Our perception of health: the battle against dieting and “bigorexia”

A quick introduction:

Staying healthy has become one of the most talked about topics for generations. It persistently comes up in conversation across people of all ages and it affects us all. Undoubtedly our health is crucial, it impacts our daily activity, our ability to live for longer and help us achieve that feel-good-factor. Yet, despite its importance we as a society fear the word and the stigmatisation behind it. To some of us, maintaining this perceived sweat-enduring lifestyle of gym and tasteless food is foreign and pointless. But to the majority of us, this lifestyle is something we are well aware of, however, we lack the knowledge and/or motivation to get us to that dream-goal.

It just so happens I know a thing or two about being healthy. Bred on sports from a young age, regularly researching new ways of staying healthy and relentlessly aiming to reach my desired “look” means this article houses some insider knowledge that could be useful in helping you understand “health” and how to maintain it. I will help you realise that becoming “that person” on social media is not always the “healthiest” option.

But first things first – let me emphasise a point so often ignored. Healthy has different meanings to us all. So, for the purpose of this article, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.

The disarranged meaning behind health today:

We have become obsessed with our personal image today, and I mean obsessed.

Everywhere you look, gyms are crowded, image-related suicide rates are peaking and protein companies are drowning among unprecedented profits.

It has become a true 21st century trend and it looks as if it will continue far into the considerable future. It’s around us in every conceivable place imaginable with the power and connectivity of social media’s presence exacerbating its effect, in ways both good and bad.

Source: pinkvilla.com

Today we fight over what the ideal person is. We voice opinions openly on our perfect dress size or ideal waistline while simultaneously judging those that don’t meet our ideal. Muscles are no longer optional, but a necessity, for the modern man. He will often fear not being “big” enough which runs in parallel to the normalised concept of “constant dieting” encouraged by their female counterparts.

It’s become less about fitness and more about aesthetics – which is not necessarily healthier. Statistics over the last ten years speak for themselves, with the fitness and beauty industries aggressively targeting the male market, relentlessly pushing a male beauty paradigm that is sculpted and god-like. As a result, obsession with muscle building is now commonplace amongst men under 40. The Daily Mail recently reported that up to 45% of men are susceptible to the so-called ‘bigorexia’ at some stage in their lives.

Source: bbc.com
Source: bbc.com

The CTS:

While writing this article in this coffee-table session – the solution to good health, on the face of it at least, seems so simple. Life is about balance and moderation. All evidence supported by countless scholars, epidemiologists and health-experts favours those who sleep at least 7-8 hours a night, eat the right food and regularly exercise are the ones who are really “healthy”. In other words, those you can maintain some sort of balance on how they function in their lives have the power to maintain a “healthy lifestyle”.

And this concept isn’t anything new – the WHO (World Health Organisation) were the first to identify this phenomenon in 1947 when they defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”. It was then in the 50’s and 60’s, that Dr Halbert Dunn was the first to coin the term “wellness”, labelling it as “an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximising the potential of which the individual is capable of functioning within the environment.” Thus, the over-riding point is that great physical health doesn’t necessarily lead to a healthy mind and spirit or as we term – a high level of “wellness”. In fact, good health is more orientated towards the reaching of one’s personal goals and being satisfied with yourself.

Source: nydailynews.com
Source: nydailynews.com

And for those who feel they may be “unhealthy” as they are carrying a bit of extra weight around – irrespective of a few pounds of fat, being metabolically fit is what really matters. A study conducted between 1979 and 2003 on 43,365 participants drew attention to this fact well. Researchers categorised obese participants as metabolically health if, aside from their weight, they didn’t suffer from insulin resistance, diabetes, low levels of good cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood pressure. In other words – it’s the fat on the inside that can really damage us, not the outside. Those who appear trim on the surface can actually carry too much visceral fat and not enough muscle internally and thus be in an unhealthy position then the slightly larger person.

A brief summary:

This session has taught us that looks aren’t everything and that health and what we perceive as perfection are not necessarily related.

Becoming really healthy requires us to put in a small effort in moderating consumption of bad things and upping the exercise we do.

Fat is the enemy to health – the main risk factors including: high cholesterol, obesity, hypertension and diabetes – are all related to difficulties in metabolising it. Thus, exercise still remains one of our most potent weapons. It’s exercise that influences our body and organs in all the right ways.


Hope you enjoyed the session – find my shortlist on the best quick reads to maintain a healthy and balance lifestyle below. Use these in your favour – they are simple to understand and remember that looks aren’t everything – just maintain a balanced diet and regular exercise!


Avoiding bad health

Dieting advice

What to eat


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