When we talk about health and wellness, we frequently refer to improving the appearance of the body. Weight loss or fat loss, muscle growth, toning up the body, and skin clearing are all things I work on not just every day, but several times a day. our should come as no surprise given the prevalence of obesity and inactivity in our country, so many people should wish to do so. However, I'd like to take a moment to discuss a segment of society that frequently seeks assistance with their body but really requires assistance with their mind.
There are people who have genuinely wonderful bodies, but when they look in the mirror, they only see imperfections. They have no excess fat, but they believe they should lose weight. They have lots of muscle yet believe it is insufficient. This is known as body dysmorphia, and it is a true condition. I notice this far more with women than with males, but I do notice it with men. I believe that one of the reasons we have so much of this problem is that we have not clearly defined what health is for everyone.
Add to that the fact that every woman in a magazine speaks about reducing weight and then has a brilliantly photoshopped model on the cover of their magazines, creating an unrealistic picture for women to try to emulate. This is one of the scenarios I present to ladies when we talk about body dysmorphia. If I had a magic wand, I could wave it and make everything great for you. You could search the internet for the best hair, nose, breasts, shoulders, butt, legs, belly, and everything else and I could go poof and you would have all of these things and be extremely healthy, but you would weigh 200 pounds. Would you accept the change?
I warn the women who have body dysmorphia concerns soon after hearing the number so no. This is a lot more common than people realize. For example, I had a wonderful woman come in the other day to see me for weight reduction, and my first question to her was, "OK, how much time do we have, when is your show?" I honestly believed this woman was a professional bikini model who needed assistance losing the last two pounds so she could compete on stage. Unfortunately, she wasn't trying to win a competition; she simply needed to lose weight.
I see teenage females practically starving themselves to achieve some type of illogical goal that isn't even properly stated. So, what do you want to look like? They tell me I'm basically me with less fat. This is a psychological issue that we must all recognize and address. If it was really necessary, I wanted to bring it up today, and I will be working with a team of therapists to help address this issue.
If you or someone you care about suffers from body dysmorphia, form a support group and fight back. Don't let it consume you on the inside. I'll be posting about it more frequently, so keep checking in, but if you think this is you, talk to someone right away.
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Dr. Matt Chalmers
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only. Before taking any action based on this information you should first consult with your physician or health care provider. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions regarding a medical condition, your health, or wellness.