Men's Articles

Target Trouble Spots


You cannot reduce, but you can change areas of your body with weight training techniques like toning and body shaping. You cannot just train or exercise on body part alone - like doing 200 sit-ups every night and nothing else - and expect to see a whole new you.

Let's Start With One Of Women's Biggest Concerns: The Bum

Pile Squats

Stand with your feet wide apart and point your toes outwards. Your feet should be flat on the ground to start with. Hold a dumbbell in both hands. Bend your knees as you would going into a normal squat, and keep your back straight. As you lift back to start position, use your heels to lift up and, at the same time, squeeze your burn. As you progress, you will really start to feel your burn tighten. Do four sets of 25 repetitions.

Bum Tightener

You need the fitball for this exercise. Rest on it, facing down. This requires a bit of balance, so hold on to either a couch or a bench for stability. Working one leg at a time, lift the leg until you can feel the buttocks tighten. Repeat with the other leg. Do four sets of 15 repetitions.

Bum Raise

Get down on all fours for this one. Lift one leg and hold it out behind you, with the knee bent and foot pointing up to the ceiling. Push that leg up so that you really feel the squeeze on your buttocks. Bring that leg back to kneeling position. Repeat these steps for other leg. Do four sets of 25 repetitions.

Step On It

You can do the step-ups either on a staircase at your corridor, with a low bench or at the outdoor fitness corners. The step-ups work your bum and thighs. To make the workout harder, hold a dumbbell in each hand.

A Matter Of Size

Fact: Size matters. How do I know this? Because when I was growing up, my mother and  many of my female relatives took it upon themselves to drum the notion of "skinny is beautiful" into my brain. The soundtrack of my teen years consisted of the following key phrases: "Your thighs are huge."

"It's a shame you're so big, otherwise you could be a model." "Do you really need to eat that?" And, most gallingly: "Did you gain weight again?" Inevitably, 1 was convinced chat being fat or the more PC "big-boned" rendered me less attractive, less likely to be successful and yes, even less accomplished. 

Taking Stock

I know I'm not alone. We are constantly bombarded by images and messages in the mass media that put a premium on physical perfection. From Twiggy (and her similarly formed shape) in the '60s to Kate Moss' waif-like figure in the '90s to present day lollipop-esque celebrities like Nicole Richie and Mary-Kate Olsen, it is clear that being thin is in - and more importantly, being thin is viewed as beautiful. There is a pressure on individuals - celebrities and real women alike - to look their superficial best.

And while the pressure may reap negative repercussions, Irene, a 28-year-old public relations manager, feels that it is only realistic to be vigilant about one's, appearance. "In today's world, it's not just what's on the inside that counts; your outward appearance reflects what's on the inside too. Someone who does not have the discipline to stay healthily trim - note, nor anorexiclike - indicates an ill-disciplined nature and weak self-control," she says. That said, an individual who takes pride in his or her appearance is not necessarily genuinely confident or self-assured. 

Are Thin People Happy?

Put your hand up if you've ever read an article extolling the virtues of a particular diet, which has helped such-and-such a celebrity shed dress sizes overnight. Put your hand up again if, a few issues later, you spot the same celebrity victimised for her extreme weight loss, with her stretch marks and supposed Baggy bits exposed and encircled. A good example is ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham. She is a woman many would love to hate. She lives in the lap of luxury and weighs a feather-light 48kg, even after giving birth to three children.

While her miraculous ability to shrink back to her svelte form is enviable, it must be noted that Victoria has admitted - in her autobiography Learning to Fly (Penguin) - to suffering from anorexia nervosa in the past. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom, only four out of 10 people with fully-established anorexia ever make a full recovery. And Victoria, who leads a very public life, must feel the temptation from time to time, as a result of being in the public eye, to keep up appearances and always look her best.

In February 2006, the UK Sunday Times Style section published an editorial headlined "Is She Having Fun Yet?". The piece described Victoria modelling for fashion designer Roberto Cavalli as "uncomfortable and cripplingly self-conscious". The article went on to describe her gaze at a Chanel couture show as one of "apparent disengagement", and observed that she chooses not to wear a coat in -2 deg C conditions because "they don't look so pretty in pictures".

