health

Man up: The photo of Larry Emdur you really shouldn't send to your husband.

It’s a celebrity before and after with a crucial difference – and it’s kind of an obvious one.

I almost did something really shitty this morning.

I almost sent this photo to my partner:

larry emdur

You see, I got carried away on a tide of enthusiasm for the ridiculous hotness of LARRY. Yes, friends, Larry Emdur. A man who, until several months ago, had the bumbling, unthreatening appeal of a, well, a game-show host, but has suddenly emerged from some kind of gym-weights-skinless-chicken-filled crysalis to be, you know, HOT.

And 50.

Woah, I thought, my man has a big birthday coming up. Maybe he’d like to be inspired by what you can still achieve if you commit yourself. Maybe he’d like to know it’s never too late to shake off the bad habits, to return to your youthful glory, to be the best you can be…

And as my finger hovered over my phone, I suddenly remembered myself.

Because what AM I? A monster?

Imagine, for a moment, what would happen if my partner had sent me this picture, for, you know, my own inspiration.

FIFI-BOX-before-after
Fifi Box, before and after Atkins.
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It’s hard to overstate how offended and hurt I would be if the man who’s supposed to love me the most – my safe space, if you like – was dropping celebrity-endorsed hints about how I could look so much better if I just applied myself a little.

That’s not what loving partners of either sex do, right? But it gave me pause for thought about the mass celebration of the unveiling of Larry 2.0.

I love Larry Emdur. The truth is, I kind of loved him before he became a serious contender for cover-man of Men’s Health. He buzzes and sparkles on air like a man who loves life and loves his job.

He didn’t need to get buff to convince me of that.

But get buff he did. He set himself a goal of trying to be Men’s Health Man of the Year cover star. And if he pulls it off (he’ll find out tonight), he’ll be their oldest ever “cover boy”.

Here’s his “transformation”:

I am deeply impressed by anyone who decides to overhaul their health, at any age. It’s incredibly difficult to pull yourself out of comfortable habits and decide to make positive changes. Many of us never do. The age that Larry did that, 49, is a critical one for men, who often carry too much weight around their middle at that stage of life, a signifier of impending problems like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

“I wanted to be 50 and fit, not 50 and f***ed,” says Larry. “My motivation was right, I wanted to do it for my family… It was bloody hard work.”

I bet it was, Larry, I’ve seen the pictures, and they make me want to reach for a coconut water (maybe with a splash of vodka).

3pm Larry
Larry, we know which one you chose.
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But here’s the thing. In the same way I should feel no less shitty about sending out a pictorial “motivational” message about weight loss and fitness to my male partner than I would sending it to my female best friend, we should also be cautious about spreading our body insecurities around with quite such enthusiasm.

Larry was  NOT ‘fucked’ before. He looked like a pretty fit, “normal” man of his age, and much slimmer than the average Australian man.  I would hate for “ordinary” men to look at that image and feel less-than, in the same way women have for ever (and ever, and ever) been made to feel less-than for not having the unattainable body that celebrity culture demands of them.

And that’s a sentiment that’s shared by Louise Adams, Clinical Psychologist, founder of Treat Yourself Well and member of the Association for Size Diversity & Health.

“Let’s not get men in the same hole that women have been in for years,”  Adams says. “Eating disorders among young Australians are soaring, in kids they have increased 1000 per cent. Rates in men doubled in the 10 years to 2005.

“We shouldn’t be promoting the message that being healthy is about the way you look. You can’t see health,” she tells Mamamia.

Maybe not, but come on, there’s no doubt that a waxed, tanned, hot Larry looks a whole lot healthier than Larry 1.0, right? Well possibly, but maybe not for long, says Adams.

"Wanker" Larry

“The problem with these extreme dietary changes is that in 95 per cent of cases people put it all back on. It’s not just difficult to maintain, it’s impossible. Statistically, you have a better chance of surviving lung cancer than keeping it off.

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“We have to let go of healthy changes being all about appearance. Because if we make changes just to look different then when the weight comes back, people drop the healthy behaviours.”

The message we need to be promoting, to our man friends, to our woman friends and to ourselves is that a sexy before and after shot is not the same thing as treating our bodies well, whatever our size.

Women have been terrible at this for eons, playing an endless comparison game with others and ourselves from different eras of our lives.

Men, we once thought, were more likely to be immune to body pressure, to be able to suck in a gut, wink a the mirror and say, “Yup, still got it.”

But not any more. And that could be a great thing, if it forces us all to get real about our health. But if it only passes on a tangle of neuroses and insecurities that hold us all back from happiness?

mens-health-cover
This is the kind of thing that goes on on the cover of Men’s Health.

Why would we ever want there to be more people hating their bodies in their world, rather than fewer?

So tonight, Larry, as we cheer or commiserate with you as you find out whether you’ve nailed your goal, I’ll be toasting your love of life, your commitment to your health, your drive to change something about you that was making you unhappy.

But I won’t be toasting your six-pack.

Which, you know, is just as well.

Are you inspired by Larry’s before and after pics? Would you have shared them?

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