Your perfect body
Achieve your perfect body, or consistently fail to look like someone else’s? It’s your choice.
Experts suggest these statistics are largely due to the greater availability of food – especially food high in fat, changes in lifestyle, and advances in technology leading to declining physical activity. These changes in social norms combined with a media portrayal of the ‘perfect’ body being extremely thin for women and extremely ripped for men, has led to the desire to lose weight and look ‘perfect’ becoming a daily frustration for many. We are quickly becoming a world obsessed with physical appearance, and for some people a change in diet and regular exercise is enough to gain muscle or lose and keep weight off long-term. However, science suggests that others may actually have inherited a tendency to be overweight. Here’s two examples:
Leptin (from the Greek word ‘leptos’, which means ‘thin’) is a protein that is involved in telling our brains we are full. Leptin is released by fat cells and results in decreased food intake and increased energy expenditure. It therefore acts as an anti-obesity hormone. As a result of heredity, some people may naturally carry less of this anti-obesity hormone compared to others, meaning they may need to be more vigilant with what they eat to avoid unnecessary over-eating.
Set Point is the weight you maintain when you make no effort to gain or lose weight. The amount of stored fat in your body is an important factor in determining your body’s set point. Fat is stored in adipose cells, and when these cells are filled you do not get hungry. When people gain weight, the number of their fat cells increase. A normal weight individual has 30-40 billion fat cells, while an obese individual has 80 to 120 billion fat cells. As a result of heredity, some people naturally have more adipose cells and therefore carry more stored fat compared to others, meaning they may need to exercise and diet harder to lose and keep weight off.
With the right type and amount of effort it is possible for people to lose weight, tone their physique and build muscle mass. However, your body is completely unique to everyone else’s and therefore has its very own expression of ‘perfect’. Your body’s expression of perfect i.e. the best your body could ever be with all the exercising and dieting in the world, may actually be very different to what the media (or your gym) says is ‘perfect’.
If you are trying to lose weight, tone your body, build muscle or ‘look perfect’, it is important to be realistic about what your goal is based on what is possible for you and your body. If you have an unrealistic expectation of your body’s ability to look a certain way, this may lead you to give up on your fitness goal at the first sign that looking like Miranda Kerr is not possible for you. Alternatively, your unrealistic expectation of what you want your body to look like compared to where it is today, may be completely stopping you from even getting started with regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Instead of seeking to achieve someone else’s perfect body, why not aim to spend all those hours exercising and eating healthily to find out what your perfect body is? What will you look like once you’ve achieved your ideal weight, toned your physique or put on muscle mass? Try making your health and fitness goal to be the perfect version of you, rather than an imperfect version of someone else.
Balkau, B. et al. (2007). International Day for the Evaluation of Abdominal Obesity (IDEA): A study of waist circumference, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus in 168,000 primary care patients in 63 countries. Circulation.
Beydoun, M. A., & Wang, Y. (2009). Gender-ethnic disparity in BMI and waist circumference distribution shifts in US adults. Obesity.
Santrock, J.W. (2014). Life span development. McGraw-Hill Education (Australia) Pty Ltd: NSW.