We all have an image in our heads of how we’d like to look. Other people may not feel the same way. But does that really matter? In reality, absolutely not! But unfortunately there is a societal voice constantly nagging and pointing out that it doesn’t fit in with the ‘norm’. But what is the norm? Just take a look at the development of the human body over the last 100 years and you will see huge dramatic changes, almost every decade. Humans have always had that innate drive to exercise and be strong. After all it is about survival of the fittest. When there was peace during war times even centuries ago, there were competitive games organised to keep warriors in check and skills honed.
Take a jump forward to modern times and everywhere you look you see, pictures of perfectly sculpted bodies. Training in top notch gyms, playing high level sports, wearing the best of clothing and using the latest gym aid. Certainly now, more than ever you’d imagine that everyone would be doing it, because it is so accessible. The trouble with this is 90% of what you are seeing on the billboards, posters and magazines is edited on a computer to get rid of unwanted blemishes, skinfolds and shapes that are not going to tie in nicely with the image they want to sell to you. Looking past all of this, we need realise why you should be doing this and not what you are being guided towards by huge retailers. It is time to consider your own happiness and health.
So, what is the perfect shape?
In my honest opinion there is none; we are all unique, that’s what makes it so interesting. We all have our own idea of what they would like to look like. But my opinion certainly will vary from yours. Needless to say that once you are within the safe ranges of Body Fat percentage, weight, size and shape, for your age, height and gender, what else do you need? Essentially: All shape and conditioning should reflect from the inside out and not outside in.
How many people have you heard saying ‘he always looked healthy and fit’, when they died of a heart attack? The danger is the visceral fat that sits around our organs and the lack of proper nutrition. No matter what is happening on the outside, you need to focus on looking after yourself from within.
Body Fat Percentages:
Essential Fat – Men 2-5% Women 10-13%
Athletes – Men 6-13% Women 14-20%
Fitness – Men 14-17% Women 21-24%
Average – Men 18-24% Women 25-31%
Obese – Men 25+% Women 32+%
Essential fat is the minimum amount of fat necessary for basic physical and physiological health.
There is a lot of controversy over what amount of body fat is optimal for overall health. There have been many studies done on this. One such report was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, which concluded that certain low body fat ranges are “under fat”, which implies “unhealthy”. According to this research paper, men who are between 20-40 years old with under 8% body fat are considered “under fat”, whereas a “healthy” range is described as between 8-19%. For women in this same age group, any level under 21% is “under fat” and 21-33% is considered “healthy”.
However, body fat is only one important measure of health, and saying a certain body fat level is “unhealthy” doesn’t give you the whole story. The fact of the matter is some overweight people who exercise can be healthier than their leaner non-exercising counterparts, and it works both ways. So, to imply that anyone who has a six pack, is very athletic, and eats well is “under fat” or “unhealthy” is a stretch. We all have different fat distribution profiles, so the BF% chart like this one is good as a starting point. They key here should be the obvious, stay within the healthy ranges and keep an eye on cholesterol levels.
It is important to be selfish
You need to think of yourself if you are thinking of your health. Eating well and working out is not about what others think, it is more about your longevity, good health and the release of happy hormones. Get healthy, build up your immune system and your energy levels. The obesity epidemic in this country is reaching an all-time high and if not dealt with appropriately, we are set to be the fattest country in Europe by 2030, according to the World Health Organisation.
5 steps to better health
1. Decide – You have now thought about changing, which is amazing and now that you are in the contemplation stage of why you are doing this, you can easily be swayed, so be careful not to change your mind.
2. Plan – You now look at your options to making it possible, so set small goals that are 100% achievable. Do not set yourself up for failure.
3. Prepare – You start to put your time management in place to fit you around your schedule.
4. Action – You are now physically doing it and acting on your plan.
5. Maintenance – It is all about routine here and being able to stick with it and this is the one that people fall down on. Make it a routine and a normal part of your life.
Article by: Jason Kenny
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