Your body is an important aspect of your identity. I know that sounds kind of obvious, but it’s worth saying. We typically think of “identity” as something much ethereal. It’s who you are in your own brain. But even that ethereal sense of identity is informed by, well, how you look.
It’s not uncommon to refer to how you look in your mind’s eye as your “self-image.” And, some people, their self image is a source of discomfort. This is especially true when your “self image” doesn’t really match up with what you see in the mirror on a daily basis.
This can lead people to try all sorts of ways to “re-shape” their bodies. But which methods really work, and how much control do you really have over the shape of your body?
Does Exercise Give you Control Over the Shape of Your Body?
The first refuge of those looking to change their bodies is usually one of two places: diet and exercise. These are the traditional mechanisms for trying to gain any type of control over the way you look. But how do they really work? Well, let’s take a look at exercise, first of all.
There is no denying the many benefits of exercise. Those benefits include:
- Increased energy
- Improved health
- Improved attention span
- Some evidence suggests exercise improves long term cognitive skills
- Exercise has been show to prevent disease
- Exercise has also been shown to improve overall lifespan
In other words, I’m probably not shocking anyone when I say that exercise is good for you and good for your health. But does it really give you control over the shape of your body? Well, yes and no.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that exercise will give you influence over the shape of your body. Exercise can help you eliminate fat and build muscle. But you have limited control over where your fat will disappear from (though, you do have more control when it comes to the building of fat).
Will a Good Diet Give You Control Over the Shape of Your Body?
So if exercise isn’t going to be the magic bullet, what about diet? As it turns out, there are many similar problems when it comes to diet and controlling the precise shape of your body. Yet again, however, a healthy diet comes with some of its own fantastic benefits:
- A healthy diet can give you improved energy
- A healthy diet can help you slim down and eliminate fat
- A healthy diet can often help you feel better more generally
- A healthy diet can help you sleep better
- A healthy diet can lead to a longer lifespan and a lower chance of ailments such as heart disease
You’ll probably notice two things here: the benefits of a healthy diet line up quite nicely with the benefits of exercise (meaning bonus benefits if you have both). Second, we refer to “healthy diet” rather than “dieting.”
That’s because “dieting” as a way of changing what you eat temporarily to lose weight doesn’t work. Benefits (and results) tend to be, uh, temporary. If you want to change your body by changing what you eat, you need to make permanent (and healthy) changes to your diet.
In other words, temporarily “cleansing” isn’t going to benefit you. But eating less red meat and more green leaves will.
Other Methods to Control How Your Body Looks
However, a healthy diet isn’t going to give you perfect control over the shape of your body either. It doesn’t give you a whole lot of control over where that fat will disappear from. So if you want to get rid of fat around your belly, dieting may not do that—at least not right away.
One option that people have is surgery. There are several types of surgeries:
- Bariatric Surgery is a catchall term for procedures designed to help patients lose weight. Gastric bypass, for example, helps patients lose weight by creating a smaller “bypass” stomach for patients. This smaller stomach means patients get full more quickly and are less prone to overeating (thus reducing their caloric intake). These procedures do carry risks, so they’re generally preserved for patients who have greater risks from excess weight.
- Plastic Surgery is another way to control the way you look. When it comes to reducing weight, for example, liposuction is an incredibly popular way to eliminate fat. And before someone calls liposuction a short cut or an easy way out, I’d like to emphasize that most people use it because your body has a way of storing some fat no matter what you do. According to the website of the New Jersey liposuction experts at East Coast Advanced Plastic Surgery, liposuction is used to eliminate fat that is “immune” to diet and exercise. That can be a big deal to many patients!
Of course, surgery isn’t the only “other” way to control how your body looks. We just don’t have time to discuss them all!
Balancing What You Can Control with What You Can’t
What’s important to emphasize here is that there are some aspects of your body that you can control with diet and exercise and some that you can’t. If you want to lose weight, you can control that (to a degree). If you want to direct that weight loss, that’s another story.
“Controlling” or “sculpting” your body isn’t easy, and you should probably not listen to anyone who says it is. But, you definitely have options. There will be some things that are possible naturally, and some things will need the aid of surgery. The most important thing, however, is that you end up happy and content with the body you have and with your own self image.