Do You Like What You See? Body Image & Exercise


Have a look at the cover of the magazine in any newsagent  – and they are full of images of what they deem as the beautiful people.

Many will highlight which celebrities look amazing after losing loads of weight or put on muscle mass by following a particular diet or routine – but at the same time – will berate them for either putting on a little weight or looking too thin!

This is one of the hypocracies of magazines and everyone should be aware by now that most images are photoshopped to accentuate the best (or sometimes worst) aspects.

This is also true of a lot of before and after pictures that you see on adverts – even if they don’t use photoshop – a lot can be achieved by lighting and changing the size or fit of the clothing worn.

It’s unsurprising then that two thirds of adults have negative body image issues – for some it may be simply that there are one or two parts of their body they would like to change – for others this can become an obsession which they will try to resolve either through diet, exercise, surgery or all three!

34% of adolescent boys and 49% of girls have been on a diet to try and change their body or lose weight – even younger 1 in four 7 year olds worry about the way they look and have tried to lose weight at least once.

They are scary statistics and can lead to serious illnesses like anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphia.

Working as a Personal Trainer in a public gym – I see it a lot of it to various degrees from stick thin girls spending hours on the stair-machine to finding steroid paraphernalia in the locker rooms…..

For clients  – as well as asking WHAT a person is looking to achieve, more importantly I like to know “WHY” they want to achieve it – is it to look like someone else? Is it FOR someone else? Or is it for their own health & well being?

This will help to determine if what they want IS achievable! For example – losing 2 stone in 4 weeks for someone weighing 12 stone is going to be extremely difficult. Whereas an expecation of losing (or gaining) or 1-2lbs per week would be more realistic and healthier.

A person’s diet, weight, gender, age, attitude and genetics are all important factors that need to be taken into account and a good PT will look at them all and should be honest and set realistic expectations of results.

All PTs should be aware of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and body dysmorphia, and should approach the client with any concerns and refer them to a GP or counsellor if appropriate. We are always happy to listen to a your concerns and if you have any body issues be honest with us as this will also influence the dietary and exercise advice that we give.

The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation


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