Body Image vs. Self Image: A Self Discovery?

Body Image vs. Self Image: A Self Discovery?
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Body Image vs. Self Image; A Self Discovery?
Robert Reames, CSCS, CN, CES/FNS/CPT

If you've ever looked at celebrities in the media and thought to yourself; "does she really look like that? Is he that perfect?" The answer to these and other questions like this; highly doubtful. I think it started back as early as the 40's and 50's the onset of the "glamour" days in Hollywood. The "looks" of the media stars seem to set the tone and the quest for the flawless. Sometimes even when a healthy weight is achieved there are still parts of our bodies that in our thoughts don't quite meet a level of beauty that the media and the fitness industry somehow has convinced us that we need to reach. As technology continues to develop so has the ability to enhance looks of perfection. In reality these folks you see in the media are just like you and me. Airbrushing, great lighting, make-up, photo shopping, injections, plastic surgery, extreme dieting prior to a movie, TV or photo shoot and other techniques are all used to create these illusions. Extreme measures many times are taken to create "the look." This is the "glamour machine" in action. Then most likely, after the production or photo shoot because they're human just like you and me it's beer and pizza and or whatever the individual preference of indulgence may be.

That said, let's talk about your body image and how this image has a huge impact on your self image. I mention the above because this concept tends to drive our thoughts, inner dialogue and self perception. These images often create unachievable expectations and sometimes can cause one to say; "why even bother?" The tendency is not to acknowledge your own individual progress or personal best because it's not perfection. It's important to shift the focus towards your individual goals and needs and what you can accomplish. And shift away from what is presented by the Hollywood glamour machine, the cover of the fitness magazine at the newstand or that skinny person down the street who can eat everything in site and not gain a pound. Own the fact that you are a unique being. Achieve your own personal best and not someone else's. Your goals are real and valid. Own your own unique gifts and lead with these gifts; these talents. Be that electric person in the room who just knows who you are, is grounded and passionate about what you bring to this life. Think about it; there's nothing more attractive than that. You're not a failure or a bad person (self image) because you've gained a few pounds. (body image) The fitness industry contributes to this as well. This focus on external body perfection has always been a peeve I have with the business and I continue to work hard to shift this focus. The emphasis tends to be on the external while ignoring internal benefits and a return to health. Not that we all don't want to look our best...that's a huge benefit of taking great care of ourselves. However, getting optimum numbers on our yearly physicals, quality longevity, exuding a healthy glow, having mobility to play with our kids and grandkids, climb stairs, being able to mow the lawn, shovel the snow or haul the groceries in at night needs more attention. Obesity with adults and kids and healthcare costs in America are all dramatically rising every year. So the approach of the sheened up body under perfect lighting after fasting for two days is clearly not working. It never worked for any long term.

So what is body image? It's a reaction you have within in response to what you see in the mirror or a picture. This encompasses the perceptions and things you tell yourself about how you feel about your body. You're too fat, too thin, ugly, old, bloated and tired, average, amazing, fit, beautiful or whatever you tell yourself based on what you see. This is your body image. Self image is how we feel about ourselves as people, as human beings. It's who you are as a person from the soul; self esteem. If you're a good giving and caring person, a good parent, a great friend or sibling. Body image and self image for most everyone go hand in hand. You may have great body image but a poor self image; poor self esteem. Or you may have the opposite. Ultimately you want a healthy and positive image of both. If you've looked in the mirror and punished yourself for what you see based on the fact that you've let your health go and gained weight you get what I'm talking about here. Because you've let yourself go (body image) you've deemed yourself as a total failure in life. (self image) The fat on your hips and thighs, your flabby midsection, the chubby arms...these are not who you are. (body image) And because you may have let yourself go for whatever reason, you're still the same loving giving person that you've always been. (self image) Your friends, family and loved ones around you know and embrace this as well. I've said before that being overweight for the most part is always the result of something much bigger; an injury that caused you to become inactive, a traumatic event, your need to be protected by the fat suit, depression, loss, a bad relationship or any other reason in life that took you in the wrong direction health wise. These events and the current result of being overweight again are not who you are. No need to punish yourself. And newsflash; If you're overweight you have the power within you to do something about it.

Your body image now may not be so much that you hate yourself and where you are now. But more a feeling of disappointment that you've not kept the standards that you really do have for yourself. You've let yourself go. Truth is if these standards didn't exist in you, your poor body image due to being fat and out of shape wouldn't bother you at all. You'd be fat, bloated, happy and loving life. Tap your resources and put this in motion. Raise your standards, alter your perspective and move forward one step at a time but continue the move forward. Focus on your goals, your passions, your inner goodness and not the illusion of the media machine.

Avoid a "diet" as these are temporary plans that yield temporary results. If you're not going to commit to a level that you can commit to or do it right you're better off to stay overweight until you decide that you're ready to do it. Then make the changes necessary to embrace a lifestyle that will get you to your goal weight and keep you there. Ultimately you to learn what I call the "skill of weight control." Determine a weight that you realistically can attain and sustain and work with that. And this perspective will continue to have ebbs and flows. That's okay. Just stay conscious and real about what you are willing to do.

It's keeping standards high for the choices you make on a daily basis. Heck yes you'll look good...absolutely! Enjoy and flaunt this great pay-off. But go even deeper on this for yourself, your health and how you'll feel. Your energy levels will soar and there is so much out there in life that awaits you. At your physical the doctor hands you tremendous results. If you have kids, nieces or nephews you're going to turn around one day and they'll have kids. You want to begin now to enjoy these times later. And yes; you'll be able to wear those benchmark jeans! Don't wait for tragedy to wake you up forcing you to play catch up. Get off the couch and take action now. You don't have to be perfect just be you. "Acknowledge all progress" as I say. You'll feel better and who doesn't want that? Love your body and who you are. Get in the game and enjoy the journey!

-Head Trainer for The Dr. Phil Show (14th season)
-Pear Sports Coach for Pear Mobile Personal Coaching Audio/Heart Rate Training System Download the free App at the App Store or Google Play
-Pear Pro System Coach
-TPI (Titleast Performance Institute) Level 3 Trainer
-Co-creator of the Lean For Life by Lindora Fitness App for Pear Sports
-Spokesperson for the VEEP Nutrition System (The Visual Eating and Exercise System)
-12 year Member of the renown Gold's Gym Fitness Institute
-Host of "Robert Reames Live!" radio/video podcast at and available on Itunes

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