hourglass, and the rectangle. See, they’re all different! Men, they have some for you too. There's the triangle, rectangle, oval and pyramid shape.

Women Shapes

Male Shapes

"Body image is the way you see yourself and imagine how you look. Having a positive body image means that, most of the time, you see yourself accurately, you feel comfortable in your body, and you feel good about the way you look."

When it comes to fitness goals, I think people succeed when they learn to appreciate their own body image instead of wanting to look like someone else. In order to become the best version of yourself, you need to be challenged!  Everyone is different, and has different body types and genetics. I might be lucky to have nice built legs. But when it comes to shoulders, I’m definitely lacking.  That doesn't mean I quit. I keep going and learn to value the slow changes. Yes, it’s ok to admire others and look up to them for motivation. In my field as a personal trainer, I too often hear "I want abs like him" or "I want a booty like her". If they can have it, so can you right? Yes and no. Yes because anyone can have abs. Get down to a low enough body fat and BAM…abs. But your structure won’t be the same and your thickness depends on how much muscle you have. If you work hard, you’ll see the changes and can develop your look from there. Ladies, let’s talk about booty. If a girl holds more body fat in that area than you, then that’s how her body works! But it doesn't mean you shouldn't hit those hamstrings harder, which most people neglect.  The hamstring is the main reason your glutes appear higher and bigger (keep that in mind).

Squats are favored by many, but go deep enough!
Make sure you engage those hamstrings.

Okay men yes, this is visually appealing. But to get the abs to come out,

diet is key! Start slow. It's not about doing 1000 crunches a day!

It’s very easy to put all the blame on society in regard to our image. Let’s face it, society definitely plays a big role. Take it back to before the 1900's when being thick was more of a desire. You can read this article on the Renaissance period. Now it’s the opposite. Society says you're too fat! What influences us? Men look at male models in magazines and admire muscles because they assume it’s what women are sexually attracted to. On the other hand, women can be obsessed with their weight because of the amount of pressure we feel to look a certain way. It’s a judgmental world. It seems that everyone is trying to compete with each other. Between TV, the magazines, your family, co-workers, and especially the acceptance of men, it seems like everyone is in competition with each other. Women feel the need to do anything to be "accepted". This is why I fell in love with bodybuilding.  After seeing what “skinny” looked like on me, I wasn’t happy.  I fell in love with the feminine, yet muscular physique known as figure in the NPC category for bodybuilding.  I wanted to stand out, not blend with the typical crowd. This new found passion of mine brought me sanity. Disregarding what's "normal" to society and just focusing on myself. I am my own competition.

The main problem with men and women is that they try to pursue a beach-ready body having no long-term goal. Just trying to achieve what they believe society accepts. This isn’t likely going to be the main reason to keep you driven on obtaining long-term goals. It might help to get you started or to just do a crash diet. To truly fulfill and enjoy the relationship with your body, you must focus on your internal experience first, not external.

Ok, I’ll contradict myself a little... feeling sexier will motivate you! But it's not what will keep you in a fitness program for the long-term. It needs to be more in depth to keep you there. You have to love what you're doing! If not, you'll likely quit, or starve for the rest of your life. So let’s get you feeling sexier but overall learning how to keep that motivation.  Stop caring about society and their acceptance. Figure out your goals and what you want. Who cares on the opinions of others? Most likely people will think you’re getting too skinny, too fat, or too muscular. Whatever the case, choose your liking and as long as you’re doing it healthy then that’s all that matters. I personally don’t mind hearing the opinions from friends, family, even strangers. I take everyone’s advice, but in the end I choose my own path. Of course my weight fluctuation usually isn’t comparable to the average Joe. Competing makes us take it to the extreme and we know it’s unhealthy. Thankfully, it's short term and has more benefits then down falls. This is also a good point to share out with the world…don’t compare yourself to an athlete! We are in a different category and have to go to another level to achieve our look. Strive to reach your own realistic goals.

            Once you're on your way to the new fit you, body image might get worse. You just might be a new you! A version of yourself that’s more positive, full of life, and with a new mindset on body image.  Or, you might just want to try to be an over achiever and go to the extreme of getting lean. One thing I can say is I feel bad for bodybuilders.  Of course this is my opinion, but once you've reached being the leanest you’ve ever been…any weight gain at all will have you thinking that you’re fat. Being lean is probably the best feeling, but mentally screws you up! As you get deeper into the sport, you get a better at understanding of the needs of building mass and gaining weight. As well as realizing it’s neither realistic nor healthy to keep stage weight. For the majority, we don't have to worry about being extremely lean unless you're doing a show. With this being said, I just thought I should post on body image because we need to be realistic and not try to be an overachiever; especially if it's not in your needs. Just try to be healthy and take it from there.

My competition look; to reach this you must take your body to another level.

My crazy selfie. A more realistic look; offseason, easy to maintain.

We are all driven by physical attraction and to what society says is "in". But if you're really serious about health, get serious on your approach and try to reach your goals. Gain strength without looking for short cuts because they usually don't end up good. You can’t outsource what society perceives on it; it’s you who must figure out what rocks your world, and then make sure you get more of that. To be blunt, health and fitness can easily be compared to sex. It can all be done in a way that actually increases your desire to do more. You just have to teach yourself to want it, by giving yourself something worth achieving!

A helpful tool to get you started is to keep a journal. Not to just track foods, but your emotions too.  This lifestyle doesn't have to feel bad. Unless you're an athlete or have a deadline, look at this with no expiration date. Write how you feel and make adjustments, whether it is to adjust your foods or your workouts.  If there's no rush then there is less stress. With less stress you will LOVE it more. People are usually amazed by my energy level, even when I'm at a big deficit. I feel it’s because it’s all mental. Put your mind on a positive track and you'll feel great.  Even bad days shouldn't be so bad. Find something you love to do. For me, its weight training or some type of physical activity (and of course extra coffee works too).  Learn what MOVES you!

I was definitely that young girl who admired many women who had a physique I desired. Young and dumb, that is, because I was scared of muscle and didn’t want to weight train (read my BIO). I guess like many women, the thing I cared about most was my weight going down on the scale. If the numbers weren’t dropping, something must be wrong, right?! Let me first say muscle takes less space than fat. We don’t get buff like men at all; you need to take a lot of drugs for that. I personally love my body feeling tight. I feel sexy, strong, and powerful. I guess the scale only affects me so much now, because I know muscle weighs more than fat. I think muscle might be the cure for self-image problems. Of course I'm no doctor, it’s just my theory. You feel like a different person but in a great healthy positive way. This is why I love the three Fs. Fit, Focused, and FABULOUS; because it’s exactly how you feel as you’re accomplishing your goals. You need to love the challenge and be willing to experiment. 

My recommendation:
  • Love yourself
  • Put yourself first
  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Use your success as your motivation
  • Make realistic goals
  • Think long-term goals
  • Get help if you need it!

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