If the fashion designers and media hype had their way everyone would look the same. Thin, even gaunt, we are told is attractive. We will be loved and happy if we are thin. Of course, we all know this isn’t true, just ask any model and they will tell you it can be hell emotionally and physically keeping their figure at a size 6. A whole generation suffering from eating disorders is the result of this dangerous designer fixation. We all see the images in the media or television and this conveys the message of how we are supposed to look, ads enforce these images with false promises that “you too can have a body like this!” and we believe it, time and time again. When the desired goals aren’t reached we’re made to believe we have failed, which in turn grows into low self-esteem. So what do we do? EAT! In a vicious cycle that can eventually make us very ill. We need to put these images into prospective and realize that most of the population just do not have the genetic predisposition to look like the models in the magazines, plus most images are now adjusted by computers to look better than they actually are, so how can we ever win!
The fact is we are not all meant to be thin. In some cultures around the world, a woman is looked upon as beautiful if she is voluptuous and curvaceous. If we look at renaissance paintings of beautiful women they were definitely not thin. Editors of fashion magazines are beginning to understand that the average woman cannot relate to the dazzling celebrities and rail-thin models and are beginning to use models with a fuller figure.
In May 2004, Glamour Magazine broke a cardinal rule by putting the sizable Queen Latifah on the cover. It outsold the May 2003 cover, which featured svelte actresses Halle Berry and Rebecca Romijn. Dove recently started an ad campaign featuring “real” women — ranging from size 6 to 14 — that shows them wearing only bras, panties and big smiles on billboards, bus stops and trains in Chicago, New York, and other cities. Jane Keltner, fashion news editor at Teen Vogue, said, “We try to use all shapes and sizes, but we’re especially interested in their sense of personal expression and style.”
Brittany Harper, is a plus-sized 20-year-old who has competed in and won several beauty pageants against average-sized girls in the US said she’s pleased to see bigger women in magazines. “I think maybe seeing someone like me in a magazine makes you realize that you don’t have to be skinny to be pretty,” she said. “People see skinny girls in magazines and they think that’s what normal is when it’s not the case.” Harper said she started entering the pageants because she was shy and self-conscious but now she’s happy with her body.
So what is your body type?
Modern science has categorized body types into three groups;
Ectomorphs: The skinny person with a linear appearance, small muscles, ultra fast metabolism, low body fat, narrow shoulders, hips and waist.
Mesomorphs: The naturally muscular person with wide shoulders, small waist, athletic build, low body fat percentage with a healthy metabolism.
Endomorphs: The naturally large person characterised with a round face, wide hips, big bones, slow metabolism and high number of fat cells.
These three categories sound very much like the body types found in the ancient preventive medicine from India called Ayurveda. They also placed body types into three categories, but they linked them to the elements and called them Vata, Pitta and Kapha and also associated them with psychological characteristics also.
Vata types are very similar to Ectomorphs. They can be very tall or very short, with thin bony limbs. They walk quickly, talk quickly and find it difficult to sleep. The skin is thin and dry, eyes small, as is the mouth with thin lips. They find it difficult to gain weight, which can cause health problems. They can be creative, enthusiastic people who can be generous. They avoid confrontation. Fearful, worrisome and anxious they are into questioning, theorizing and over-analysis. Often dissatisfied with and unable to sustain friendships, they spend money quickly, often on trivial things.
Pitta types are similar to Mesomorphs with a moderately well developed physique with muscular limbs. Later on in life they do have a tendency to gain weight around the thighs and hips. There speech is loud, strong, precise, and convincing. The skin is fair and tends to burn easily in the sun with freckles, many moles, and a tendency to rashes. Their eyes are either light blue, light gray or hazel in color, with an intense luster, which get red in summer or after bathing. They can be ambitious, confident and focused, but have a tendency to become jealous and aggressive by nature. Argumentative, but with a sense of humour, their selective memory makes them fast learners. Moderately passionate in their sexual pursuits, they spend moderately, usually on luxuries.
