Having a healthy body image is a major determining factor of how you will feel about yourself. When you feel great about your body, you will instantly feel great about yourself. Studies have shown that people with a high sense of body-image satisfaction were more likely to engage in healthy eating habits and exercise more often than those who had low body-image satisfaction. Your body-image concerns may be caused by how you were raised, the media you consume, or even your genes. It is important to find the root of your body-image issues so you can work through them and achieve your desired weight. Sometimes this means changing how you eat, how you move, or even how you think. It can be a painful process, but it is worth it.
What is Body-Image Disatisfaction (BDS)?
In order to efficiently shed the excess weight and reach our desired goal, it is important to completely understand what is causing our body-image issues. There are several factors that contribute to body-image dissatisfaction, such as:
- Your Body Mass Index (BMI)
- The Size of Your Waistline
- Your Relationship Status
- How You Were Raised
- The Media You Consume
- Your Genetics
- Your Mental Health
- How You Feel About Your Appearance
- Your Age
- Your Level of Experience
Each of these factors is examined in detail below.
Your Body Mass Index (BMI)
Your BMI is an indicator of how healthy or unhealthy you are based on your weight and height. The ideal BMI for a woman is between 18.5 and 25.0, and for a man between 18.0 and 24.9. If you are below these ranges, it means you are underweight or obese, respectively. The scale can also be used to determine if you are at a healthy weight, so it is important to understand the significance of your BMI.
Being underweight is a major concern because it is associated with several health risks. If your BMI is below 18.5, it indicates you are at a higher risk for:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- Reproductive Problems
- Lung Disease
Being overweight is also a concern, as it is associated with several health risks as well. If your BMI is above 25.0, it indicates you are at a higher risk for:
- Heart Disease
- Reproductive Problems
- Lung Disease
The Size of Your Waistline
Another factor that influences your body-image concerns is the size of your waistline. If you are wearing baggy clothes, it means your current weight is not concentrated in your hips and thighs, but rather, scattered throughout your entire body. Your waistline is the part of your body that you show when you wear a skirt or shorter dresses. The measurement is taken at the narrowest part of your waist. The recommended minimum waist circumference for women is 35 inches, and for men it is 40 inches. If you are below these measurements, it means you have an ‘apple-shaped’ body, and if you are above, you have a ‘pear-shaped’ body. These measurements do not indicate how you should shop – for instance, shorter women may want to avoid oversized clothes because they make her look like an apple, and men with a large waistline may want to focus on wearing smaller clothes.
Your Relationship Status
Your relationship status may influence your body-image concerns, particularly if you are not in a happy relationship. Studies have shown that dissatisfied single people are more likely to be affected by their body-image issues than those who are satisfied with their romantic status. It is important to note here that not all single people are unhappy with their bodies, but rather, it depends on the reason they are single. If you are not happy being single, it may be a good idea to reevaluate your romantic status and consider whether or not you want to commit to a long-term relationship. There are several positive aspects to being single, such as gaining independence and being able to set your own agenda.
How You Were Raised
How you were raised may also play a role in how you feel about yourself. If you were not given much emotional support as a child, it may be difficult for you to build up a strong enough emotional connection with your own children to provide them with the guidance they need. You may also feel a lack of support from your parents or siblings, which may put you in a negative frame of mind when it comes to your appearance. Some studies suggest that those who were not provided with high levels of care as children are more likely to have body issues as adults. This does not mean that you will have an unstable personality or be prone to mental illness or suicide, but it does mean you will have to work harder than others at maintaining a healthy body image.
The Media You Consume
The media you consume can also influence your body-image concerns. If you regularly watch TV shows or movies with a large number of thin characters, it can lead you to believe that this is the ideal way to look. Unfortunately, this may not always be true. There are several notable shows that do not accurately represent what it means to be fit and healthy, and this can lead to viewers forming unrealistic expectations about what they should look like. If you are worried about your body-image, it might be a good idea to avoid movies and TV shows that could potentially cause you further distress. It is also important to remember that just because a show is deemed ‘healthy’ or ‘fitness-related’ does not mean it is a good representation of reality. Many shows that teach people how to eat healthier or lose weight do not show what it really means to be fit, and this can cause great harm to those who are following these diets. It is always best to learn how to recognize what is good and what is bad when it comes to the media you consume.
Your genes also play a role in how you feel about your body. Studies have shown that women who carry a certain gene are more likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies than those who do not. This gene allows the body to produce a protein called adiponectin, which naturally reduces cholesterol and triglycerides. Low levels of adiponectin have been shown to be associated with increased visceral fat and insulin resistance, which are both factors that contribute to poor health. If you carry this gene and are concerned about your body-image, it may be a good idea to work towards raising your adiponectin levels through diet and exercise. There are several supplements available that can increase the production of this protein, such as: