A brief article on how fitness industry propaganda is provoking body-image anxiety and eating disorders.
Body dysmorphia and eating disorders are byproducts of our thoughts and fitness industry is a major trigger (Photo)
My main goal on writing this article is to liberate the mind from misleading information on social media, and its marketing campaigns, and reduce the anxiety which is created by the fitness industry by provoking body dysmorphia and eating disorders.
But before going through the article, be aware of what you are capable of:
You have a brilliant AI (Artificial Intelligence) inside your head with the power to engineer your body to become your own personal trainer in creating a vigorous and aesthetically pleasing body.
But, this magnificent brain is not foolproof. It could create chaos by processing lies and receiving incorrect information.
Anxiety and body dysmorphia are byproducts of our thoughts, and we can manage them by updating our adaptive AI.
I will explain our cognitive biases and inform you about the dirty secrets in the fitness industry to help you identify correct information.
Taking care of your health is important but it shouldn’t backfire on your mental health (Photo)
Let me tell you about my own story when I felt overwhelmingly stressed due to body-shame anxiety during childhood. I used to be a chubby introverted gamer with curly hairs looking like a bird's nest and my man boobs floating around. My school friends teased me all the time pinching my boobs and love handles.
These mixed feelings of shame and anxiety got even worse after I joined Instagram in 2010.
A few months after its launch, it was filled with sexy photos of bikini girls and bodybuilders flaunting their flawless physique.
Shortly after, I made this detrimental habit of going through random photos of fitness models and cursing my poor genetics and the entire world(!).
This made me hate myself, but the urge to impress the girls at that age sparked a fire within me (I know, not a proper motivation but I was just a kid).
I was telling myself "Am I being a hater? That's right. I'm a loser because I don't have that will-power to change anything. Or maybe not! I think there are secrets that no one is talking about and I'm going to find out."
My solution to come out of this self-sabotaging cycle was seeking correct information to change my mindset.
I am sure you have heard it a lot that changing mindset is the critical phase in almost every self-help journey.
Well, think about it, it is your brain which commands your body. Ultimately the best personal trainer will be your own brain which is learning your unique body like an adaptive AI and could coach you better than anybody else.
But first, you need to sync science-backed data to this intelligent AI to stop all those anxieties and get ready to kick ass! Right?
So, lets discuss several destructive biases and how to replace them with constructive ones:
Destructive logic #1:
If someone looks physically appealing to the mass, she/he is more attractive, healthier and happier than me. She has been doing it right, and she knows the secrets. I should follow her advice to achieve the same results and look attractive.
Constructive update for your brain #1:
Ah! The word attractiveness is only in our mind (sigh). It's a reflection of our values. Our values are deeply rooted in our cognitive processes which can be guided by the media (Journal from the world psychiatric association).
If you don't relate to the new meaning of attractiveness which is being advertised on social media, you are not alone.
The bitter truth is that, in the fitness industry, marketing and sales come before mental and physical health.
The majority of before & after photos are sales campaigns for a brand, service or product. And, many of those transformation journeys hide the usage of drugs since it's either illegal or might be considered as cheating (fear of social rejection).
Bodybuilders with a ripped physique and influencers with a sizable butt are more prone to suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (Scientific Journal) and constant self-consciousness or even worse, side effects of drugs and plastic surgeries.
This industry is making money out of these ads by provoking body dysmorphia and even the pro athletes could become the victims.
Simply ask yourself, why should we focus on aesthetics so much? No health expert would suggest that in order to be healthy you need to have a shredded body or a sizeable butt.
The market is trying so hard to picture attractiveness and beauty in a way to pressure consumers to look for a flaw in their body, otherwise, the industry will collapse. (Capitalism is to blame?)
Relax, it's a fake illusion. Don't get me wrong, you need to take care of your health, but aesthetics is something that humans are creating in their mind, and it's ruining their life.
