What is the difference? How did I know if I am body conscious or body obsessed? Well the line isn’t exactly engraved in stone, but there are some easy ways to figure out which camp you fit into. You’ll be happy to know that there are also a few easy ways to steer clear of body obsession while staying body conscious.
First, it is important to realize that obsession with just about anything is a negative since it leads to a myopic vision. That myopic vision can easily lead us to ignore risks, overvalue rewards, and- perhaps most detrimental- insist on unrealistic goals.
A Brief Example: When you see a fitness model in a magazine and you say “I want to look like that!” what do you mean? Do you want to look exactly like them- six pack and all- or do you just want to look fit and healthy. Do you want their body OR do you want that glow that seems to come with being fit no matter a person’s unique size or shape?
On the opposite end of the scale from body obsession is the “stick your head in the sand” ostrich approach which pretends that ignoring an unhealthy lifestyle will make everything okay. Neither obsession nor avoidance is a good policy, which is why I advocate the middle road of being body conscious.
How can you put this into practice in your own life? quite simply by shifting your goals from a focus on weight loss to a focus on fitness. Usually getting fit and shedding pounds go hand in hand, but that isn’t always the case. Eventually you will reach a point where your body achieves a healthy equilibrium and you shouldn’t be surprised if that point is something short of the six pack of a fitness model or the waist of a runway model.
So in application it is as simple as replacing the goal of “lose 20 lbs” with the goal of “run an 8 minute mile.”
If your current goal(s) include(s) losing pounds try replacing it with any combination of the following goals:
- Resistance train 2-3 times a week.
- Run/Cycle/Walk 3-4 times a week.
- Generate more activity throughout the day (i.e. walk the dog, park on the far side of the parking lot, use the stairs, etc.).
- Eat healthy throughout the day (DON’T COUNT CALORIES!).
- Get proper rest and stretch once a day.
- Run a 7 minute mile.
- 100 consecutive push-ups.
- 20 chin-ups.
- Train to WIN Ninja Warrior.
- Perform a 400lb squat.
Adding these fitness based goals will get your mind off the unrealistic expectations that often accompany weight loss goals, yet they will most likely yield large results in healthy weight loss (i.e. a loss of body fat and increased lean muscle mass).
In addition they will bring benefits that weight loss alone (especially when achieved through unhealthy means) often fails to deliver. Those benefits are increased energy, stamina, libido, and for guys more natural testosterone production (which partially explains the increase in stamina and libido). You couldn’t buy these kind of goodies for a million bucks, yet by exercising some body consciousness you can attain all of these. So what’s stopping you?