Fitness Blog by Mike Farho

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The Mirror May Be Lying

Thu, 18 May 2006 from RealAge.com

Do you see yourself as fat or frumpy? Blame it on your brain.

Here's why: Your brain routinely maps your body using visual cues and signals from your skin, joints, and muscles. But snags in this system can distort the image and make you mentally overestimate or underestimate your actual body size. So if you want an objective view of your body, don't rely on only your eyes; use your bathroom scale and the way your clothes fit as well.

Researchers know that people with anorexia and other eating disorders have problems seeing their actual body size. The problem may be in a specific portion of their brain.

Although only a small percentage of people have a diagnosed eating disorder, many other people struggle with body image issues. These can lead to unhealthy, aging behaviors like extreme dieting, emotional overeating, compulsive exercise, abuse of weight-loss or muscle-building products, heavy smoking, or excessive caffeine consumption.

If any of this sounds uncomfortably familiar, instead of letting body image issues push you off your healthy lifestyle, try to focus less on how you look and more on how you feel. Use your eating habits, exercise patterns, and other lifestyle choices to help you feel strong and energized. And keep reminding yourself of all the things your body can do when you are fit and well nourished.

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