Body Image Part 1

by Alicia Capellan

“O-M-G it’s almost summer and we need to get our bodies ready for the beach!”

“Ahhhhhhh! I have to start working out now that I’m in my friend's wedding party!”

“I only have 2 months until I go on my cruise! I can’t go looking like this!”

“I need to get back in shape, because my wife doesn’t seem interested in me anymore.”

“I have this dress that I wore in my 20’s and I want to be able to wear it again.”

“I hate my stomach… my arms… my torso is short…”

"Just stop hating yourself!!!" - I want to say as I rip a chunk of hair out of my head. Over the last 9 years of personal training, I have witnessed all the insecurities that we allow to imprison us.

Am I right?! It is what everyone and their mamas have showed us since we could look at ourselves in a mirror, analyzing our “flaws”. Obsessing over them, hoping we can be a more perfect version of ourselves.

But who are we comparing ourselves to? What is it that makes any part of our body considered to be flawed?

This topic may seem to strike a chord with most women, but men face the same issues. During my time as a trainer, I have seen and heard from men who struggle with their body image and the pressure they put on themselves to look a certain way. We may not hear this perspective from men as much, because society tells men that they should be confident, macho, and need to face life's struggles on their own.

As for women, society tells us to share our feelings, it is okay to complain and discuss how we want to fit into the mold of what we are told is “beautiful," sticking to a criteria of impossible features that have been burned into our minds. It is a mentally and emotionally exhausting part of everyone’s lives.

Can you remember a time in your life that you have hated your body? Fearing/hating food, or viewing it as your best friend and stress reliever? Hating yourself for indulging too much? Can you remember the things you have done just because you were not living up to the potential of what you thought you should or could look like? Are there memories that come to your mind that made you feel judged by the way you look? Was there a moment in time that you let your body control your personal life or even would let it affect your personality in front of friends or family?

Puberty is an especially delicate time and can take a toll on everyone. Trying to figure out who we are, while so much is changing, is an incredibly confusing, stressful, and awkward time. Being called hurtful names and teased in school for our appearance imprints on us insecurities that may last the rest of our lives. It is often the bully redirecting their own feelings of self-loathing onto someone else. Some kids fall behind, simply not developing as fast as others and feel the pressure to look like their peers.

Getting into high school and trying to figure out your own style while your body is still changing was an awkward nightmare. Trying to fit in while hormones are wreaking havoc on us is not easy! It is no wonder these are the years many people would rather forget.

Our awareness of our body image is at a all time high. Young girls and boys are looking for people who they can aspire towards. We look to our role models, peers, the media, and older kids to see what we should be like as an individual. We learn at a young age to compare ourselves to others, bringing along all this negativity as we fail to reach the impossible - being someone else.

It amazes me how we feel the need to lose a certain amount of pounds for something other than ourselves. We do it to “get ready” for a vacation. For someone else’s wedding. To attract a partner. Of course, we want that feeling of looking good because the pictures will last forever. But, to what lengths will we go to make our bodies change or hit a specific number on the scale? Do we really believe everyone else around us will care or love us so much more? Do you think the people that really matter in our lives would say, “ I love you so much more this week because you lost those 3lbs”?

We must be more realistic when it comes to WHY we lose fat, and WHY we train our bodies for performance or to build muscle. We need to re-train our minds to see the importance of our health. Our bodies are our most valuable possession. Our health can be seen through our skin, eyes, posture, and ability to move around beautifully!

We need to learn to compare ourselves to ourselves rather than what others point to as perfection. If we strive to do better today than we did yesterday, should we really need more than that to feel fulfilled? If doing our best is not good enough, I am afraid we will never find peace and we will never be good enough for ourselves.

To be continued...