How many people out there are completely satisfied with their body image? Probably less than 1 percent. One study by the American Institute of Sports Science revealed that the number one reason people go to gym is to change the way they look, regardless of fitness and health concerns.
Because of today’s appearance-centred consciousness, we all undoubtedly hold an idealistic image of what we are supposed to look like in our minds. Yet, as stated above, few people possess this ‘desired physique’. Most of us are ordinary creatures with all the flaws and imperfections that go with being ‘ordinary’. Women, for example have a natural roundness and softness and tend to add more centimetres around the hips with age. In general, women are more dissatisfied with their appearance compared to men. A woman will most commonly complain about her thighs, buttocks and arms.
A man expresses dissatisfaction with his abdomen, upper body and calves. Sometimes the problem is more imaginary, other times it is real and ranges from a mild complaint about something like ‘love handles’, to a major preoccupation with flabby thighs, resulting in hectic dieting and obsession with exercise, both quite detrimental to overall health. Even athletes, both men and women alike, are not immune to these confidence and body image issues. Often, despite their fitness, they are unsatisfied with their body image.
How can we learn to accept and respect our bodies a little more, while still continuing to work towards improving our looks?

It’s a fact that we come in all different sizes and shapes, and most of these characteristics are hardwired into the DNA of each one of our body’s trillions of cells. Unfortunately, we cannot change our genetics (yet), making it largely a matter of “shake what yo’ momma gave ya”.
While it is indeed possible to alter your body composition to a certain extent, by loosing fat and replacing it with lean muscle mass, you cannot do a total makeover. Even losing the excess weight might not end leave you with the body you want.

Sound discouraging?
If you are a woman with large thighs, like most of the women in your family, or a man who does not have the broadest and most defined shoulders, in a family of men with generally narrower upper body builds, you need to be realistic in your expectations. Rather than obsessing about this and that, accept yourself for the sincere and caring person you are, appreciate your body for all the wonderful things it does for you and focus on the relationships in life your life that really matter. You can waste a lot of energy worrying about a perfect image, which is in fact, non-existent.
By saying that, I am not encouraging you to put exercise aside and give up your fitness goals! What I am saying is that we all have unique genetic programming, and are all inherently different. Accepting this fact is an important step toward changing your appearance for the better, within the frame and shape we are born with.

A young girl came to my class once because her boyfriend wanted her to look like a Pilates book cover model. I told her that she must participate in the class not because of her boyfriend’s crazy and unrealistic demand, but for her OWN enjoyment and satisfaction. She must change her mentality to one which supports the notion of exercising for health and fun, rather than one which is based entirely on fullfiling someone else’s expectations. I encouraged her to try and look like HERSELF, not like anyone else. I feel that this is an important experience to share, and for you to consider.
To put into perspective how irrelevant body shape is, think about who has been highly influential in your life. Does the look of this person’s body modify or improve your relationship with him/her in any way?
Keep in mind that your value as a partner, colleague, lover or friend does not depend on your look alone. Your true beauty comes from INSIDE! Being over-concerned about your body Image could be a sign of low self esteem and an internal belief that you are not good enough. Throw this notion out of the window, and live your life by your OWN definition!

-S

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