Summer is coming and I seem to see more and more men in my office talking about body image. It’s time we had a little chat. The whole six-pack, six per cent body fat, lift harder, train heavier stuff is all well and good, but not at the expense of your mental health. First and foremost I want you to know that I did a little research for this article and over 60 per cent of woman said that a guy having a six-pack is the least important thing about him. Health, on the other hand, is imperative.
Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to happiness and wellness. Many people have negative feelings about the way they look and they also have quite stringent ideas and feelings about how other people should look too. This is mostly due to living in a society and culture where having a certain body shape supposedly “means” something. For example, if we have a six-pack it must mean we are cool; if we have low body fat it must mean we are someone “in control” of their life. And yet none of these meanings we attach to a body shape is true.
Here are a few tips to get the sexiest part of your body right – I’m talking about your mind…
1. Calm down
Stressing out about your body is not helping you. The first thing you need to learn to do is get your head right. If you are constantly judging yourself and being hard on yourself it is going to make everything worse. It’s the judgement that creates the binge/restrictcycle. Remove your judgements and this means you LEARN so much more. Exploring why you think what you think about yourself, and asking yourself kinder questions, speeds up the process of understanding yourself and therefore helps change your perspective and behaviour. Judging yourself means you remain stuck and closed. Quit the judgement and explore your thinking.
2. You are more than the size or shape of your body
We are constantly bombarded with fake and unrealistic images – images that are photoshopped or “beefed up/slimmed down” – and the more we are shown these images, the more (unconsciously) brainwashed we become. Today’s society tells men that to be something i.e. cool, you have to have a six-pack. It’s not true. Quit conforming and start questioning. Question everything – who is telling you that to be “sexy” you have to be a certain size? Who is telling you that to be “hot” you have to have zero body fat? It’s likely to be a company trying to sell something to you via something you have seen, read or heard. Don’t forget you are living in a society which body-bashes all day long. Everyone is different and everyone has something about them that is sexy and hot.
3. “Healthy” is a better mindset
Start thinking about “health” rather than “size”. Start thinking about what is the healthiest thing you can eat, the healthiest thing you can think, the healthiest way to move. This is a much better way of thinking. Also remember, most “real” people look real: that includes scars, stretch marks and spots. Perfect does not exist so trying to aim for something that isn’t real is futile. Aim for healthy every time.