Jun 30, 2008

Katrina's 5-Minute Stretch Routine

Check out Katrina's super quick warm up stretch routine.

Jun 24, 2008

Deception of Perfection - The Photoshop Effect Part 2

Did you know that 99.9% of images you see in the magazines have been altered in one way or another? Whether it’s the erasing of a blemish or the whittling down of the waist, most pictures are not published in their original state. If we are never exposed to the imperfections of models and celebrities how can they possibly serve as healthy responsible role models?

We blamed Britney Spears for corrupting teenage girls when she danced around in a schoolgirl uniform, but should we have blamed the photo editors for retouching the pictures of an already beautiful teenager? I, for one, looked at pictures of Brit Brit in magazines in high school and only wished my abs could look as toned as hers. Did I diet and exercise to get similar results? To be honest I don’t remember, but I did compare myself and I did in fact do some of her workout moves I saw on E! or Extra.

The truth about retouching photos is that no one knows when they are seeing a real picture or a digitally altered representation. America is not seeing an epidemic of eating disorders, but rather we are in the middle of an “obesity epidemic” (oh how I hate that term, but for a lack of better words and to get my point across).

The altered images go from the pages of a magazine to the new standard for perfection. Don’t we all want to be perfect? Well, most of us will never achieve perfection but we can strive for it! Some of us will diet for a week, maybe a month or two. Few will go to extremes and develop actual eating disorders and many will fail to even shed a pound resulting in the polar opposite. Trying to reach that target weight that is not possible with healthy means can result in frustration, self-loath, and extreme-dieting techniques that lead to binging and the net result is weight gain.

To prevent this deceit, I propose that we add a disclaimer to all retouched images in all magazines letting the reader know that the image has been altered and is not what the person would look like in person.

“According to a study in the latest issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the risk of developing eating disorders was reduced 61% among Body Project participants. And they continued to exhibit positive body-image attitudes as long as three years after completing the program, which consists of four one-hour sessions. Such lasting effects may be due to girls' realizing not only how they were being influenced but also who was benefiting from the societal pressure to be thin. "These people who promote the perfect body really don't care about you at all," says Kelsey Hertel, a high school junior and Body Project veteran in Eugene, Ore. "They purposefully make you feel like less of a person so you'll buy their stuff and they'll make money." Time.com

This sort of thing is now being called “body activism.” I guess that makes me a body activist? If you agree with my proposal check out our YouTube Video for a few samples of what the warning may look like. Also, add your comments and ideas for what’s next. Where should we take my new regulation idea?

Here is another article from March that suggests magazines in the UK may be one step ahead of the US. The Brits want magazine editor to implement guidelines on the amount of retouch that is allowed suggesting that they are acting irresponsibly and supporting a size-zero culture.

Jun 16, 2008

The Photoshop Effect

When did we become so obsessed with the idea of perfecting oneself? I have a great job. I enjoy the people I work with, and I enjoy the work that I do. I am lucky and I try not to forget it. However, whenever one of my videos begins to do well on YouTube, the commentators berate me over my weight. Instead of telling them off (again), I chose to investigate why people perceive me as fat. What does perfect look like and why do people believe I need to look it?

In the pursuit of perfection, I went on my very first Photoshop photo shoot but not before I pondered, what is perfection? After spending the past few weeks researching the photo-doctoring tactics used by most – if not ALL – magazine and TV types, the bigger question may be: have we created an unattainable image of perfection that is widely accepted as the standard for beauty?

According to Newsweek, the retouching of photos has become so mainstream it’s not only expected but also demanded from Hollywood publicists. Magazine editors believe their readers are not being deceived because they know the images have been altered. But do the readers really know this?

According to clinical nutritionist Alexis Beck, most girls do not know the extent to which the photos are retouched and, if they do, it does not really resonate inside their head. According to multiple Photoshop experts I spoke with, almost every photo you see in the mainstream media has been retouched in one way or another.

My photographer for the shoot was Tim Lynch. He has been in the business since digital photography was first introduced. We asked him to manipulate my face and body so that I would look is I was as perfect as a Hollywood celebrity on the cover of a magazine. After a quick bikini photo shoot, he began editing my picture.

The initial shock for me came when Tim took away my “age.” He softened the lines on my face and erased all signs of sun damage. I was shocked by how many changes he made. If anything, this photo shoot was a wake-up call to wear sunscreen.

After he made my skin look as smooth as a baby’s bottom, we moved onto the “liquefy” tool which pushes pixels closer together. So basically, you can make someone look emaciated if you really wanted. We just wanted to take off a few pounds so we slimmed my waist, thighs and arms out a bit. We also elongated my neck, whitened my teeth, brightened and sharpened my eyes and gave my body a “natural” tan.

I was surprised we didn’t liquefy more to be honest, but then the image would not look like me at all. Who is to say that advertisers care about preservation of their subjects though?

