First of all, body image is the way we perceive our own body. There is a full spectrum of images available to us, ranging from a realistic representation to a totally distorted one.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder:
I asked Eileen Adams, MS, MSW from
Remuda Ranch about the issue of distorted body image.
According to Ms. Adams, distorted body image is extremely common and can effect men as well as women. The main difference in men is that in addition to believing they are too large, many also believe their bodies are too small and want more muscle.
A distorted body image is seeing your body in a way that is not reality.
A key to discovering if the perception has crossed the line into distortion will be defining the meaning of looking good.
The clinical diagnostic criteria for Body Dysmorphic Disorder is:
- Preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance. If a slight physical anomaly is present, the person's concern is markedly excessive.
- The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
- The preoccupation is not better accounted for by another mental disorder
If you feel that your symptoms match those criteria, see a qualified therapist for clinical diagnosis and treatment.
Of course, one does not need to have a full-fledged psychological disorder to still have poor body image consequences. Of all the ways in which real or perceived weight gain can destroy marital happiness, the reduction of sexual satisfaction is the most common.
One's negative body image can make them feel less comfortable about nudity. Some women will refuse to keep the lights on during lovemaking, will no longer let their husbands see them naked, and can eventually eliminate sex altogether.
Not surprisingly, if a woman is silently criticizing her body and thinking her husband is doing the same; it may be impossible for her to become aroused into sexual passion. In addition, the desire for sexual intimacy commonly will also decline.
For some men, it may become a hopeless situation at this point. When a woman embodies such hostile feelings about her body, almost any action by her husband can be negatively interpreted. This can further exasperate the condition and perpetuate more problems into the relationship.
The key to finding relief to this problem is to stop running on auto pilot and decide to make a change. Like everything else worth experiencing in life, it may take time and effort.
However, the reward of feeling good about yourself and putting the passion back into your love life will be well worth the effort.
How Bad Is It?
First of all, determine the severity of your problem. If you have an obsessive issue with your body image, make an appointment to get help from a counselor.
If your closest friends and family tell you that your weight and body is normal and you do not agree, you should visit a medical doctor to obtain advice concerning your weight.
If you really are overweight and know that you would feel better about your body by losing a few pounds, decide that today is the day you are going to do something to correct it.
You deserve it and your partner deserves it. The psychological benefits of weight loss usually appear before anyone notices a change in appearance.
A Change Of Attitude:
Women often begin to feel better about themselves simply knowing they are headed in the right direction. That is why you need to make up your mind that today is the first day of your journey into loving your body.
The crucial change is not in the weight per se, but in the attitude about oneself.
You must take control of your attitude and your eating instead of being controlled by them. At that point you will start feeling better about yourself.
When women appreciate their bodies more, they can think about their bodies less. This will free them to redirect their thoughts and attention to others, including their husband.
Most women, after losing unwanted weight, will enjoy more frequent, active, and satisfying sex lives.
A better attitude about one's body can lead to greater sexual desire and less sexual inhibition. In fact, one study showed that almost 60% of women had sex more often and enjoyed it more after they lost weight.
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What Are You Waiting For?
So what is your delay? If the negative feelings about your body are interfering with your love life it's time to turn that around. People can help you.
If necessary, enlist the professional advice of a therapist or personal trainer. Just remember that you have to take the first step. Decide that today is the first day of seeing life differently and having a new attitude.
You can do this.
Lose the weight and turn up the heat!
Pamela is a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer with a passion for fitness and good health. She has obtained certifications from the Cooper Institute, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
She has competed in NPC Figure Competitions and is represented by the FAME Agency for fitness modeling. Please visit her website for more information at www.pamelablackburn.com.