It’s A Thought I’ve Often Wondered
The short answer is yes, it really does. Well, not entirely, but mostly. Your perception of yourself is not what you might think, and that is completely normal. I have this new guy that’s working for me in one of the kitchens I am currently running. Small crew, and we have some slower days, so we hang out a lot and chat about a lot of varying things.
On one of these occasions, the dishie was chatting with my 2nd cook, and was telling him little random tricks about the body, and about perception. One was that the length of your arm, from your elbow to your hand/wrist, was the same length as the size of your foot. He was stunned and would not believe it.
He said we were all liars and just trying to mess with him, as he was from another country. I took my shoe off and squatted down (yes Lincoln, and I didn’t even hurt myself. Ass.), and showed him that it was true. Dishie did the same, and his jaw dropped. He ripped off his shoe and tried it. He nearly fainted. I can’t make this shit up, and am not. I’ll also wait while you test this theory out.
Neat, huh? Anyways, all of us see ourselves in a completely different way. This is why, for the most part when transitioning from an unhealthy weight (ie. Fat) to less unfit state, you won’t notice much of a difference. You see yourself in the mirror everyday. You are along for the transition, and don’t notice most of the change. You eventually do, but for the first bit, it truly is disheartening.
That mirror that you stare into everyday, lies. More accurately, your eyes lie to your brain about what it sees. We each perceive things differently when we stare at ourselves, and judge sizes. Kind of like that foot/arm trick. You want to see results? Cover your mirrors in your home for two weeks. When you go to the gym, try not to workout in front of a mirror. Do the best you can to avoid a mirror that shows your body as much as possible. After two weeks, uncover them. It’s a nice little confidence boost, and you will see that you actually are making progress. It’s just a time thing. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
But there are other times where this isn’t the case. This is a far more serious issue than people admit, or know about for that matter. It’s called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD from here on out). We all have parts of ourselves we dislike. Whether it be our toes, big ears, weird noses, or being “Hefty with style”. BDD is the extreme version of this. It’s essentially a mental disorder in which you don’t perceive yourself in any normal fashion of any kind. It leads to excessive dieting and exercise, that can segue into other issues like anorexia and bulimia, and other forms of excessive starvation.
It can also cause a person to form habits of extreme fitness and workout regimens.
When I say excessive, I mean working out for three to five hours a day, way more cardio and weight training than you need, and can cause a person to collapse from exhaustion. In extreme cases, people have died from the lack of rest and proper dieting.
So far, researchers aren’t 100% certain what causes it, but they have some ideas. BDD can also cause another issue called Othorexia Nervosa, and no that is not a Harry Potter spell. It is translated and defined as “a fixation on righteous eating”. That means that there are people out there that have snapped completely. They become obsessed with eating healthy, to a point where it is all they can do. They watch calorie intakes, fats, etc. Any slip up and they lose it. They punish themselves, usually with stricter meals, and foods. It ironically ends up harming them because they become so restrictive, they are not consuming a properly balanced diet.
In some cases, they can become psychologically unbalanced towards themselves. Not in the “time to off myself” category, but with their mental perception on themselves. Their self esteem becomes really low, and they think less of themselves. It can lead to social issues with themselves and their peers. They become isolated, as they don’t want to risk their diets at dinner parties and social gatherings.
If you’re wondering about the difference between anorexia or bulimia , and orhorexia, its not so much an obsession about calories and weight with anorexia and bulimia. With orthorexics, they obsess about healthy eating, not about being “thin” and losing weight. I won’t go into symptoms and such, as you can find that in the provided link, but I will say it is more of a serious issue than people think. Mostly because a lot of people have never heard of it, so they don’t even think it’s an issue.
One thing to remember is that all of the above issues are usually done to the extreme for everything. Caring about eating healthy and balanced does not mean you are orthorexic, or have another eating disorder. Wanting to be healthier, and working hard to do it, does not mean you have BDD. These are all in the extremes, and if you ever notice that you are going to the extremes in terms of weight loss, you need to take a step back and reevaluate what you are doing.
I know I feel like I go to the extreme on occasion, but I also know where to draw the line. Always keep that thought in your head, and you will be fine.