If people around you are praising you only because of your aesthetics or making you feel miserable by saying you are fat, don't blame them. They are deceived by the media. They need our help.
Destructive logic #2:
People with their transformation journies have great will-power and I don't. I can't stick to a simple diet plan, and I crave sugars all the time. It's just not for me. Forget it.
Constructive update for your brain #2:
Don't blame yourself. Actually, most people don't have that will-power. A research study, The Physiology of Willpower, suggests that:
"Self-control failures are more likely when glucose is low or cannot be mobilized effectively to the brain. Restoring glucose to a sufficient level typically improves self-control"
Knowing this fact will help you manage your willpower strategically. A practical solution is choosing low GI foods. I will discuss it in the diet section.
People risk their lives using fat-burning agents like clenbuterol (extremely dangerous and might enlarge your heart and kill you) which blasts the fat because they don't have that willpower to stick to a fitness plan for years without following a science-backed diet.
People usually hide what they have used to burn fat or build muscles because they fear social rejection. They fear that people would judge them and label them as a cheater.
That's why no one is talking about drugs and surgeries. They might be making money out of this, and they don't want you to know their secrets.
There are all kinds of agents and drugs in the black market like clenbuterol, ephedrine, and even some legal products like peptides which can potentially decrease the fat deposit and increase your muscle mass with minimum effort.
You lift a book, and your muscles will be pumped. You are sleeping, and your body melts the fat. Your strength will be tripled, and your squat increases from 150kg to 300kg in a few days by injecting two synergistic steroids like Stanozolol and Primobolan. But, the risks are life-threatening and you need to be informed.
There are all kinds of surgeries to remove the fat or inject the fat, and most people doing all these surgeries claim that the fitness routine changed their physique.
I'm not telling you to go and find these agents or do surgery. I want you to know that people cheat because of many reasons. It's not that you don't have willpower. You will find peace when you know what's going on in the industry.
The only time you should blame yourself is when you don't seek science-backed information!
Destructive logic #3:
But my partner won't be attracted to me when she/he is checking all those flawless physiques on social media. My friends won't praise me. I know how to live healthily, but I will never look like those photos. I'm scared.
Constructive update for your brain #3:
Your partner/lover needs your help to stop being a victim of the beauty/fitness industry propaganda.
They need to critically question things, society and businesses to realise that your beauty and attractiveness lies mainly in the content of your character, not just your physical body.
I'm not telling you to stop training and changing your body shape. Actually, I'm going to help you how to do it efficiently.
Physical beauty is just a spice in life. We need to relax. If your partner/lover criticise your body, it means he/she needs help to change her/his mindset.
Destructive logic #4:
C’mon, it is not rocket science. If I want to lose fat and build muscles, I need to eat less, do more cardio and lift heavy.
Constructive update for your brain #4:
We are being too cocky here!
Actually, health and nutrition science and the design of the human body are pretty complex for an average person to understand, and it requires proper education.
But, we are not going to discuss the detail of the studies since this article aims to be concise and practical.
Research suggests that reducing calories does not necessarily contribute to weight loss (Link to research study).
It might fire back and reduces your metabolic rate and orders your body to hold on to what it has.
The AI is sending a message to the organs that survival comes first, and we need to stick to what we have, or we will die (Starvation mode on!).
How to hack the AI? I mean we are the command centre, aren't we? We will discuss it in the diet section.
Doing more cardio might benefit your heart, but you need to tweak it to make it efficient.
Have you asked why sprinters are super muscular while most marathon runners are athletic but skinny? Well, your smart body does not want to carry around hefty muscles if she thinks you haven't found food foraging for a while. Let's discuss this in the exercise section.
Lifting heavy weights increases the risk of injury that will potentially stop you from being consistent in your journey.
Getting injured can be a massive setback. The time you need to recover physically and mentally might kill your incentives forever.
There are numerous techniques to trigger muscle break-down without having to lift super heavy that I will discuss in another article.