The Image-Building Triangle: How Rejuvenology™ Helps Competitors Look, Feel, and Perform Better, Longer

Rejuvenology™ is defined (in part) as the proactive art and science of appearance, health, and performance enhancement, through both prevention and rehabilitation. This new discipline helps individuals look, feel, and perform better, longer. It gives them the comprehensive competitive package needed to win in any arena. Whether in sports, business, or interpersonal endeavors, success generally comes to the individual who understands human nature and comes to grips with why people do what they do and think as they think in this world that emphasizes beauty and brains as well as brawn. Rejuvenology’s™ essential image-building triangle includes physical, psychological, and aesthetic elements. The model can be used to enhance one’s own image or the image of a student or client. Image-builders come from a variety of professions to help others become the best they can be. In so doing, the image-builder achieves success for him- or herself.

Rejuvenology™ comprises both preventive and rehabilitative branches. The preventive branch provides lifestyle coaching designed to prevent disease, injury, and career-altering conditions and to detect conditions early on, when corrective measures are more apt to succeed. The rehabilitative branch offers ways for those who once enjoyed looking young and vibrant and performing at a high level to recapture those qualities. The links between appearance enhancement, health enhancement, and psychological well-being are secure. Individuals who do what is required to improve their physical appearance (e.g., weight management, sensible nutrition, regular exercise) tend to find better health and more opportunities. Those who develop a positive mental attitude for successful living tend to live happier, more productive lives.

A Reason Underlying Beauty

The recorded history of the civilized world affirms that people considered beautiful or handsome have always enjoyed favor. Some would argue that those blessed before birth with genes for aesthetically pleasing physical features should not use them to their advantage. Evidence gleaned from nature, however, suggests the opposite. The significance and interplay of aspects psychological, physical, and aesthetic–the image-building triangle–did not originate in humankind. In the animal and plant kingdoms, beauty and color play a major role in reproduction. Pollination is ensured when insects are attracted to and flit between brightly colored flowers, while the pairing off of animals involves brilliant color coupled with strutting and posturing to highlight the most aesthetically pleasing male, who is chosen by the female to provide genes for the next generation. Humans’ attraction to other humans who possess beauty and skill is deeply rooted in creative evolution and for good reason.

It is often said that there is a reason for all things. One definition of reason is “the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking…in rational ways.” It is believed that, among all the animals, humans alone possess the ability to reason. Whether humans instinctively mimicked the other animals, or reasoned out, that aesthetics and athletics combine to create a combination of graces and charms making some more appealing than others, the fact remains that advantages have always been granted to people whose appearance and performance are extraordinary. There seems to be a reason for this fact. The reason is that those who invest time and energy to enhance physical appearance help shape not only their bodies but the destiny of humankind. Appearance plays a role in whom one marries and who becomes the other parent of one’s children. As with the other animals, the human species’ wisest and most talented members tend to lead the pack. The next wave of world leaders is being determined daily, as young people are attracted to each other.

A Reason Underlying Athleticism

Preservation of a species depends not only on its gene pool, but also on its ability to protect and provide for its young. The earliest athletes were hunters and warriors. Archeologists are now able to reconstruct the forms of primitive humankind, concluding that speed, strength, and endurance were factors in the survival of the fittest. As far back as the Cro-Magnons (who survived, while slower and stockier Neanderthals did not), the best hunters and warriors adorned themselves with ornaments and markings thought to enhance their appearance.

In clans of old, upward mobility seemed to hinge on the very psychophysical factors in effect today. We have learned that tribal leaders of the races that came to populate the world embraced the practice of hero-making, holding the strong, the swift, the graceful, and the wise in high regard.

In the Orient, martial arts combined athletics and art in systems that instructed, entertained, and provided defense, giving rise to a variety of disciplines endorsed by emperors and rulers throughout the Far East. The Samurai warriors of Japan are perhaps the best known examples of martial artists. Known for their strength and dexterity, their skills and mental discipline, the Samurai became icons of Eastern psycho-physico-aesthetic triangulation.

