ByÂ Rajaram Suresh:
Whether a Hollywood actor plays a watchman or a cop, a nurse or a secret agent, we’ve always envisioned them with extremely fit bodies, rippling six-pack abs or lithe, curvy torsos. In Bollywood, Salman Khan was the reigning fitness icon every time his beefy frame adorned the screen. The buck then passed to Hrithik Roshan, when he seamlessly transitioned from a boyish actor to India’s alpha male. With subsequent Khans in their 40s joining the bandwagon, the six-pack was no longer as tough as it once seemed.
Drawing numerous examples from Hollywood, and more recently Bollywood, the perfect figure had earlier been a distant dream for the common man. However, nowadays, with more and more actors sporting sculpted bodies with ease, the dream of a six-pack or a size zero is moving closer and closer towards reality. What is seen on-screen is the result of weeks and months of hard work, the magnitude of which most of us fail to comprehend. Some of us focus solely on the end result and not always on the means. This, apart from being the wrong way to go, could also take a severe toll on your body.
How thin is Size-Zero?
A woman or an adolescent girl with size zero would mean that she has a waistline of just 56 cm. This means that she could wind a meter-tape almost twice round her waist! While it’s meant to give a feeling of fitness and look easy on the eye, there have been examples which achieved neither. What happens when an average teenager sets out to look like Kareena Kapoor in Tashan? She begins to starve every day, reducing her intake to the barest minimum. As a result, she is forced to cut down on the essential nutrients, without which the body uses its reserve fat, making it a very unpleasant way to lose weight. More often than not, once she hits size-zero, she finds it near impossible to sustain her brutal dieting regime. As a result, she starts eating more, while the body is still devoid of reserve fat. Eventually, rapid fat accumulation takes place, defeating the whole purpose of what she initially set out to.
In some instances, starvation triggers multiple diseases pertaining to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Marasmus and Kwashiorkor are direct causes of malnutrition. In most cases, starvation also leads to lower concentration-levels and shorter attention spans, not to mention the constant sinking feeling and the inner voice that whispers, ‘I am not good enough, and hence I need to thin down’
The Six-Pack Craze
It all began when Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan came out and showed the boys how it’s done. Ever since Om Shanti Om, Indian men have gone gaga about six-pack abs. While there have always been those who succeed in striking the right balance between a healthy diet and a rigorous workout, many cases of diet-pills and steroid abuse still find their way to our ears. With almost every gym showcasing bodybuilder-models with bulging muscles, it’s only ironical that the very place to train hard for natural abs, publicly displays steroid-fed muscular models for their advertisement.
Steroids are widely perceived to be performance-enhancing shortcuts to bodybuilding, as they increase the production of testosterone, rendering the body capable of lifting more weight, hence beefing it up very quickly. But the disadvantages far outweigh its benefits. Some of the most common cons of anabolic steroids are male pattern baldness, hepatotoxicity, acne, and gynecomastia. When there are so many reasons to keep from using them, why do people still turn to steroids?
A major proportion of steroid users are older men, searching for ways to beef up easily. With age, the biological metabolism slows down, making it that much tougher for older men to develop muscles in the same time as their younger counterparts. Another fraction of steroid users are bodybuilding fanatics who have little else on their mind other than bodybuilding, leading to overtraining, which, more often than not, is uncalled for.
Which side do we choose?
A healthy body is indispensable for a disease-free lifestyle. However, a lot depends on what the individual’s perception of a ‘healthy lifestyle’ is. Bigger muscles don’t always imply a fitter body, and succumbing to the size-zero features nowhere close in the ‘Top 10 health tips’ that any trainer would suggest. That being said, it is not unhealthy for one to desire a sculpted body. The first step one should take is approach a reputed trainer and place oneself completely under his/her control. Systematic training, with adequate supplements — if necessary — would easily suffice. Obviously, natural body building and slimming would take much longer than ‘easier’ drastic measures, but it certainly has a positive impact on our body, health, and most importantly, our psyche.