Friday, October 28, 2011

David (Gandy) vs. GOLIATH

It appears that even male super models have body image problems. The very attractive and successful David Gandy, famous for his Dolce & Gabbana ads, is just like the rest of us. I'm not going to pretend that this info is necessarily news to me (that a male model is body obsessed), come on, it's his job to look good. But, what I do find interesting is that someone who is hired to be the body and face of a company, someone who beat out hundreds of (if not more) models to fulfill that role, can still fall victim to the mischievous tricks of the mind when logic would have to argue that you're doing just fine.

In a recent interview in DETAILS he had this to say about his struggles with body image:

“I don’t particularly like much of my body. I’m very critical of myself. I think I’m pretty much a perfectionist in anything I do so I’m never going to be happy. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, believe me. People can criticise me and try to being me down but I tell them, ‘You can’t be as hard on me as I am on myself, so don’t even try.’”

That last sentence is incredibly telling and it brings forth a much larger issue: why is he so hard on himself? Is it the stress of staying relevant and competing with younger, so-called, "hotter" models? Is it linked to his childhood; is he an "ugly duckling" type who was made fun of at school? Was there an overbearing parent that subtly, or possibly not-so-subtly, informed his ideas of what a man should look like? Or, any number of other factors? 

That is where the lines tend to blur, and one of the reasons body image issues are so prevalent and difficult to locate the root cause. Often times it is not as simple as just one contributing factor (for me it was a mix of parental influence, being made fun of and shamed, the gay community's glorification of, and the medias emphasis on, what is essentially an unnatural body type). 

So who knows why Mr. Gandy is so hard on himself? Maybe that is not the real issue here. It is most likely more constructive to focus on how to get the mind to move beyond the "ideas" is subscribes to. Especially when there is strong evidence that suggests your beliefs not grounded in reality. 

We've all got bodies. We've all got issues. And it seems, we all (or a whole lot of us) have body issues.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MTV's "I Used To Be Fat"

I just came across this wonderful show, on MTV of all places, called "I Used To Be Fat," and it may be the best (and only) thing MTV has going for it right now.
Granted, for a large portion of my life MTV was "my jam." I loved Real World (I LOVED it, need to elaborate in a separate post), Road Rules, the RW/RR Challenges, True Life, and of course music videos (when they acually played them). But lately, and by that I mean over the last 5 or so years, I have felt like MTV and I had grown apart. I could no longer tolerate the people that were cast on the Real Word, am disgusted by the kids and their parents on "My Super Sweet 16," and I have no interest in anything Jersey Shore related.

So, back to IUTBF. The show follows one obese teenager per episode, and pairs them with a trainer to help them get down to a healthy weight. All of them are recent High School graduates who are heading off to college in the Fall, and looking to shed some weight and have a fesh start.

From MTV's website:
College is all about reinvention. It's a time in a teen's life where they can leave behind all of the preconceived notions people had about them in high school and start fresh. Unless they're massively overweight.

'I Used To Be Fat' is a new documentary series profiling teenagers desperate to shed their unwanted pounds before heading off to school. We'll send a weight loss guru to work with each person and they'll go through rigorous fitness regimens and work with experts to learn how to change the habits that caused them to gain so much weight.

Each one-hour episode will focus on a different student, following them from the last weeks of high school to the first crucial days of college, and giving viewers an inspirational and intimate account of their emotional and physical transformation, as they struggle to change their attitudes, eating habits, and ultimately their lives.

But this summer is about more than just losing weight for these teens -- it's also about figuring out who they are and who they want to be. It's time for them to stop leaning on mom and dad and to learn to stand on their own two feet. It's a chance for them to realize that if they don't take charge of their lives now, they never will.

Throughout each show, viewers will witness how each teen's life and view of the world starts to change as they start to lose weight, and they'll see them when they debut their new look -- and their new outlook -- on their first day of college.

At the end of each episode, we'll catch up after a few months of college to see where they are now. Have they kept the weight off or gained it back? Is college life what they'd dreamed it would be? And what will their families and friends say when they see them again?

Some will lose the weight. Others will fail. But either way, this will be the most important summer of their lives.

The episode I watched was about a kid named Josh, whose start weight was 310 pounds (I've been there) and over the course of just 3 1/2 months achieved amazing results. It is so gratifying to see someone work hard and make shit happen. At the end of the episode I was smiling right along with Josh, his trainer, and his family. Especially since I understand what he had to go through and the satisfaction of meeting (or exceeding) your goals.

Here's a sneek preview of Josh's episode. You can actually watch entire episodes on the MTV site.

Also, Josh's trainer Joey is pretty easy on the eyes. So, there's that.

Anyway, I definitely recommend checking this show out. And I give MTV props for creating a show that has the potential to help and inspire a lot of people, not just the few kids that are on it. 


