Body Image And The Female Psyche

Over the course of my personal training career, I have had the pleasure of training many female clients. As a matter of fact, I would venture to guess that of all the clients I’ve trained, 85% of them have been women. Being around this many women has given me a fascinating insight into their mindset. Unfortunately, most women are VERY concerned about their outward appearance. What areas are they most concerned about? Here’s a list of the top five areas of their bodies that they focus on the most:

1.  “Granny arms”  A lot of women that I have met will hold up their arms and flap the bottom part and tell me to get rid of the flapping skin.

2.  “Pooch”  Another area of concern for women. They will actually grab that little bit of fat underneath their belly button, and, once again, tell me to get rid of it.

3.  “Butt”  Women are overly concerned about their butt. Why?

4.  “Saddle Bags” Yes, they will grab the sides of their hips and jump on the adductor machines much to my chagrin (see previous post about that evil machine!).

5.  And lastly, I have had more than one woman tell me they hope to reduce the size of their breasts by working out. I must say as a male, I did not see that coming.

Do these sound familiar?

Now as a member of the male genotype, I obviously think different than those of the female genotype. I am not really concerned all that much with my outward appearance. I will admit that back in my bodybuilding days, I did have some sort of an obsession with my body. I was so focused on my goal of building muscle that I had a somewhat distorted view of my body. I wanted to look big.  However, those days have come and gone. I guess as I age and mature, my focus shifts more toward the health aspect of working out and eating right. I look inward instead of outward.

I realize that in our society, we have put a lot of pressure on women to look like the models in magazines.  We as a society hold women to a different standard than we do men.  However, by nature, women must carry a higher percentage of body fat than males.  Women are biologically made to carry more fat to help with child birth and their hormones.

I have two clients right now that just baffle me. One is very petite and weighs about 104 pounds. She is so concerned about losing two more pounds that she talks about it all the time. She DOES NOT need to lose two more pounds! She looks great! But once again, as a society we have put this pressure on her to think that she has to lose the weight.  Another client is very physically fit, does exercises that most women could not do, does road rides all the time, but she has a little “pooch.” She is very concerned about that as well. She too looks amazing! But it’s that one area that brings her much agony.

As a personal trainer, it is my job to help my clients stop focusing so much on their outward appearance and change their entire paradigm. The first concern when exercising and eating right is what is happening on the inside. Just think about all the wonderful health benefits that are taking place with your body–lower blood pressure, less chance of diabetes, cancer prevention, stronger bones, etc. I could go on forever with the list of health benefits of exercising and eating right.

Your #1 priority when you live a healthy lifestyle is what you are doing for yourself on the inside. What happens on the outside is just a bonus and should be your secondary concern. The weight loss will come if you change your lifestyle and STICK TO IT!

I know this is a touchy subject, so I look forward to your comments!

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