There’s so much pressure from the media these days for us to try and attain the perfect body there’s no wonder that people have looked at extreme measures such as cosmetic surgery in order too enhance their physical appearance.

It doesn’t always go to plan when under the knife, with some celebrities such as Jocelyn Wildenstein and Mickey Rourke sporting the ‘tight stocking on the head look’.

Cosmetic surgery in the UK is increasing every year. In 2009 36,482 procedures were conducted that’s an increase of 6.71% from 2008. 3,623 of these procedures were on men. That’s increase of 21% on 2008 figures.

The top 5 procedures were:
1. Breast augmentation
2. Rhinoplasty (nose job)
3. Liposuction
4. Eyelid surgery
5. Tummy tuck

With such trends being displayed here, are we in danger of taking short-cuts with our health and ignoring the alternate and traditional methods of weight management like diet and fitness.

For example, I heard a story lately of a trainer training a client for a period of time and achieving good results from the weekly physical group fitness classes. Then she took a break to go on holiday for over a month, on her return she had decided to go under the knife and do something about her problem areas such as hips, thighs, back of the arms and tummy.

The result of the surgery was great to begin with, with improvements in her skin firmness and tone. However the recovery process was taking its toll. After surgery she was unable to participate in exercise for several months as every time she ran, her back would hurt. Her arms were so sore that any resistance exercises gave her pain. Even low intensity exercisises like jumping jacks would cause pain due to the bouncing.

All this pain ate in to her motivation to train, she did less with her trainer and it resulted in her gaining back all the weight which the surgery had removed. It took a further six months to get back into a routine of exercise intense enough to see results.

It sounded very frustrating, also depressing and very costly I’d imagine.

So what are the alternatives?

A healthy diet and regular exercise.

The bad news is that you can’t spot reduce fat from areas of the body. Your genes will determine where you store fat but you can reduce total body fat and increase the fat free mass of the body. There are a many fitness exercises that can target specific areas. I’ll give just two of the simplest yet effective examples.

The press-up is a great exercise as it is a multi-joint movement using the elbow joint and the shoulder joint, it also uses more than one muscle (mainly the pectorals and the triceps) so you get more bang for your buck and it can be done anywhere anytime. It will tone the chest and the back of the arms. It won’t do much too enhance breast/chest size however the structures in the area will benefit from enhanced strength and tone.

Another great exercise to enhance the look of the chest which is so underrated is the prone cobra. This is done whilst lying on your belly and you adopt what looks like a free falling position and whilst lifting your chest up off the ground you squeeze the shoulder blades together.

After a minute of holding this you will instantly feel taller and more upright and who doesn’t want to feel taller. At 5’9 (and ¾) I’m considered a giant back home in Wales but globally I’m a small fish in a big pond. The resultant stretch from the prone cobra on your chest can make a man’s pecs look wider and a woman’s breasts look bigger. With the added bonus of working the back muscles in order to prevent lower back problems.

However, the major bonus from regular exercise is increased muscle mass, body tone, increased energy levels and self-esteem. And the increased muscle mass means that your metabolic rate has also increased meaning that your body will burn more energy to maintain the muscle that you have worked so hard to build.

For you ladies, that last statement may feel a little worrying as I can imagine you saying ‘oh but I don’t want to look like a muscle bound freak!’ That’s not going to be a problem as females do not have enough of the male hormone testosterone in their bodies to build such bulging muscles that would rival Arnie.

I’ve been training people for over 12 years and have seen people transform their bodies through training regularly. If you’ve just started a new fitness regime or you’ve been going at it for a while then keep up the good work and remember Rome wasn’t built in a day!