Media portrayals of health and your body image
There is a question I have been asked quite a few times by various people. The assumption is that if you are completely ripped and built like a bodybuilder, you are healthy. I am here to definitively tell you that, that is quite a huge assumption……..YOU MAKE AN ASS AND THE UMP WILL SHUN YOU….(Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — Coach Smiley). An impressive physique by itself does not necessarily have to be a reflection of being healthy. It definitely correlates with your health in most situations but not all. If a person is morbidly obese, it will have an enormous strain on your heart, your blood pressure will sky rocket, there will be a lack of proper oxygen flow in your body, your hormone production and levels will be all out of whack, and your body will be a reflection of all these conditions, as well as being the instigator of almost all of them. However if a person works out hardcore, but does steroids, smokes cigarettes, does cocaine, and drinks every day, their health will suffer extremely as well. However, they will possess a great deal of muscle mass with striations, and will seem lean because of one small part of the picture of health they choose to follow (working out). Everything else will be wreaking havoc on their system, however we will never see it.
Recently we had a great example of it with a gentleman that became popular under the name of “THE LIVER KING”. He claimed to be completely natural, and sports a massive physique. To the trained eye it was obvious that he was not natural by any means however he said it over and over till eventually people began questioning themselves. Those that are not in the industry or aren’t close to the industry believed him. He used this to sell supplements, and worst of all, a false body image. Those that struggle with their own body image took his word and began believing such a physique was possible by following certain “ancestral tenets” as he called it. He promoted this idea that following a raw and primitive lifestyle which included eating raw organ meat (hence the moniker Liver King), would allow for great boosts in testosterone production, and natural muscle mass. Alas, as those in the know suspected and expected, it came to light that The Liver King did a massive cocktail of performance and physique enhancing drugs. This is a great example of how an image is different from actual health. If you look at a heavyweight olympic lifter chances are they are far from having the ideal male physique. However, are they healthy? Damn right they are. They are absolute power houses, and a walking ad for some of the healthiest people on earth. That portion of the discussion may be about elite world-class athletes, but we can look to others for inspiration as well. Whether a person is an avid practitioner of yoga, swims, plays tennis, basketball, or is even the average joe and jane, that works a 9-5 then comes home and takes care of their kids, cooks, cleans inside and outside the home, goes to the gym, socializes with their friends, and everything that the average person does. If these average joes and janes find the perfect balance to enjoy their life, while not over indulging in things that aren’t good for them they can be considered to be in peak health for their lifestyle.
Physique and health can be two different things. Not everyone that has a six pack is healthy and not everyone that doesn’t is unhealthy. The common factors for health are muscle, cardio, conditioning, a balanced healthy diet, strength, mobility & flexibility, proper breathing, proper hydration, good sleep, and proper stress management. Body shape that fits a norm portrayed by the media (previously and currently) is for marketing, competitive, and in a lot of cases for personal reasons (not necessarily health related, although in some cases it definitely can). Something that enlarges your heart, your blood pressure, sometimes makes you lose hair, can impair sexual function, increase acne, trigger mood swings all in the name of vanity is far from healthy, yet there is a popular assumption that that is what healthy looks like. Do not be fooled. It is not what “healthy” looks like.