Ancient Greece, cradle of the Olympics, popularized image-building. Perhaps more than any other civilization, the Greeks appreciated the form and the function of the human body, to the point of encouraging exhibitionism. Statues idealizing the bodies of their “gods” were commissioned for public display. Athletic events bore as an underlying theme the appreciation of how mind and body can be forged into a finely tuned biomechanical machine.

The Greeks also recognized the value of creative thought. Image-building extended into academic and artistic arenas. Modern government, medicine, and philosophy are deeply rooted in Hellenic culture. The names of its great thinkers are found in modern libraries around the world and still influence the way we think.

Following the Greeks, the Caesars of Rome adorned their soldiers with both armor and plumes as statements of superiority and attention to aesthetic detail. Sadly, in Roman culture, sporting events became a matter of massacre. Crowds gathered to watch the gladiators do combat and to witness men and women of less favored cultures fight for and often lose their lives.

As time marched on, the kings and queens of Europe practiced their own form of image-building, creating an order of elite warrior-performers. The knights donned shining armor and colorful banners. People gathered on festive occasions to revel in knight-on-knight battles couched as entertainment. Public tournaments also served to display a domain’s military skill and might. King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table provide a strong example of how knighthood may be compared to today’s iconic military and athletic pride-based organizations.

Perhaps civilization’s image builders reasoned that presenting the adorned performer as a model others should emulate offered a means of securing popularity for themselves. Perhaps, on the other hand, people instinctively idolized the fittest, most ideally proportioned among them. It is not clear, either, whether nobility led–or followed. Commoners and royalty alike recognized that winners acquired status, and that more physically attractive winners acquired even more status. In any case, more often than not the nobility became closely identified with psychophysical standards that were embraced by the masses . . . and by individuals who embodied those standards.

Expanding the Order of Heroes

In the 21st century, a space-age society still idolizes warriors, athletes, performers, achievers. They are dressed in brightly colored uniforms and adorned with banners and medals of bronze, silver, and gold, and in many cases they are draped with wealth and esteem previously undreamed of. But one thing has changed: Today’s idols are not necessarily the biggest and strongest of the species. Our games have come to include contests of speed, agility, and mental adroitness, as well as strength and daring, opening doors to greater numbers of participants and providing opportunity for upward mobility to people from all walks of life. And opportunity also comes, in turn, to contemporary image-builders, upon whom many aspiring achievers rely.

Technological advances allow competitors to become stronger, faster, more durable, and more aesthetically competitive as well. Advances in bioscience make it possible to change the body more effectively and efficiently than ever before. Competitors need no longer play only with the biological hand they were dealt. Through better nutrition, scientific conditioning and training, superior coaching, and plastic surgery too, it is possible to develop–improve–the body and mind. However, many aspiring competitors on their own would be unwilling or unable to take up Rejuvenology’s™ image-building triangle (the physical, psychological, and aesthetic). They need and desire leadership.

The role of competitive desire in the art and science of self-enhancement must not be underestimated. The fire of desire that burns inside a competitor is what makes psychology a crucial part of Rejuvenology.™ Anyone who encounters a young athlete practices a basic form of sports psychology, for from the first tossed ball or crossed finish line, we critique performance. That critique constitutes reinforcement; its positive or negative nature deeply affects the child’s psyche and self-esteem. Only in the past few decades, however, has the sports psychology specialty become necessary to improve gifted competitors’ performance under pressure. A growing number of image-builders are seeking certification in sports psychology from institutions of higher learning to meet the needs of their students or clients.

Now scientifically proven and recognized as essential to the image-building triangle, sports psychology’s principles need to be promulgated throughout our society. How best to accomplish this is undetermined, but the newly organized American College of Rejuvenology™ is dedicated to finding an answer. Solutions to political, social, and economic issues are also being puzzled out.

Beliefs About the Beautiful and the Handsome

All contests have rules and rule-makers. Contestants who want to win must understand the standards, the expectations, of those who will judge them. Today’s image-builders and their students and clients must first recognize contemporary standards of beauty and handsomeness, then be willing to attain the standards by enhancing and adorning the body, appealing aesthetically to those whom they must impress. Research has established that the human who will stand out from a group possessed of similar skill is the good-looking human. As with any animal, other things being equal, the man or woman who is most aesthetically pleasing is likely to be chosen.

