Body Image Issues
Have you ever had one of those weekends where you just ended up looking back at your life and wondering how outside influences shaped your life? This weekend I watched a documentary on steroids called Bigger, Stronger, Faster directed by Christopher Bell.
This documentary is about the use of anabolic steroids as performance enhancing drugs, but it is also about body image. In the documentary, when the director was little he watched wrestling and movies and wanted to be like his heroes. Those heroes being the wrestlers of the 80’s, including Hulk Hogan and action movie stars like Arnold Schwarzeneggar. How he wanted to look and be like them and how that would make his life better.
The documentary talks a lot about steroids and their effects on the body, but I came walking away thinking about body image and how as little kids we have this ingrained ideal of the perfect body and where we need to be and my own weight loss struggles.
Before I started really exercising I was not satisfied with my body, I am still not, but I was happy with my life. I would eat food that was horrible for me, and I was putting myself into an early grave, but I didn’t realize how bad I got. Then I saw a picture, it was the picture that changed everything. It was a picture of me and my son at Disney World and I was very heavy. I saw that and changed my life. I changed my diet and found a passion for exercise. I have dropped between fifty and sixty pounds, depending on the week, but I am still not happy. I have love handles that I hate – first on, last off sucks – and I don’t have the six pack I would love to have.
I should be happy, right? I have lost a lot of weight and I am wearing medium shirts and have a 34 inch waist and I have really improved my running. However, I have such horrible body weight/image issues that I yo-yo between depression a lot – especially if I eat badly.
So, how did we get here? Women and Men both have body weight issues. We know that for sure. Eating disorders in men are on the rise in the US. In the 90’s ten percent of men were dissatisfied by their bodies, and now there are estimations that twenty five percent of men are that way. Then you look at women and eighty percent are dissatisfied with their bodies.
Everywhere we look we are shown the ideal body image from movies to magazine covers. You have TV personalities like Dr. Oz peddling weight loss pills and admitting they don’t pass ‘scientific muster’ see here. You have these big personalities selling miracle pills that may do more harm than good.
Then you look at the male action hero, and body fat percentages are so low that you can’t keep up with the ideal of Hollywood. This article on Building a Bigger Action Hero sums it up, the six pack isn’t enough. The article shows how the image of the action star has changed so much that they have to be ready to drop body weight at a moment’s notice and how the action stars of yesterday are older now but more fit than they were ten years ago.
Have you ever used a BMI calculator? It takes your height and weight and calculates if you are a normal weight or if you are overweight. According to my BMI I am overweight and according to it I would need to lose 6 more pounds of “weight” to be in the normal weight category. It does not look at my muscle mass or anything else. The official numbers don’t help and they can be horribly skewed. One thing I would recommend is getting your body fat percentages. When I look at this I am in the normal category.
The ideals for our kids are getting to be almost unobtainable. How do we get passed this? Is it too late for us and do we need to save the children? With our children we need to let them know to be happy with where they are and show them body images that are healthy. I don’t know if it is too late for us, I wrestle with this myself every day. My wife says I look good; my coworkers and family say not to lose any more weight. Yet, I am unhappy when I see those love handles.
I can’t tell you to be happy with where you are, because I am not happy with my body, but I can say even doing anything is better that sitting on your couch watching TV and eating junk food. Try to get to the point where you are healthy. As we have seen, exercise is good for you, read how running 5-10 minutes a day affects you, and so is watching what you eat. I just have to say, everyone is important, try to be happy with yourself, and teach your kids to be happy with themselves. Do you have any advice for those struggling with body weight issues?