Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Pressures of Getting Fit and Healthy Can Do Harm than Good

This guest post graciously submitted by Krisca.

We can’t escape it and an do our best to avoid it, but the pressure to look good, stay fit, and “just be healthy” can take its toll on our emotional and physical health. Women are especially vulnerable to caving in to the pressure to be fit because of unhealthy and unrealistic ideals portrayed in the media. For many women, being thin equates to being healthy – and this is usually far from the truth. This type of thinking can lay the groundwork for a full-blown eating disorder, and while an estimated 8 millionAmericanshaveaneatingdisorder, others simply suffer from “disordered eating”.

Here are some of the ways the pressure to get fit and healthy can do more harm than good:

Setting Unrealistic Expectations

The media and celebrities put a lot of emphasis on health and fitness, emphasizing that this is one of the critical elements of the “good life”. While working out and staying in shape do offer many positive benefits, few people can transform their bodies to the point that they look like a celebrity or fitness model. Having unrealistic expectations about what the body will look like by adopting a fitness regimen or pushing yourself through grueling workouts can take its toll on your emotional well-being – you’ll never be satisfied by what you see in the mirror.

Striving for an Unhealthy Ideal

The ideal body image or ideal weight for any given person can be very different from national standards, or even the standards of close friends and family members. When someone is striving for an unhealthy ideal, they often put the pressure on themselves – and their bodies – to keep pushing through hours of workouts, adopting unhealthy dieting practices, or even resorting to diet pills and other dangerous weight loss methods. While it’s healthy to set goals and strive to improve oneself, working towards an unhealthy ideal version of the self can do more harm than good.

Living with a Distorted Body Image

Are you guilty of always feeling bad or having a low self-esteem because of the way you look? If you have a very strong inner dissatisfaction with your body and a poor body image, you may be more sensitive to the pressures of getting fit and healthy. You might feel like you will never be good enough unless you are fit and healthy, and that your body flaws are something to be ashamed about or hidden. Some people take things so far that they end up being diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Just like eating disorders, both men and women can suffer from this illness. Their perception of what their body looks like is nowhere near reality and they often spend a lot of time, resources, and emotional energy trying to “fix” something that doesn’t need to be fixed. Taking steps to accept the limitations of genetics and taking an honest, objective look at your body can help you overcome many of the effects of a distorted body image. Working with a counselor or eating disorder specialist can also help to improve your perception of yourself.

Krisca Te works with Open Colleges, Australia’s leading provider of TAFE courses equivalent and distance education. When not working, she enjoys spending her day with her 4-month old son.

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