Mar 2, 2015
The Ideal Body
What exactly is an 'ideal body', and how do we get one?
The ideal body
We are increasingly bombarded by media images of the 'perfect' or 'ideal' body'. Of young men and women who have abs of steel and pecs to die for; the proud owners of sculpted legs and bottoms. Female models are six feet tall and stick thin. Their male counterparts are thick chested, with broad shoulders, small waists and long muscular legs. Celebrities are presented on beaches with a running commentary on how they have lost or gained 'weight'. Professional sports people have leapfrogged from the back pages to the front and are now cultural icons and physical idols. And we are conditioned to think that all of these bodies are both 'normal', and attainable with a little bit of work in the gym.
The truth is that many of the model/celebrity images we see are very often not 'real' at all. They are presented as products like any other and as such are packaged in the most attractive way. The images are carefully crafted, photo shopped, professionally lit, sliced and diced and served up for our consumption. They simply serve a commercial purpose and are all about the 'aesthetic' - the body as something to be adored, and revered. Professional athletes do little else other than train, eat and sleep yet when we view them and compare their bodies to our own, we can feel inadequate and imperfect. Worse still, younger people can even begin see themselves as abnormal; there has been a worrying growth in body dysmorphia in recent decades as both sexes focus on the body aesthetic at the expense of the functional.
Yet our bodies are designed for a functional purpose; we have been made to move, to jump, run, swim and climb. To push and pull, lift and carry. To do more than catwalk and pout. It's therefore the functional that physical training programmes need to focus on rather than simply the aesthetic. Chasing the latter can often lead to poor nutrition, compulsive training patterns, perpetual disappointment and even psychological issues. Shifting the emphasis to the functional allows us to properly consider how our bodies work, and what they can achieve. When we train in a structured and progressive way the body adapts and develops, and aesthetic changes occur naturally.
Working with clients to ensure they understand this approach is a key aim. It doesn't matter if we 'weigh' less if our bodies cannot carry out day to day tasks or, in some cases, perform athletically. Weighing less is often the aim and overall result of diets, as dieting usually encourages the body to eat away at muscle. Weighing less might allow clothes to fit better but if that's at the expense of functionality then what is the point? Skinny and weak comes second to athletic and strong every time.
Our bodies are all the same, yet they are all different; we can't escape our genetics. What we can do is to fuel them adequately with natural, unprocessed foods, give them adequate rest and recovery and ensure that they are physically challenged by training programmes which are individually designed, and specific to our needs. We are then more likely to be comfortable with who we are. Feeling good about ourselves and how we perform should be the goal and, once achieved, is the closest we will get to having the 'ideal' body.
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