Friday, January 27, 2017

'They choose to believe a lie'


Steve has been a body builder for over 20 years. Yesterday he met with us and shared his views about the unrealistic expectations of teens and adult males taking up bodybuilding for the first time.

“People come up to me and they say, I want shoulders, stomach muscles, arms or legs like yours; what do I have to do? They take it for granted that if they do what I do, that they will end up looking like me. I can take one look at them and know straight away that they will not make it; they simply don’t have the right genetics for example they are slim built.

“Men think that they can look at someone and say ‘I want to be like that,’ then work out and achieve the body they want, but many can't. Even if two brothers walking to the gym to start bodybuilding, there is no guarantee that they will both be able to develop muscle in the same way. People need to pay much more attention to genetics.

“There are body builders out there offering tips on how anyone can look like them; some make a lot of money from it, but it's a lie. These self-proclaimed experts may have the right genetics, used steroids or both, you just don’t know. If someone comes up to me and says they want to look like me and I don’t think they can naturally; I tell them the truth. I say, ‘you won't be able to look like me, but you can develop muscles and have the best body for you as an individual’. I’m talking about natural healthy development, without steroids.

“Do you know something? When I tell them the truth they don't want to hear it, because they want to believe that they can look like me or like anybody else; they choose to believe a lie”.

Steve’s observation makes it easy to understand how unrealistic muscle growth expectations could lead to body image issues, similar to what females experience.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

Your body is not an ornament, it’s a vehicle

When Taryn Brumfitt posted her before and after photos online, the action was very unusual because the before image showed a slim muscular body (body building competition) and the after portrayed a more natural, curvier, real picture of herself. The comparison post has been viewed millions of times online and spurred Taryn’s decision to create the documentary Embrace.

Speaking to the BBC Tara explained the reason for the photo and the documentary.

" Normally when we see a woman’s before photo she is overweight and she's really sad and then she loses weight and she miraculously becomes happy. We see these photographs over and over again. So I wanted to say, ‘do you know what, you can actually love your body before, during and after’. Health is not just physical, it's emotional health, it's mental health; it’s all of those things.”

Commenting on her perception of her post pregnancy body Taryn said: “I was going to have surgery to fix what I thought was my broken body, after I’d had three children. I was watching my daughter play one day and I thought, ’how am I going to teach Michaela to love her body if I can't love my body? If I have surgery, what message will that send to her?’ So I decided against it and I came up with this really great idea to enter a bodybuilding competition; my friends thought I was crazy! I was driving to have the perfect body and I wanted to know what that felt like. [When] I got on stage, I had this moment of this is too hard. It takes to much time and sacrifice and obsession. In that journey I learnt that my body is not an ornament; it’s a vehicle in life and there is so much more things to be concerned about and worry about and to do, rather than this constant obsession with how I look”.

Discussing some of the women she had met during the making of the documentary Taryn said: “It's heartbreaking. Wherever I travelled with Embrace from the Dominican Republic, a studio in Germany, here in the UK or America, it was the same. So many women are hating their bodies; they loathe their bodies and I wonder what that is doing for our society, having half the population being anchored down by these negative thoughts. How can you possibly be all the world needs you to be and all you want to be, when you are constantly battling with your mind….

“It [Embrace documentary] is about starting a conversation, a positive conversation where I am hoping that women hear not just my story, but also the many inspiring stories of women around the world. To[help them] make the choice to embrace their body, not be at war with their body and not be in a battle, because that's not fun".


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Feeling you are not good enough

19 year old athlete and law student Pani Mamuneas lacks confidence with females, due to his height. He has achondroplasia dwarfism and is 4ft 7” tall.

When asked if he had ever asked a girl our Pani replied:

“I don’t think I have; I don’t think I have ever asked a girl out. I think it’s the fear of rejection, because you always feel that you are not good enough for them….

“It was in high school where I actually realized that I am really different to people. That’s when bullying started to happen. The comments that I got from school have affected me now towards women”.