In one Olympic ice skating contest, the pair that appeared the obvious winner did not, in fact, take the gold medal; one judge had not appreciated the music the skaters used in their performance. As long as performance is judged by humans, judgments will involve a combination of factors appealing to the aesthetic senses. Aesthetic appeal–beauty or handsomeness–may best be defined as the combination of perceived graces and charms that pleases  the eye of the beholder.

This means that the standard–again, beauty or handsomeness–is a subjective one. It is not necessarily based on perfection, for humans cannot achieve perfection. Leonardo da Vinci laid out criteria for ideal proportions, to which must be added considerations of what is tasteful among one’s circle: hairstyling, makeup, clothing, accessories, and also posture, gait, manners, speech, and mien. The variety of tangible and intangible factors that enter into a standard of beauty or handsomeness means virtually anyone can secure a level of attractiveness, developing a package that will be rewarded in many arenas.

Noted psychologist Dr. Perry Buffington conducted research that showed better looking students to receive generally higher grades. Good looks also, he concluded, increase chances of success in personal relationships and in the hiring process. Furthermore, better looking psychiatric patients are admitted to hospitals relatively less often and their stays there are shorter.

The author has for a quarter century conducted an international facial plastic surgery practice and has observed firsthand that a patient’s self-perception is rather clearly suggested in his or her outward appearance. The patient who feels attractive dresses and acts the part–as does the patient who feels unattractive. Many times in the author’s practice, small alterations in a patient’s physical appearance have resulted in a tremendous psychological lift, often generating the self-confidence the patient needs to present inner beauty that was there all the while.

How successful an appearance-altering operation is also seems influenced by the psychological support the patient receives during recovery. While adjusting to a new appearance, patients need positive input from those whose opinions matter. Psychology is a major part of the practice of plastic surgery, body sculpting, cosmetic dentistry, and aesthetology.

Plastic surgeons rely on ideal proportions Leonardo da Vinci described for the human body in the 16th centtury to help them recognize whether features of the body are too big or too small. Most experts agree that beauty, whatever the art form that expresses it, is harmony. Something out of proportion draws too much attention to itself in a negative way and is thus disharmonious. And yet in his medical practice, the author has repeatedly interviewed prospective patients who already meet every physical standard of beauty or handsomeness but obsessively desire to have their features changed, often to extremes. Michael Jackson is a contemporary example of pushing appearance-altering surgery to extremes.

Many such individuals suffer from psychological imbalances including body dysmorphic syndrome as well as the eating disorders anorexia or obesity. Distorted or unrealistic self-images may respond to gentle management coupled with medical treatment and psychiatric counseling. It is not unheard of for an overbearing, misinformed image-builder to have contributed to psychological pathology that comes to be dangerously manifested in physical form. It is becoming increasingly apparent that professionals from all the disciplines involved in image-building need to pool their expertise to develop protocols helping people young and old to feel better, look better, and perform better, longer.

Image-Builders’ Role

Today’s image-builder occupies a complex role, and a working knowledge of each component of the Rejuvenology™ image-building triangle is a must. Without it, an image-builder may do harm to the sometimes fragile treasure seeking guidance from him or her. No one can be expected to know everything about everything. However, knowing when to ask help from a colleague or other qualified professional is a characteristic that leaders possess and great leaders freely exercise.

The sport industry provides models for prudent consultation, delegation, and cooperation. One of the author’s mentors, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, said his secret for continuing success was to hire coaches who knew more about some evolving element of the game of football than he did or who could teach things he could no longer demonstrate in his later years. Coach Bryant viewed his role as our team’s leader to center on instilling in us, his players, a belief that we were special. Because we worked harder at practice than our competitors and we took our work ethic and belief system into each game, we deserved, our coach convinced us, to win. Similarly, individuals who take care of their bodies and minds deserve and find better health. These are the individuals who tend to look, feel, and perform better, longer. Perhaps without knowing they have done so, they have embraced the principles of the Rejuvenology™ image-building triangle.

