The Importance of Optimism
Natalia Zurowski, Features Columnist
A brief look on the harmful physical and mental effects of stress and how it may be preventing you from reaching your weight loss goals
The rigorous demands of our industry result in many models ending up desperate to lose weight at some point. From diet fads (e.g. Atkins, Herbal Magic), detoxes, over-exercising – and in very rare, but severe cases, bulimia or anorexia – models try every 'quick weight loss' option on the market. With the wide range of options available, it is easy to get caught up in the hype of different diets and workouts, without considering other plausible reasons you have been unsuccessful in achieving your weight loss goals.
What is the answer? Cardio? Yoga? Increasing your daily vegetable intake? Yes, each of these measures can tremendously improve your overall health; however, many models continue to struggle with losing weight and experience frustration and anxiety. As a result, many resort to unhealthy weight loss measures to achieve their goals quickly. What they often forget is that weight loss takes time and is not just influenced by what you do physically, but also your state of mind. An often forgotten factor that may be responsible for your inability to lose weight could be the stress you experience in your everyday life.
In today's fast-paced society, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. We run from errand to errand, coffee in one hand, papers in the other, frantically waving our arms yelling, "I'm going to be late! I'm going to be late!" In the rare moment we manage to sit down and breathe a sigh of relief, we begin to think of all the errands we have yet to finish. We panic, and as a result our stress levels rise and go into overdrive.
Let's take a look at a stressful situation many models have experienced: Your booker tells you that you need to lose an inch off your hips (did I strike a nerve?). You get upset and explain your body is not the same as it was when you were a teenager. Your booker's facial expression is enough for you to realize that you either do as they ask or start looking for a new agency.
To compensate for the hatred you feel (towards your agent and yourself), you decide to partake in what seems a great idea at the time: binge-eating. Before I continue, I want to stress that it is not wrong to treat yourself. If you want a piece of chocolate, have a piece of chocolate. However, do not eat an entire bar in less than a minute and cry about it later.
I also strongly encourage you to not go to your nearest McDonald's and buy a happy meal. The ironic thing about those is you often don't feel particularly happy after eating one. Or if your head does, your stomach most likely does not. After eating a happy meal you realize what you have done: you have committed carbicide (d: an overdose in your daily intake of carbohydrates). As a result, you begin to feel bad about yourself and become an over-consuming vortex by eating everything and anything in your path. When you finally settle down, you cry and curse yourself as though you have committed an axe murder: "Oh my God, what have I done?"
Even more frustrating is when you are eating healthy, exercising and still cannot lose weight. You get frustrated and start asking yourself questions like, "Why me?" or "What am I doing wrong?" This lack of self-efficacy is a precursor to stress that only pushes you further away from your goals. In addition, if the source of the stress remains unresolved, the increase of stress is a sure indicator of the possible onset of depression. The feelings of doubt, sadness, and a lack of motivation become overwhelming - you no longer want to go to the gym, you stop trying at castings and as a result, you start to feel a loss of control. Anyone who has ever experienced depression, or knows someone who has, is greatly aware of how it can affect someone's quality of life; not just mentally or emotionally, but physically.
As you feel down about yourself, what exactly is going on in your brain that is causing you to feel this way?
Jump ahead to Part II and I'll tell you.