Pani has never had a girlfriend and applied to a dating agency in the hope of meeting someone special. Channel 4’s Undateables program documents his emotional response to learning that the agency has found him a ‘rather gorgeous’ match.




Monday, January 16, 2017

Dunham untouched

 An airbrush free Lena Dunham is featured on the cover of Februarys Glamour magazine. The issue is an all female production, with Girls star Dunham and co-starts Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke.

Commenting on Instagram, in recognition of the magazines unusual acceptance of an unedited image on its front page Lena wrote: "Thank you to @glamourmag for letting my cellulite do the damn thing on news stands everywhere". She went on to say that she felt the image would help the process of “normalizing the female form”. Lena continued: “Whether you agree with my politics, like my show or connect to what I do, it doesn’t matter - my body isn’t fair game. No one’s is, no matter their size, colour, gender identity, and there’s a place for us all in popular culture to be recognised as beautiful.”

Reflecting on her teenage years Lena stated that she was often told she was "funny looking. Potbelly, rabbit teeth, knock knees - I could never seem to get it right and it haunted my every move. I posed as the sassy confident one, secretly horrified and hurt by careless comments and hostility. Let's get something straight: I didn't hate what I looked like - I hated the culture that was telling me to hate it."


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Overweight, inactive and consumes to much alcohol

It’s 2017 and many people have plans to lose weight or improve their overall health. A study from Public Health England suggests that middle age British people should be putting similar plans into action.

Researchers found that 80% of British adults between the ages of 40 - 60 are overweight, inactive and/or consume too much alcohol; all of which has a negative impact on their current and future health.

The study, which compared data from 20 years ago (1991-1993) with information collected in 2011 – 2013, concluded that the later group was less healthy than earlier study participants. This fact was largely blamed on modern sedentary lifestyles.

Continue reading


Friday, January 06, 2017

It took me 38 years to be happy


Many people look at successful athletes and conclude that they are self assured and confident human beings. This belief is often not reflected in reality, as in the case of professional cricketer, former England Test international and boxer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff MBE.

In a recent Telegraph interview Flintoff said that it had taken him “38 years to be happy” with his body as a consequence of body image pressures that men encounter. In the statement on male body image he said:

“Younger lads are striving towards perfection, it happens, there are a lot of pressures now with magazines and runways - you are meant to look a certain way. I was one of those lads; it has taken me 38 years to be happy. I now realise that I am never going to be chiseled, no matter how hard I work.”

In an effort to meet unrealistic expectations Flintoff admitted to taking “extreme measures” over time, including making himself sick between Test matches and adopting exhausting fitness regimes. These experiences and additional periods in which he suffered from bulimia, alcohol addiction and depression, has led him to the conclusion that, “there is no certain way people should look”.

“It took me a long time to realise that and to be comfortable with myself”, he explained. “ I would rather have a dadbod (he has three children) and be happy and eat what I want from time to time”.


Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Peaceful or angry

It’s New Year; resolutions, life change and priorities are once again centre stage of our thoughts. Resolutions and the desire for change are often self-centre e.g. I'm going to lose weight, drink less and exercise or save more. This year, I have decided to concentrate my energy on changing my behavior or actions in order to benefit others. For example, what can I change to improve certain relationships or what can I do to help someone else.

Self introspection will be the starting point of this change. Am I peaceful or angry? Do I support and encourage or do I embarrass, hurt and criticize others? Am I a calming, self-controlled influence or is my presence akin to pouring petrol on a smoldering fire?

We are often advised to tell others about resolutions or aspirational life changes in order to help us maintain our resolve. In this instance I intend to do the opposite; I am not going to mention it to anyone. Improving relationships or the circumstances of others will be all the motivation I need.

I am not saying that am not going to make any self focused changes; what I am saying that my main emphasis will be on others. Please join me if you agree with the sentiments expressed above.

Happy New Year!