Self-image is a learned (and intangible) part of every human’s makeup. We look upon ourselves as either extraordinary, ordinary, or inferior. The point in life at which the realization takes place that physical attractiveness is an asset is yet unclear; nor do we know when it is, exactly, that a child becomes convinced he or she has or is capable of developing some special talent. Parents seem to be the initial image-builders, yet in many cases it is not until someone outside the home takes an interest in a child that he or she truly begins to believe in that potential. Nurturing that crucial belief later may fall to those who became products of their own such belief: the performers of yesterday, the image-builders of today.

Selling Beauty and Handsomeness

Around the world, beautiful or handsome faces and bodies sell. Advertisers and fashion houses hire good-looking people to represent their products and so does the sport industry. Few knowledgeable football enthusiasts would deny that Joe Namath was one of the greatest quarterbacks of the game. Coupled with his talent, Namath had looks, charisma, and wit. His value to a football franchise was expected to extend beyond the white lines of the playing field–and it did.

At the end of the bidding war, Namath became the highest paid football player in history, which fact alone was a publicity event. Many are unaware, however, that the St. Louis Cardinals football franchise (now the Phoenix Cardinals) actually offered Namath more money than the New York Jets did. What the Jets’ owner offered him that counted for more was to make his name a household word; the image of “Broadway Joe” was launched.

At the same time in history, beautiful, scantily clad cheerleaders appeared on the sidelines of every professional game. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders developed a following of their own, traveling the world as America’s ambassadors and frequently appearing on television and in movies. Paula Abdul was a Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader, using that position to open doors beyond cheerleading, most recently as an American Idol–maker. Many college cheerleaders have been former gymnasts. Some, like the University of Alabama’s Sela Ward and Princeton University’s Lisa Najeeb Halaby, used their stints as cheerleaders–including the education acquired at the institutions they represented–to improve their stations in life. Halaby, known now as Queen Noor of Jordan, presents a modern example of how royalty continue to embrace athletic performers.

Hundreds of charismatic athletes and performers have parlayed athletic and artistic ability, and good looks, into lifestyles that are the envy of the world. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Britney Spears, for example, demonstrate how psychophysical aesthetics is a tangible entity that can be embraced to good ends.

Beyond the Arena

An attractive face and body, a gold medal or a bronze star, a championship ring or a certain green jacket gain the attention of the world’s star-makers. Such favors, however, should be viewed only as a springboard. Speaking intelligently, exercising good manners, and transitioning competitive edge (learned perhaps in the athletic arena) into systems that win in the business world is what truly separates enduring superstars from flashes in the pan. And again, throughout recorded history, the fittest, wisest, most attractive competitors are granted favors and a better chance to prosper.

With opportunity comes responsibility. The image-builder has a duty to prepare students or clients physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually for challenges they are sure to face. Coaches and teachers are charged with teaching the mechanics of competitive sports and, furthermore, heightening awareness of the need to package oneself to best attract opportunity. The ideal competitive package includes tools for competing in life long after athletics, for example by preventing disease and keeping the body high-performing. Early intervention seems to be crucial. Perhaps school officials and parent-teacher organizations should give more emphasis to physical and health education as part of preparation for healthy, productive life.

Obesity is the fastest growing preventable “disease” in the United States, and children are the fastest growing segment of the emerging obese population. Obesity contributes significantly to life-threatening conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and depression, any of which can shorten one’s years of productive life.

Let’s reflect on what is happening to the next generation of competitors.

Obesity is a major problem in the United States, yet in much of the world, malnutrition and starvation are leading causes of death. The need to address negative lifestyles that cause Americans to spend more resources on the treatment of disease rather than its prevention is a major thrust of the American College of Rejuvenology and the professionals who comprise its membership, representing many disciplines.

The interrelations of the Rejuvenology™ image-building triangle should be taught not only to athletes, but to every student, because there are numerous examples of individuals perceived by others to lack talent who yet worked hard and exceeded the expectations of everyone–except themselves. The need for such teaching is greater today than ever before. If the principles of Rejuvenology™ were embraced by the powers that be, the fattest generation could become the fittest generation.