Tim made the comment that, “If I worked out 5 days a week and ate what I was supposed to eat, I would look like this.” He obviously doesn’t know that I am a fitness video producer who often stars as the model in the videos, which makes me work out about 5 days a week, every week. I admit some days I do nothing, while other days I eat pizza and dessert. Most of my workouts are over in an hour, but they are vigorous.

But here’s what sticks with me: should I believe I could look like this with a little more self-discipline? A new study on eating disorders suggests that prevention begins with getting girls to realize the images they see are not real. The excessive exposure to retouched images has had a profound effect on peoples’ perceptions. They believe what they see is healthy and attainable when in actuality it is neither. No longer is average acceptable. If you are not a size 2, you are subjected to being called fat or worse. Don’t believe me? Just look at some of the YouTube comments on our videos.

There was a recent article published in The New Yorker on a man named Pascal Dangin who "tweaked a hundred and forty-four images" in the March issue of Vogue magazine – 107 were for advertisements. According to a study performed by Dove, by the time a girl turns12 she will have been exposed to 77,000 advertisements – most of which will have been retouched to convey perfection. By the third grade, 42% of girls will want to be thinner, and by age 10 they will fear becoming fat.

In recent months, readers have become enraged at Photoshopped images, and as a result a backlash against digital retouching has emerged. Have photo editors indeed gone too far? Are we risking our own health in letting the idea of perfection reach unattainable levels? Young women are risking their lives to look like the girls they see in magazines. Could a disclaimer on retouched advertisements and magazine spreads restore reality?

Magazines aren’t the only ones guilty of selecting near-perfect images; you and I do it too. We naturally edit what photos people see of us by deleting, detagging, or cropping and then posting the best to represent our social profiles. As soon as Tim finished my photo, I went home and put it up as my Facebook picture. How quickly I went from critic to hypocrite? As individuals, we want to be seen in the best light possible. Putting a photo where a chin may appear double in size or a bad angle is likely to be deleted. With today’s technological advancements, retouching photographs is here to stay.

People are exposed to so many retouched images, perfection has become a reality we are exposed to every day. The advertisers use perfection so that we feel inferior without their products. Photographers use it to make their images more appealing, and boy do their models like the way they look afterwards. We edit our own photos so you won’t know we had a bad hair day.

All this results in one thing – societal pressure to look perfect because we all deserve nothing less than perfect. So in turn, who is to blame -- the photo editors or myself?

Jun 3, 2008

Wii Fit Fitness Video Review

Exergames (n): A video game that also provides exercise. Ex: Dance Dance revolution and the Nintendo Wii Fit.

In the same week Nintendo released the highly anticipated Wii Fit, news reports claim that childhood obesity may have finally leveled off at 32 percent. But still, a country with a third of its youth overweight is not a healthy one. Some people think that exergaming may be the solution.

With games like Dance, Dance revolution and the new Wii Fit, fitness industry experts like former head of Nautilus Jim Teatum, think combining today’s technology with physical activity is going to get kids moving because it’s what kids WANT to do not HAVE to do!

The Wii Fit has sold over 2 million units since its debut in Japan last December. But how can this video game affect our waistlines, health and self-esteem?

There have been reports of the Wii calling young girls “fat” and consequently hurting their feelings. Well, you know what? Someone has to do it! It’s a measure of your BMI which clearly does not measure muscle mass. But regardless, it’s kind of like an easy way of telling overweight players without sounding like the bad guy. Its purpose is to promote exercise and health. Give it a break! It doesn’t have built-in sensitivity radar!

Gamesradar.com had a yoga instructor try out the yoga game and she described the game as a weird concept mainly because you need to stay on this board where in yoga you stand on a mat. She concluded she wouldn’t do it again. And then she told Nintendo to “suck it!”

A marketing director at NuMetrex, which makes clothing with built-in heart rate monitors, tried out the new video game Nintendo Wii Fit, and reported an elevated heart rate of 90-110 for the “step” and “hula cardio” workouts, while reaching 130 during the running program. The woman is a marathon runner and while running the Philly Marathon her heart rate measured between 145-155.

The result: For an avid runner, the Wii Fit provides a workout that is equivalent to a walking warm-up or a low-to-moderate exertion run on a flat surface. If you are overweight the Wii will provide some cardiovascular benefits. The Wii is a good starting point if you are sedimentary. It will get you off your butt. But it doesn’t really compare to good old-fashioned exercise.

Teatum also thinks that children are obese because of the choices they make in their diet and physical activities.

There’s a reason children are prosecuted in juvenile courts -- they are not legally held to the same responsibility as adults when it comes to making decisions.

Whether or not we’ve hit a plateau, we need to lower the number of overweight children and until we do that we are still going to have a problem… especially when these children grow up to burden the already overburdened healthcare system.

To watch my review of the Wii Fit check out the video on the DietHealth You Tube channel or CLICK HERE .