Kapha types are similar to Endomorphs with a thick, well-developed frame and large, limbs. They are typically more heavily boned and carry more fat than muscle. Generally their legs are shorter than their bodies. Fat stores will accumulate around their stomachs, and their breasts may be larger than “the norm”. There voices are often pleasant, deep and resonant with low, slow, rhythmic speech. The skin is often cool to the touch and smooth. The face is large, as are the eyes with large, full lips. They make caring individuals, who are patient, compassionate and grounded. Quite passionate, they love to spend money on others.
Most of us of a mixture of two body types and by identifying the kind of body type(s) you are will help you understand why even with diet and exercise you cannot change what you were born with – just as you can’t grow any taller once you are an adult. What the emphasis should be placed on is not what shape you are but are you physically healthy and content with who you are?
The practice of Ayurveda turned keeping these body types or different constitutions balanced into a science. They incorporated different lifestyles for different body types; exercise, diet, environment, work, relationships. They also took into consideration that we are not just a body, but a mind also. Our minds and bodies are linked, if we “feel good” in our heads, invariably our bodies will be in good health also, and visa versa.
Routine is very important to keep Vata people balanced and healthy. Whatever exercise you do remember your energy should remain even, steady and consistent. Hiking is a good exercise just so long as you remember to take your time and be aware of your surroundings. Yoga poses of course are great, particularly Lotus, Lion, Tree, Triangle, Cobra, Forward bends and Corpse (relax for at least 20 minutes)
Stay away from salads, raw and cold foods that have been in the fridge forever. Hearty soups and casseroles, fresh bread and butter. Stick with fresh, warm, moist and nourishing.
Focused, still and grounded. Try to be in the moment. Remain calm. Learn to meditate, listen to some soothing music at the end of the day. Think through what you want to say before you say it! Learn to quiet the mind with deep breathing or pranayama, which can be learnt at yoga classes.
Get into a steady routine, especially with meals and sleeping patterns. Get plenty of rest and relaxation.
Aim for stability and serenity in your daily routine.
Calm, slow, steady, grounding, strengthening and consistent
Be careful not to exert yourself to the extent that too much heat is generated in the body. Focus on exercise like swimming, Thai Chi, calming and cooling Yoga poses like Triangle, Tree, Fish, Staff, Half Moon always finish with relaxation.
Stay away from hot, spicy, salty foods. Avoid stimulants. Go for moderation!
Try to remain calm in stressful situations. Do not take on too many projects. Remain receptive, but detached. Aware, but not critical.
Early to bed, early to rise. Plan ahead. Give yourself a lunch break. DO not work too late.
Moderation, cooling, relaxing, gentle, forgiving and tolerant
Kapha exercise should be stimulating and active, increasing metabolism and circulation. Care must be taken not to overstrain though! Whatever you choose, do it every day. Fast walking, pilates, yoga. Great poses are Lion, Downward Dog, Bridge, Shoulder Stand, Plow, Extended hand to toe
Raw foods, such as salads, or semi cooked such as veggies cooked in a wok. Pungent foods such as garlic, ginger, kale, mustard, tomatoes and peppers are very good also. No iced drinks please.
Try to unburden yourself from the past. Move forward and feel positive about every aspect of yourself.
Kapha’s should try to vary their routine. Try not to sleep too much. Get out there and show the world how dynamic you can be.
Stimulating, drive, warming, energizing, experiencing and releasing
Learn to love yourself for who you are, not who you wish to be. Acknowledge that you need to improve your health or weight but believe that you will do what you can to be the best you can possibly be. The constant pressure and stress of trying to turn yourself into someone you physically cannot be will stop and it’ll be an enormous weight off the shoulders, you’ll be surprised at how good it will make you feel and how this can help drive your motivation to make realistic improvements. When we understand and appreciate our bodies, we are able to work with them, not against them! Many of us have a tendency to look at our bad points, however once you start to accept who you really are it will be easier to focus on the positive side more. Try making a list of all the positive things you’ve done or what you like about your self (both physical and mental). Practice running these positives through your mind regularly, and try a new lifestyle that matches your constitution and see what changes happen within a few short weeks.