Most of us struggle with our body image either consciously or sub-consciously throughout our lives.
Consciously when we go to town with every available hair follicle stimulant to arrest and reverse the receding of the hairline or when we splurge on herbal teas, slimming pills to fight the battle of the bulge from our couches, expensive gym memberships/boot camps/cross fit, Keto or Paleo diets, tummy tucks, breast implants, nose reconstructions, butt enhancements, Botox treatments or something as simple and as ubiquitous as the dyeing of graying hair.
Sub-consciously when we hold our breath for an inordinate length of time and tuck in our tummies almost as a conditioned reflex when we see an attractive member of the opposite sex pass by or every time or when the camera is on us ready to capture our imperfect self and are miserable afterwards on both occasions.
It is a very complex and difficult issue to grapple with. It is as much an emotional and psychological issue as it is physiological. Dissatisfaction with ones body image leads to emotional distress which in turn in many instances turns into self-loathing and then chronic depression if left unaddressed. Low self-esteem is the Python that wraps around to asphyxiate and crush its prey.
Eating disorders are perhaps the first and most common symptom displayed by a person grappling with body image issues. Anorexia and Bulimia are the two most well-known eating disorders which fall at the extreme ends of the disorder spectrum and are characterized by starving oneself and binge eating followed by vomiting respectively. Then there are others like the binge eating disorder (BED) which is a mechanism by which people with low self-worth try and cope with their emotional tumult. A crutch which often becomes the curse of their lives.
Unhappiness is the common thread that ties all the victims of body image issues together. The burning desire for concave inner thighs, the search for cratered cheeks, the obsession with turning flabless overnight and the methods people adopt to achieve those lofty and unrealistic goals are all fraught with great peril and can precipitate long term harm on their bodies.
So what do we do?
The simple answer is exercise!
It is common knowledge that incorporating exercise into our daily routines can go a long way in not only making one healthier physically (reduction in bad cholesterol, shedding of excess weight which decreases the threat of diabetes substantially as well as reduces the chances of joint issues, better overall cardiovascular health etc.) but also a less commonly known fact is that it also makes us much more happier by way of relieving stress and lifting our mood. Exercise releases hormones called Endorphin which enhances our mood (mood elevator), it also interacts with the receptors in our brains and reduces our perception of pain thereby managing any emotional pain that we might be afflicted with.
Why don’t we exercise then?
It is a commonly held misconception that one has to spend inordinate amounts of time exercising in a fitness center performing complex workouts on equally complex contraptions to see any favorable results. Nothing could be further from the truth. The more time we spend obsessing about ways to miraculously turn from a size 16 to a size 8 in a matter of days the more we are setting ourselves up for disappointment which leads to depression and the onset of eating disorders to cope with this depression. Therefore, we must accept the fact that there are no short cuts and also realize at the same time that we don’t have to move a mountain every day to see the desired results.
The most important part of exercising is consistency and commitment. One should incorporate at the very least 15 minutes of exercise every single day of their lives the very same way one brushes their teeth every single day to prevent tooth decay or pyorrhea. Seriously, it is no different than that.
Just try and imagine what would happen to your teeth if you gave up brushing for 3 months at a stretch!! Apart from the actual damage and decay to the teeth would you also not feel less confident around people whilst aware of the bad breath that you now carry? Would this not cause unhappiness and emotional turbulence? Yes, it will. Then, why do it to your body?????
I think you kind of see my point now!
I know from experience that we don’t have a lot of time to spare in our busy lives for that trip to the fitness center or group classes. So what is the alternative?
This is the regimen folks; simple, straightforward and gosh darn effective which can be done where you live!
Run for 5 minutes or use a jump rope if you don’t have a running path nearby (2 minutes jog and then 3 minutes sprint around the neighborhood or park nearby)
Squats for 2 minutes
Jumping Jacks for 3 minutes
Push-ups for 3 minutes
Planks for 2 minutes
That’s it! No need to go to a fancy fitness center or expensive equipment required.
Do this for 3 months without fail as if you were brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Take a picture of yourself before you begin and take a picture of yourself after the 3 months. You will see yourself in a completely different light! The secret here is that as you go through this journey of self-improvement you will begin to notice that you are generally more confident, you generally display a more positive attitude at both work and home, you are less prone to mood swings and less fatigued at the end of a workday.
Your physical appearance is just one part of your body image. Your confidence, your can-do-it attitude, your smile and your energy are the others that make for that charming positive body image.
Stay fit, Stay Happy…………..