By CRAIG W. ARMSTRONG
There is an old phrase, “to see ourselves as others see us.” Unfortunately, we can’t, and when it comes to our body image, we are, without a doubt, our harshest critics. Body image issues can affect men and women, boys and girls. Men seem to struggle less, and there is a double standard. Our society has a way of putting pressure on women to be thin, beautiful and perfect, whereas men have more leeway to be overweight and unkempt. Either way, both sexes can suffer from a negative body imagine.
Everyone wants to look his or her best, but that is not always possible. We are bombarded with images of “perfect” people in entertainment and sports who appear to be flawless. Keep in mind there are a few things happening here. First, the images you see are more than likely altered to make these people look their best. Combine this with lighting, hairstyles, makeup artists and Photoshop and you have the “perfect” person. Second, consider that these folks have trainers and chefs who cook them nothing but healthy food and drag them out of bed to work out. Finally, think about the sacrifice they make to look like that. It is not uncommon to hear performers tell stories about how they starved themselves for a certain role or to look a certain way. Does that sound like real life to you?
The point is what you see around you is not necessarily reality. For this reason you need to put your body in perspective and give yourself a break. Many people believe that change comes from the inside. You have to accept who you are and work to better yourself, not just your appearance, but your overall health.
Start with a good foundation. This means seeing your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to take this journey. See a dietitian or do your homework on what you should and shouldn’t eat. Find out what type of exercise program works for you.
It’s important to realize that losing weight and getting healthier will not happen overnight and quick fix diets and exercise apparatus don’t work. The answer is simple, eating right and exercising, which is anything but simple. You didn’t become overweight overnight and you won’t be able to reverse it overnight. You must be patient with the process and, more importantly, with yourself.
People who belong to Alcoholics Anonymous are very familiar with the phrase, “one day at a time.” The same philosophy can be used here. Did you eat well today? Did you exercise today? If so, that’s a win and puts you one step closer to your goal. There will absolutely be days when you don’t eat right and don’t exercise, and that’s okay! The key is to have more good days than bad. Consistency is the key. Don’t quit.
Speaking of consistency, nothing will throw you off faster than impatience. You will not see results immediately and it will take time. The easiest way to derail your consistency and give up is to weigh yourself or to expect too much too soon.
Being patient goes back to giving yourself a break.
The power to control your choices, good or bad, comes from inside. Taking on the challenge of weight loss can be anxiety inducing. You need to try and calm your mind, realize it is a journey and give it plenty of time. There will be good day and there will be bad days. Just don’t let the bad days turn into weeks and months. Always get back on the horse, as they say.
The weight loss game is 99 percent mental and your success lies within. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek help. You need positive reinforcement and role models. Use the resources available. You are a warrior and every warrior needs weapons.
Losing weight and getting healthy is a struggle for millions of people. This alone should tell you that it is not easy. To be successful look inside, give yourself time and don’t ever quit.