HEALTHY INTEREST: Katrina Umback ready to take on her new role as Head of Healthy Mildura.

By MADISON EASTMOND

THE incessant focus on appearance, weight and body image has become one of Australia’s ugliest and most pressing issues.  

A body ideal dictated by mass media and retailers, virtually impossible for people to achieve without excessive dieting, excessive exercise, or both, is starting to wreak real and prolonged damage on the psyches of many.

For the sixth year in a row, Mission Australia’s National Survey has uncovered that body image is a top three concern for Australians nation-wide.

The potential of contracting body dissatisfaction, let alone something sinister, seems more believable after a simple log-on to social media, where often a daily feed of an advertised ‘skinny tea’ or diet suppressant, directly under articles on the new vinegar, cotton ball or calorie-counting diet, are readily available. 

At every turn we’re exposed to morning news ad breaks selling the new ‘Fat Buster’, magazines hauling any celebrity who dare wear a bikini to the front pages, or loud headlines letting every passerby know that a size 0 is the new size 6. 

The need for urgent mass and national action, change and attention is obvious. 

This is why fitness instructor and fierce advocate of body positivity, Katrina Umback, has made it her mission to target this societal crisis.

Mrs Umback, who has taken on the new role of Head of Healthy Mildura – an initiative of Aligned Leisure – said that it was her hope to use her new position  to actively improve the well-being of the Sunraysia community.

She said that she would also like to incorporate a focus on body positivity and promote eduction around maintaining a healthy and balanced life. 

Mrs Umback’s 17-year group fitness career has been witness, first-hand, to the dangers of extreme dieting and exercise, and knowing the negative results that more often than not seem to follow. 

“Countless numbers of people participate in 12-week transformations, restrictive eating, demanding exercise regimes to alter appearance and weight, only to then regain the weight, then major biological and metal health issues as well,” Mrs Umback said. 

“This vicious cycle creates an unhealthy and toxic trend that many struggle to break out of, and consequently many start to put their worth in their body, rather than in who they are as a person.

“However, the positive impact and long-term effects of implementing and becoming more aware of body positivity enables people to be consistent in their behaviours around eating and exercising which in turn reduces the likelihood of physical or mental illness and injury.”

Mrs Umback believes that encouraging positive body image, along with education of food and movement is the way to creating long-lasting relationships with health and fitness.

By regularly attending national seminars and courses, Mrs Umback remains informed about concepts and strategies, and as such, has built “a number of contacts and a fantastic support network outside of Mildura.”

Along with her work as Head of Healthy Mildura, Mrs Umback intends to collaborate with local community agencies, associations and schools to help spread this message, while also planning to bring some of the experts she’s been in touch with to Sunraysia to hold seminars around these concepts to other fitness professionals, health care providers and the general population in the community.