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Yoga Heals Series: Hunter Cook on Self-Image, Growing Up Overweight, and the Image of Perfection in Fitness

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“People display their highlight reels and Photoshopped images, thinking they are portraying what people want to see “fitness” as, but in turn they are actually making the gap wider than ever before between the “average” person and the person they expect that they can become under a proper diet and exercise program.”

Hunter Cook | Instagram: @hunterfitness

The struggle I had plagues many of us, especially in the fitness industry that I work in. That would be my relationship with my own self-image. I grew up overweight and was out of shape for almost all of my childhood. I wouldn’t change my path even if I could—because it has developed my passion for fitness that has sparked my business that is thriving today—but it is still something that I am reminded of every time I look in the mirror.

Self-image issues are a gateway to body dysmorphia issues, and for many, eating disorders as well. I am in an industry where perfection is expected. And we are in a time when perfection is portrayed on the regular by most in the fitness industry. People display their highlight reels and photoshopped images, thinking they are portraying what people want to see “fitness” as, but in turn they are actually making the gap wider than ever before between the “average” person and the person they expect that they can become under a proper diet and exercise program. I am a work in progress. I know these aren’t considered major human struggles, but I am working on making sure that they never define me. The best part about having this understanding is that I get to open a dialogue about this subject with my clients and can discuss it with them while expressing empathy since I have been in their shoes. I then teach them how to take control over their body image, like I did, with a combination of exercise, diet, yoga, and an open discussion with people you care about concerning how you feel.

Facebook: Hunter-Fitness | Photo: RYAN TIEHEN

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