Particularly damaging also were the numerous sightings of her, in Paris, apparently looking unhappy as she seemed to consume nothing but water or fruit juice during several meals. Wallis Simpson famously declared that you can "never be too rich or too thin". But in the case of Mrs David Beckham, you cannot help but wonder if wealth and skinniness can bring genuine happiness.

The Endless Pursuit

Sam is an ex-model who now works as a successful television producer/ presenter. At 1.8m with flawless skin, defined features and long, toned limbs, she is the centre of attention wherever she goes, thanks to a bubbly personality and sharp mind. And yet, Sam is miserable, imprisoned by her fear of growing fat. Her paranoia relates back to her parents splitting up because her mother was fat, and so for Sam, her weight is an issue.

As a teenage model, to stay skinny, she took drugs and abused her body through bouts of bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Her current hectic work schedule does not allow her to exercise regularly, so she resorts to taking three different slimming pills to maintain her weight. She also admits to obsessing over her weight "at least 70 per cent" every day and steadfastly refuses to give in to her junk food cravings.

"I realise weight has become a major player in my daily life," she admits. "I know that being healthy is the ideal, but if I am at a `healthy weight', I am considered fat or big. Last year, I didn't care about my weight too much but now fm back to starving, taking pills and honestly I'm miserable." She still induces herself to vomit when she feels she has eaten too much, and spends a great deal of time worrying about her appearance and lack of exercise.

"I do wonder if what I am doing to myself will eventually ruin my life. I know what I am doing is so wrong but I feel that to be loved or even accepted, I have to be a certain way" says Sam. Sam is not alone in her dilemma. Over 60,000 women in the UK are treated for eating disorders at any one time, according to British magazine Red. The National Eating Disorder Association in the United States estimates that as many as 10 million women are fighting a life-and-death battle with eating disorders. Going by these statistics, it is clear that for most, even though the "perfect body" remains an elusive dream, the hope (and the abuse) continues.

In Search Of The Perfect Size

Does the perfect size exist? And if so, what form does it take, and are there specific measurements we can tailor ourselves towards? "The `perfect size' is ultimately about proportion and balance," says plastic surgeon Dr Woffles. "You first have to look at the height of the individual and then bring in the different variables for the bust and the hip widths." Dr Woffles cited Hong Kong actress Christy Chung as someone his patients have often quoted as a body ideal.

Dr Wu also refers to a study done by the journal of Sex Research in the US, where several line drawings of a woman with differing bust, waist and hip ratios were used to discover which was deemed the most attractive. "The results were remarkably similar. Women with full, pert breasts and a narrow waist and fuller buttocks were invariably chosen all the time. It was surmised that the choice of the ideal woman correlates with the ideal size proposed to attract a male, otherwise known as the call of procreation," says Dr Woffles.

The study also found that women with a low waist to hip ratio (0.72 and below) have a greater number of sexual partners over their lifetime than women with a higher waist to hip ratio (0.73 and above). "What women don't realise is that when a man sees a skinny woman with no curves and a flat bum, it will cross his mind that she may have an eating disorder and this will stop him from approaching her," says Will, a 32-year-old photographer who is attracted to shapely women. "However, when a man sees a curvy woman, he will more likely find himself naturally attracted to her and subconsciously think about curling up in  bed with her."

The Perfect Fit

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And perhaps this is the only definitive conclusion we will ever arrive at in our quest for the perfect size. Ridiculous as it may sound, the answer lies within your personal shoe collection. Look in, and it's safe to say you'll find all shapes and forms of shoes present. From stilettos, wedges, kitten heels, to pumps and sneakers, different styles for different occasions, linked together by one sentiment:

That each pair appealed to you at the time of purchase. Over time though, chances are you've worn one pair more often than the others because it has proven a) most comfortable, b) most versatile and c) most suitable for a number of occasions. Similarly, the search for the perfect size ends when you find a size that holds the most meaning for you, a size you feel most comfortable about.

 

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