Body image issues have been around for generations and unfortunately will always be part of society, no matter how inclusive, sensitive or mindful advertisers are. There will always be moments where we as the consumer feel insecure because "we don't look like that" (that being what is on TV or billboards). It sucks. It really sucks when you constantly see what perfect looks like and you're not "it".
Ever since I was a kid, one of my biggest obsessions was trying to get a 6 pack of abs. Between Bruce Lee, Schwarzenegger and even D'Angelo's naked ass, I felt so insecure having extra baby fat and a Buddha belly. I'm embarrassed to even mention that at certain points of my life I stopped eating, took diet/creatine pills and would work out for hours everyday. I tried everything and nothing could get rid of my love handles or stomach, I was 13 years old by the way. Just a short, pudgy, insecure kid with braces and the last thing I believed was that I was good-looking. The damage I did to my mind and body to achieve "perfection" was disappointing but like anything else, I'm happy I experienced and learned from it. My only wish is to pass on my story in hopes that it will stop the next insecure kid from wasting time worrying about body image. I also want to destroy the illusion of the "perfect body" and give you advice on getting the body of your dreams.
10 years and 20 pounds ago I was drinking every other day, eating fast food, and not sleeping. Granted I was 22, but the lifestyle I lived was detrimental for my health and then I'd have the nerve to complain about not having a 6 pack. On the surface I looked healthy, in shape and strong but on the inside I was always tired, dehydrated and in pain. The worst part, I was still obsessing over abs and how I couldn't get them. I'd convince myself "well this is the best I can do, so society better just deal with it" but it wasn't until I was brutally honest and had to say "c'mon bro, are you really giving your best?" Deep down I knew I wasn't, my energy was weak and others could feel that but by changing some habits I could at least be authentic knowing I really am trying my best.
I was blaming society for not finding me attractive instead of appreciating the attractive parts of me already. Beauty and love go hand in hand, until we truly love ourselves we will constantly be in a cycle of blaming others. Until we really appreciate the beauty our body holds, we will constantly be in a cycle seeking validation. One thing you have to remember is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I promise that if you can authentically find your inner beauty, the people meant for you won't be able to resist the attraction. Did you know in Ethiopia, men of the Bodi tribe are found attractive based on the size of their bellies? Guess I would have thrived there LOL! The question is, would I have felt good in my body? The same way we can overdo a big belly, we can also overdo exercise - no matter what society considers beautiful, there's always risks we take to try and achieve it.
So before you dive into the diets, the workouts or google any other gimmick to get the "perfect body" first ask what can the perfect body do? Can it lift heavy things? Can it run for hours? Can it wake up without feeling like it got hit by a train? The moment you start thinking like this, you won't give a crap what your body looks like. If I was destined to be a sumo wrestler I wouldn't care if that meant "looking a certain way", I would just be happy following my passion. Maybe next time for the Makuuchi division, in this realm I just wanted to run faster, touch my toes and do crazy dance moves. So after stopping the bad habits I started simple lifestyle changes like drinking lots of water, eating more vegetables, less meat, sleeping more and stressing less. No supplements, no diets, no 3 hour workouts just simple movement as medicine and appreciating my body. I barely paid attention to the mirror but then one day I felt so good in my skin that I couldn't help but look and holy sh*t there they were! The abs I've always wanted finally appeared when I broke up with them years ago. Why does that always happen? I haven't the slightest clue but I do know that mind body connection is critical when it comes to our outcomes. Working out with a hostile "I better get in shape or else" mentality won't translate well to what you are doing physically and will probably end up causing an injury so love where you're at and what you're able to do.
If I could just go back in time I would take that pudgy lil' Pillsbury doughboy, give him a big ass hug and tell him how much of a freakin' stud he was, how it's his fun energy that's attractive and not his body. If we appreciate our bodies for what they can do and not what they look like, we will always have the body of our dreams. Tell yourself, "I'm dope AF for moving the way I do." No matter what the mirror says or what your scale reads, when you feel good you look freakin' great. So stay on those fitness journeys y'all, it may take time but the marathon is long and any help I can provide, I got you. Spread love, peace.