Monday, May 24, 2010

Body Image & Unrealistic Expectations

When I was 14, I started keeping track of my height, weight, and measurements as I grew. I'm a detail person, so I've kept a record of these stats annually for over 25 years. It has not been fun to see the numbers slump as I get older, but I still do it. I used to worry about what my ideal proportions or measurements should be. Obviously there are many variables to consider, such as height, frame size, age, and genetics. People are not as simple as diamonds, which can be cut to ideal proportions.

When people hear the words "Grecian Formula", they usually think of hair oil, but there is another Grecian formula or ideal; a set of proportions for the "ideal physique." Body builders try to achieve the perfect balance of size and symmetry. Some of them calculate this by using their wrist circumference, which in turn determines what their other measurements should be. For a person who is 6' 2" like myself with 7 inch wrists, the software says my ideal measurements should be a 46" chest, 17" biceps, 32" waist, 24 " thighs, and 16" calves. Apparently my body measurements are NOT ideal. The Greek sculptors would be ashamed of me, but I don't think I'm alone. The average man in the US is 5 ft. 9 and weighs 190 lbs. and doesn't fit that ideal either.

The average American woman is 5' 4" and weighs 150 lbs. Compare that with the average female model who is 5 ft. 10, weighs between 110-120 lbs. and has measurements of 34-24-34. If you think those are tough measurements to live up to, check out the Barbie doll. If she were life size, her measurements would be 39-18-33. Don't feel picked on if you are a girl. These impossible expectations carry over to boys too. The average action figure is apparently on steroids with proportions that would make Mr. Olympia jealous. No wonder so many people have eating disorders and body image issues.

My point is that not everyone can look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or (insert celebrity). Maybe you are big boned and will never have a frame like Angelina Jolie. You shouldn't stress out about this because, odds are, your husband doesn't look like Brad Pitt either. Measure your success against yourself not a model or celebrity who's body represents less than 1% of the population. If they are famous for their physique, then staying in amazing shape is probably their full time job. Remember that the model in the picture you may want to look like has genetics, extensive photo shoots, cosmetic surgery, and airbrushing on their side.

Don't think this is a sour grapes post, or that I'm implying it's not important to get into shape. I'm not trying to talk anyone out of reaching for their fitness goals or getting into the shape they have always dreamed of. I'm just saying to be realistic about it. I believe that everyone can improve their own physique and make progress from where ever they currently are. If a picture of someone motivates you to get in better shape, then that's fine, but don't let society tell you what you should look like. As you adopt a healthy lifestyle, you can get into great shape, and if you work hard enough, you can eventually reach your personal physical potential. For more health and fitness posts, see my other blog at www.yourfitnessquest.com.

7 comments:

Kristina P. said...

I am setting a goal to weigh 500 pounds by December. I figure I will buck society trends and try to gain more weight.

Dr Zibbs said...

I'm 6"2" 190.

Just sayin'

Eric said...

I had to draw some boundaries when working out more than once a day. It can be a sickness.

Cheeseboy said...

I try and stay in shape but the more I work out, the less in shape I seem to be in. It's like aging is overtaking workout effects.

Great post. I think I need to become more resigned to be slightly overweight as no matter what I do, those last 10 pounds never seem to come off.

I should become Dr. Zibbs

ISRAEL CARRASCO said...

Pass the cheetos

Kelly said...

This post makes me hungry!

Shana said...

Great post.