Ditch diets and dispel the ideal body-image myth

Many of us will have woken up on New Year’s Day with that familiar pang of self-loathing having over-indulged throughout December and decided that this is the very day to start that new diet, begin that new detox, attempt to get the body of our dreams.


In fact, 95 percent of people make a new year’s resolution. And yet, as we reach the end of the first month, it’s estimated that only 8 percent of people will have kept to their promise.

Personally, I will never advocate making a new year’s resolution which is based on fitness and weight loss; i.e. having a goal that is based on an absolute and a goal that is completely framed by negativity.


People tend to focus on things that they want to change about themselves and things they dislike about themselves. When you do this, you’re eliciting in yourself negative emotions which completely and undeniably stifle motivation.


Above all else, new year’s resolutions are based on us feeling that we do not fit the requirements of an ideal body shape, a major reason for which is in part due to the distorted perception of body image found ubiquitously on social media.

82 percent of women feel the beauty standards set by social media are unrealistic according to a recent study by Dove.


The same study also found that the average height and weight for a model is 5’10″ and 110lbs while the average height and weight for a woman is 5’4″ and 145 lbs. Considering that the average person sees approximately three thousand adverts and commercials daily and follows an average of forty models on the social media platform, Instagram it’s no real surprise that many people suffer from a distorted body image ideal.


The same can be said for young men and I am becoming increasingly aware as to how many young boys are suffering from body image problems. There have been so many studies recently on the use of steroids in teenage boys – they’re now, more than ever, under pressure to conform to a muscled stereotype and are equally bombarded with images of how they should look and behave.


The fact of the matter is that we’re all different and body ideals are a myth. Genetic diversity is a fact of nature.

Some men are predisposed to carry excess body fat, some men are lean and have no problem getting a six pack and some, like Eddie Hall have no six-pack but still epitomise complete health and tremendous strength.


I myself choose to exercise not to gain a six pack but to stay fit and healthy. I exercise to lift my mood, normalise my blood pressure, improve my quality of sleep, increase my self-esteem and become less prone to stress. Put simply, I exercise to maintain a quality of life.


The dramatic rise of media consumption by children and teens given the growing availability of internet access through smart phones and laptops is also of grave concern. On a typical day, children aged eight years old and upwards engage with some form of media for approximately seven hours. This collision of perception and reality exerts pressure and contributes towards a growing level of body dissatisfaction amongst children and teens and a future generation which will no doubt be haunted by the relentless pursuit to look a certain way.


Ultimately, my message is this. The only detox required in 2017 is from the toxic messages which define an ‘ideal’ body image. And the only resolution you should make from here on in is to treat your body as something to love and not loathe.


Many of us spend our lives fighting against our bodies, striving to meet an unrealistic weight goal.  When we do this, we split the mind from the body and our body can no longer function properly.  Viewing your body as an enemy creates a stressful situation and, as in any highly stressful situation, the body’s response is to slow the metabolism and stop the normal hormonal cycle.


You can spend your life being at war with your body and hating it, dieting, shaming yourself, using exercise as punishment, or you can embrace your body, move it for pleasure, for health and for mental wellbeing and live an exciting and uninhibited, liberated life.


I know which I’d choose.

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