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wrap-Up: How did THE PLAN go?

*I wrote most of this back in August and also last month and then became sidetracked and forgot to post. I put some finishing touches on it today.


Here I am after one month of the new plan I devised and I am actually feeling pretty good. Whether or not there has been any change I feel different. And that is change enough for me.

The last week of the month was actually spent on vacation, one of those “floating buffets” of all things. It amazes me the way people eat on these things. Yes, there is food available 24/7. Does that mean you need to be constantly shoveling it in your face? I’m pretty sure the answer to that question is NO! However, for some reason people just go crazy. It is no wonder that the  FITNESS DUDE mentioned in one of his seminars that the average cruise passenger gains 5-10 lbs. in one week. The dietary crimes I witnessed are too horrifying to recount.

Oh, and yes, of course, I spent a portion of my free time going to health and fitness seminars and hitting the gym (it’s who I am, what I find interesting, and what I enjoy). I also got a body composition test and the HEALTH DUDE did say (in his charming South African accent) that I have a very good lean muscle mass (think he said “great”) and am very well hydrated, but that it would be good to lose about 5% of my body fat. The amazing thing was, my dad was sitting right next to me when the guy mentioned my muscle mass, and I got to chide him for his harassing me about being to “slim” or “scrawny.” I felt quite vindicated.

In the last month I have done a great job of not working out too much, actually forcing myself to not go to the gym so that I can get the proper amount of rest. I have been going to the gym (or doing my training outside of the gym) 4 to 5 times each week and definitely working intervals into the mix. I’ve done some crazy cycling classes (one in which I nearly threw up because I was pushing so hard; lesson learned) and had some good sessions in the pool. What I love about that is that you can actually feel the difference when you’re swimming faster; the way the water rushes past you. I’ve also done a fair share of weight training and yoga, and of course running (my absolute favorite, NOT).

I also started monitoring (at least a little better) my calories and also my protein intake. So far those seem to be good things. I know for a fact that I am consuming enough calories to not start metabolizing my muscle mass in order to get fuel and also that I have enough protein in my system to regenerate and build new muscle after a tough workout or training session. Obviously, the last thing I want to do is lose any of my existing muscle mass. What is the point of losing weight if the weight you are losing is muscle not fat? I am actually a bit glad that my weight has increased slightly while my body fat has been pretty stable.

It has been two months since I decided to try a new modified approach to my fitness and diet regimen in hopes of making some positive changes to my body and how I feel about it. So, how did it go?

Well, August was a ridiculous month. I think I made it to the gym about 5 times. Of course I managed to eat properly still, but with an insane work schedule, very few days off, and tons of stuff to take care of before and after work there was just not enough time to get to the gym. The last week of the month was spent out in the Nevada Desert at the Burning Man festival (so, not a ton of gym time there either, just lots of bike riding and dancing!) What was fantastic about Burning Man was that I was surrounded by thousands of people who were so content just being themselves. Whether that meant wandering around completely nude or in some wonderful costume, they were who they were, and they were proud. It was a very beautiful thing to behold. While I am not quite “there” yet when it come to putting my body on display, I did break through some personal boundaries that week and am happy to say that I am forever changed by this (and many other experiences I had).

So, after two months of more or less following my plan (I definitely did a good job of working out less!) what, if any, progress did I make?

As of September 15, 2011
height: 6'0"
weight: 185 lbs.
chest @ nipples: 40.5”
under breasts: 39"
biceps: 12"
@ belly button: 35."
hips: 35.5"
butt @ widest point: 39"
thighs: 22"
calves: 15”
Body Fat: 17%

Let’s take a look at this. I apparently gained 6 pounds and my body fat increased by 1%. However, I really don’t trust my bathroom scale when it comes to body fat measurement (two measurements taken within 2 hours of each other had different results, the latter being 1% less) . Also, a number of people (my mom and a co-worker included) commented on the fact that I looked thinner or more fit. Could it be that I actually am making gains in my muscle mass? I certainly hope so. I suppose the jury is still out. All that matters is that I feel good, and look better than I ever have. And I suppose that is really what all of this has been about the whole time, my quest for self-acceptance and being comfortable in my body. While the stomach “pooch” (or saggy skin) and the smaller, but still present, breasts are a reminder that I still have a ways to go, at least I recognize that this may be the case for a while, and I’m OK with that.


P.S. I can’t lie, but my main impetus for THE PLAN was to try and get my body closer to where I would like for it to be, knowing that I would be going to Burning Man and would want to be as comfortable as possible in my skin. What I learned there (though I’ve always known this) is that being comfortable in your skin has a lot less to do with resembling a model in an underwear ad, and a lot more to do with how you feel about YOU and what you have to offer the world. Thank you, Playa.