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Wednesday
Nov122014

Am I photoshopping my life? 

Have you ever watched a YouTube clip which shows the process involved in a fashion magazine shoot with an amazing, almost perfect looking model? It’s an eye-opening experience to say the least, seeing the transformation of the photo from the raw image to the end of the post production process shows us that the end product isn’t even real.  Once the makeup artist and photographer do their best to create a good shot the real magic begins, a graphic artist then uses their highly trained skills to create a picture that has no human fault.  

When these clips started to show up on the internet they instantly became viral, the comments they generated highlighted how people felt and the message was loud and clear - these false images were harming society by creating unrealistic expectations around how people should look which leads to negative self perception. I know that when I look at some magazines these days I remind myself that what I’m looking at is not real and that I shouldn’t place any expectations on myself based on what I’m seeing - what I am seeing is unrealistic. 

While I have trained myself to do this, recently I had an experience which made me think about something that I was doing that may be having a similar, albeit possibly smaller affect on others. One day I jumped on Facebook and checked out my profile page, a friend of mine had tagged a photo of me and it’s fair to say that I hated the photo, I felt like I looked like absolute crap. All of the insecurities I have about my image were glaringly obvious and right there for all the world to see, as quickly as I could I untagged the photo, I didn’t want my world to see this photo of me. 

This experience made me think about my Facebook page, is it a real representation of my life or is it a carefully crafted representation of how I would like my world to see me? If I am honest about it, my social media profile isn’t 100% me, it’s the 100% me that I would like my world to see. I’ve subconsciously, and at times consciously, tweaked it to influence the way people think of me when they see my profile. I don’t feel my profile is a lie, it’s just that the majority of the time I only show the good parts. If you look through the photos you won’t see ones where I look like rubbish, my written posts tend to represent the personality/character traits that I would like my world to see in me, they don’t show sides of my personality that may risk judgement that I don’t like. 

The question I have been asking myself since thinking about this is; am I willing to shift my approach to the way I use social networking? Am I willing to be more risky with my thoughts, to put images up where I feel my insecurities are exposed? 

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I will and I’m ok with this, to me it’s ok to want to protect yourself but there is an important point to think about with social media. Like the carefully crafted and manipulated magazine photos, the majority of social networking profiles and outlets aren’t the true, 100% representation of the person that it portrays. The reason this is an important thing to remember is that we can look at our social media outlets and think that everyone else has an amazing lives but mine is not. These types of thoughts can lead to negative assessments of ourselves which can be harmful to us in many ways. 

My point here isn’t that you need to get rid of the social media in your life, it’s just that it’s good for you to create a way to remind yourself that what you are looking at is a curated version of someones life that will tend to be a representation of all of the good sides of that person. If you look at social media and feel that everyone else has an amazing life and yours is lacking remind yourself of this point and that you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself. See the pictures you have in front of you for what they really are, it’s the healthy approach to this world.  


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Friday
Oct312014

Having helpful hard conversations

Sometimes there are people in our lives that are toxic for us. They can make you feel bad about yourselve, say hurtful things, make you feel uncomfortable, or just give off an energy that you don’t like. I’ve always approached these types of people with the ‘how can I get away from them asap?’ approach. I feel my life is to short to be consumed by those who take me to a bad place within myself. Protecting yourself against these people is an important part of staying healthy in your life as they can end up owning a lot of your energy in ways that aren’t good for you. While we have all experienced that toxic person at times today I want to take a closer look at another type of person in your life, the good friend who promotes behaviours you are trying to stay away from. 

I was talking to a guy the other day who made me think about this subject. This guy had been working hard to lose some weight over the last six months. He’d changed his diet habits, included exercise in his life and had reduced the amount of drinking that he was doing. His change in behaviours had lead to some great results where he’d nearly lost 20kg and was feeling healthier and more energised. When we were talking he mentioned that he was struggling with one of his best mates. He asked me ‘what do you do when one of your mates is continually at you to keep drinking when you have changed the way you drink? As our conversation went on it was pretty clear that he valued his mate and that he wasn’t someone who he didn’t want in his life but there was just this one problem. He wanted to figure out how he could stop this from happening. 

There are many factors that can lead to this place and it’s hard to know why the friend is encouraging his drinking. It might be the friend is confronted by his friends achievements and is feeling insecure so they want to keep their friend in the same place, or it could be as simple as the friend sees drinking as the way they socialise together so he’s just trying to set up the way he traditionally caught up with his mate. We can come up with many different scenarios for the motivation of why the friend keeps encouraging the drinking, some good and some bad, but ultimately we would never know unless we had a talk to the friend. 

When the guy who had lost the weight and I were having our conversation I asked him if he had talked to his mate about it. He replied that he hadn’t. While he was getting frustrated with his friends pushing of alcohol he had never let his friend know that he had shifted away from drinking and would like it if he didn’t propose it so much. 

Having tough conversations with others can be hard. Often when we think about them we can see all of the ways they will go wrong which makes it harder for us to do them. The interesting thing about this drinking situation was that the guy I was talking to, who was losing weight, was pulling away from his friend. He was losing interest in his friend because of the alcohol questioning but at the same time his friend may have not even known that this was a problem.  

When we confront a true friend about the tough things they will respond in the best way. If this guy let his friend know that he would prefer for him to not suggest alcohol and that he would like to do other activities with him he is then giving his friend a chance to make changes in their relationship that will create a stronger connection. A good friend would make the required change. When you are willing to have the hard conversations you may find that sometimes people won’t change, at that time you can reassess if it’s worth having this person in your life but at least this way you have given them the choice.  

Change can be hard and in trying to set up change we want to put as many of the cards in our favour as possible. The people we have around us are a big part of this. While it may be hard to have these conversations if you can be open with them about how their actions are making it harder for you you will be making it easier for you to be successful and at the same time hopefully creating stronger friendships which will make your life better in many ways.  


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Wednesday
Oct292014

Episode 45 Fitness Behavior - An interview with me

This month I share and interview that I had with Radio New Zealand's Kathryn Ryan about my book. Hopefully you enjoy it. I also answer some questions from listeners.

 

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