When your mind tells you something completely false about your body.
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When reality, is not
Today brings a very serious topic.
Do you see the posted pictures? This is me. This is what I became after finding my path in nutritional sciences, and I gained so much health from this—weight loss was just a nice little bonus! I am at least 130 lbs (59 kg) with a female waist size of 4. My arms are decently strong and I am working back up to at least being able to consistently bench 200 lbs (91 kg) like I could when I was fourteen years old.
So what’s the problem? Why am I showing these pictures and describing myself to everyone?
Because I had to hang them on my wall as a reminder. You see, when I look down, I see a fat person. I see a disgusting body and I easily slip into depression because of that horror that I am. It makes me feel like I want to just not eat so I can stop seeing that horrible body. I want so very much to be pleasing to the eye.
You read that right.
I don’t see the extremely thin person with atrophied legs until I see a picture. I see flab and folds and blubber hanging off my actually slender physique. This is a mental illness called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (1), and it is so very real. This is the disorder which leads to nervous eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and orthorexia nervosa, where one eats in such a way in which they cause physical harm. It is also what leads to excessive exercise and even steroid use for unnatural muscular bulk. Social status means jack squat because even looking for social acceptance leads to disgusting practices which are detrimental to health, like calorie restriction and steroid use, and an irrational abhorrence of healthy practices, like carbohydrate restriction. It is very alarming to see people who are the very epitome of the Holocaust, or people who strive for Schwarzenegger status in their appearance. Gender does not matter. These physiques are actually not realistic nor healthy in any way. Keeping in mind that I am not talking about basic musculature or such in general bodybuilding without extreme measures, nor of a natural slender physique such as my own (I can live on 3500-5000 “calories” of meat and fat alone and not gain an ounce, dude), but in extremes and with the practice of adipose reduction.
A bit of a biology lesson (2):
Essential Body Fat; noun ~ Fat which makes up a major portion of the nervous system, and an equal portion of cellular structure, bone marrow, organs, healthy visceral padding, and a percentage of the adipose. You will die quickly without this.
~Energy storage for emergencies
~Proper reproductive function
Storage Fat (arbitrary—this is an active endocrine organ with way more functions than fat storage, including hormone production and regulation); noun ~ Fat in the subcutaneous and visceral regions which was once believed to be for storage of energy, but is now known as an active endocrine organ vital to normal body function and for health. It also acts as storage of a vital building block of every system in the body: fatty acids.
Study: “Adipose tissue is no longer considered to be an inert tissue that stores fat. This tissue is capable of expanding to accommodate increased lipids through hypertrophy of existing adipocytes and by initiating differentiation of pre-adipocytes. Adipose tissue metabolism exerts an impact on whole-body metabolism. As an endocrine organ, adipose tissue is responsible for the synthesis and secretion of several hormones. These are active in a range of processes, such as control of nutritional intake (leptin, angiotensin), control of sensitivity to insulin and inflammatory process mediators (tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), resistin, visfatin, adiponectin, among others) and pathways (plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) and acylation stimulating protein (ASP) for example).” (3)
Healthy body fat range (2):
10-25% in males
20-30% in females
Falling below these ranges can cause adverse reactions, from heart failure to internal organ bruising, to reproductive failure (both genders), low sperm count (obviously males), and amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycle is common in female endurance athletes and bodybuilders). It is a growing concern in the health community and measures are being taken to counter the effects of excessive exercise and intentional reduction of fatty tissues.
Unfortunately, falling below this is common because of current social views of beauty and aesthetic acceptance, with health being a throwaway in total factors. While some are blessed with the aesthetics of visible musculature, others have a fat layer which while perfectly healthy, are not pleasing to their eyes and so is offensive to them, overall. Having an idea as to where one falls is key in understanding one’s needs over their wants. Similarly, wishing for a board-thin physique worthy of Auschwitz is extremely dangerous. Those people had no choice, but it is a desired thing to be wasting nowadays because of media and a social dysfunction in which extreme leanness became the very definition of beauty, which led to a wave of teen females with severe image issues and even led to deaths from anorexia nervosa methods of conventional calorie restriction based on the teaching of CICOpaths.
All of these disorders are caused by cultural and social “norms”. It does not make it acceptable to do these, but it is an accepted practice, much like foot binding and crippling women in China for decades.
Just be aware if you suffer from this: You are not alone.
Fight it with all your heart.
(NOTE: I am not actually emaciated. This is the result of a collagen deficiency, Ehlers-Danlos hypermobility syndrome, which causes deterioration of tissues and makes it really hard to exercise at all, let alone gain muscles. The muscles, further, just kind of hang there unless flexed constantly, which would be a chore to do just so they are visible. I have to use forearm crutches because all my joints are loose and dislocate chronically, and every joint in my legs is severe so I walk with my arms mainly when I am out of the house. My house has things I can hang onto so I don’t always use crutches in there.)
1. Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD):
2. Thygerson, Alton L. Fit to Be Well: Essential Concepts, 3rd Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 20120213. VitalBook file.
3. Marisa Coelho, Teresa Oliveira, and Ruben Fernandes. Biochemistry of adipose tissue: an endocrine organ. Arch Med Sci. 2013 Apr 20; 9(2): 191–200. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2013.33181