Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sex, Lies and Photoshop

What if I told you that Micheal Jordan never really made all of those incredible shots, or that Jerry Rice never actually caught all of those amazing throws from Joe Montana? Imagine if almost everything that you have seen in pictures and t.v. were...lies!

A month ago, I wrote about how the pictures and images of our favorite athletes and models that we see in magazines and even on television are distorted and manipulated through various methods, including water depletion, lighting, tanning and even drugs. However, there was one enormously important piece of the image-manipulation puzzle that I left out: photoshop. Here's an amazing demonstration that I found from that shows how every image that we see in magazines and advertisements can be instantly "improved" with nothing more than a left-click of your computer mouse:

Not only is this a fascinating expose into just how simple and commonplace image manipulation is in everything that we are shown through popular media, it gives us a glimpse into how easily it can be to become dissatisfied and discouraged with our own bodies and the hard work that goes into creating them when we aspire to look like an airbrushed and photoshopped lie.

Altering an image may not be as simple (or as silly) as drawing muscles on yourself with a magic marker (I really am a sucker for a woman with an accent), but the fact is that drawing cartoonish muscles on doctored photos is much more common than you might realize. If you don't recognize this fact every time you reach for the latest issue of your favorite fitness magazine, you'll find yourself in a never-ending cycle of frustration trying to accomplish a promise that was never based in truth.

But don't worry: I swear that none of the before-and-after pictures on my website have been doctored! That was all hard work and effort, not MacBook.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Incredible Success

I just wanted to add a video that I came across while researching yesterday's presentation. It's of a young woman's journey through rehabilitating a T12 ASIA C spinal cord injury:

An inury at T12 will involve her entire lower body from the waist down, including hip and knee flexors and extensors, the hip abductors and the hip adductors. The grading of her injury as "ASIA C" means that, fortunately, there is some preserved muscle control and strength of these lower body muscles, although there will be deficits in at least half of the muscles that you and I will take for granted every time we walk, sit down in a chair, or even simply stand still and maintain our balance.

Rechelle's example of hard work and dedication is both inspiring and humbling at the same time. Be grateful not only for the ability to improve yourself, but for examples like Rechelle that show us that with enough effort and dedication, anything is truly possible.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Achieving Your Goals

Obviously, I've been quite busy this month (and if you've been listening to the FitCast, you know why!). Today, however, all of the work that I've been putting in, not only this past month but the past 34 months, will finally pay off.

Today I will be attending my final scheduled lecture in graduate school.

I'm not quite finished with school entirely, of course: we've got research presentations and submissions for publication taking place in January, as well as our final two clinical rotations which will take us through March of '09. But this is still a major milestone, and it feels terrific!

Achieving predetermined goals is an excellent way to maintain our motivation and focus, not only in school but in the gym as well. In order for these goals to be effective, they need to be realistic and achievable, which unfortunately hasn't always been the case with many of the individuals that I have consulted in the past.

While "I want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks" might sound like a great goal to set before a family reunion, or "I want to increase my bench press by 50 pounds before Spring Break" might be every male college sophomore's sure-fire plan to not get sand kicked in his face in Cancun, they may not be. The problem is in the achievability of those goals. There are a number of factors that will play into accomplishing these weight loss or strength gains within a given time-frame, and it can be devestating not to achieve those goals, especially when you did everything right.

For athletes, this is a normal aspect of sport. Top-level athletes have their entire training schedule built around peaking at the exact time for an exact event during their training cycle: for Micheal Phelps, that might be every 4 years at the Olympics; for Eli Manning it might be the playoffs every January. For the rest of us that don't make a living from our on-field (or in-pool) performance, it doesn't always make sense for us to base our goals on the same parameters.

Build your goals around the things that you can control throughout your day, such as committing yourself to going to the gym 3x/week, or sticking to your diet for a week without cheats, or going to sleep every night by 11 p.m. and not staying up late. These are realistic and achievable goals that, when adhered to and accomplished, will help you towards achieveing the bigger goals: losing 10 pounds so that your Aunt Edna doesn't raise her eyebrow at you when you reach for seconds at dinner!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to finish my last presentation for class, due this afternoon. I'm going to miss grad school...but I won't miss writing papers!