The Mind-Body Connection

The Special Olympics organization approaches imaging-building the right way: It provides opportunities to compete, to be encouraged, and to win contests large and small. Public recognition seems to drive people from all walks of life to try harder, to defy the odds. Because of a vision shared by leaders from across this land, thousands of young people have experienced that recognition, in the simple yet stimulating form of applause.

Little League-type sport enthusiasts, however, have unfortunately, in many instances, done more harm than good by pressuring children to perform rather than to play. Too many young people are driven from athletics by overbearing parents and coaches who do not understand the damage that can be done to minds and bodies not yet those of the adult. Furthermore, some children’s beauty contests (especially those too closely modeled after adult pageants) force little girls to grow up faster than they may be prepared to. For decades, pediatricians have reminded medical colleagues that children are not little adults, neither mentally nor physically, but the message has yet to reach many children’s competitions.

The complex and sometimes delicate mind-body connection is being acknowledged by increasing numbers of experts from a variety of backgrounds. The delicate or fragile quality of this connection is not based on age, explaining why psychology provides the base of the Rejuvenology™ image-building triangle. Successful leaders incorporate motivational psychology in their modus operandi. The greatest image-builders know at what age and in what circumstances to apply pressure, when to motivate with a hug or pat on the back, and when to do and say nothing.

Coach Bryant as well as Coach Vince Lombardi and Gen. George Patton inspired men of ordinary ability to believe in themselves and perform like men of extraordinary ability. The three prepared their men mentally and physically, making victory the expected outcome. These great leaders’ understanding and use of psychology became the critical factor in their becoming icons in their fields. All were image-builders of the highest order.

It is well documented that mind–for example, the firm expectation of achieving one’s goals–and body work in concert. Some are born bigger, better looking, more talented; this is an indisputable fact. But it is also a matter of record that the human mind and body are malleable and capable of unlooked-for achievement. That humans are a product of thought, as well as the source of thought, is what is often held to differentiate the species from other animals. Thus those people who are capable of influencing thought possess great power and responsibility.

Recent data suggest that the human body is programmed to live more than 100 years, but that people’s daily decisions subtract years from potential lifespan. Scientists have learned that through ideal nutritional practices and fitness training life-threatening conditions can be slowed and in some cases reversed. How can science convince people to be accountable for themselves, doing the things proven to be in their best interests? Image-builders must persuade students and clients that life is a marathon, not a sprint. For example, some things athletes do to their bodies in the name of performance enhancement, specifically steroid and other drug abuse, may seem beneficial in the short term, but it is a fact that such abuse diminishes both length and quality of life after the athlete has finished with competition (and sometimes sooner than that).

At an increasing rate, health professionals and image-builders in many disciplines are collaborating in institutions focusing on longevity, health, and appearance. They are urging people to practice prevention and early detection of harmful conditions that impinge on quality and quantity of life. On 13-16 March 2003 many of the world’s experts in appearance and health enhancement will gather in Gulf Shores, Alabama, for the organizational meeting of the American College of Rejuvenology (www.rejuvenology.com). They will share and explore ways to help people look, feel, and perform better, longer. Beyond the purely medical objectives, a major focus of the college is image-building for men and women of all ages and from all walks of life.

Evidence explored at the meeting will show that, individually and collectively, human beings are the framers of destiny. In our society, we can choose from a variety of lifestyles. Given what we know of nutrition and fitness, for example, we choose to be fit or fat. So widely published throughout society are the standards of beauty that we can choose to imitate attractiveness’s icons or, alternatively, to be identified with the counterculture. With the increasing availability of technology, we can choose to be in the stream of traffic speeding down the information super-highway or we can choose to sit on the sidelines watching mental athletes play the intelligence game. Excuses for not being in the mainstream are waning. With access to competitive sports and information now available to men and women in all socioeconomic groups, virtually everyone can choose to be a participant or a bystander.

The question confronting the world in the 21st century is this: Who will assume the role of the conscience of competition? Who will introduce young people to the pathways paved with opportunity? Who will be a coach, mentor, source of encouragement, and broad shoulder on which developing champions can cry?

Who will tell young people who aspire to greatness to cut and comb their hair, choose well-fitting clothes, talk like a champion, turn from things that poison mind and body, and provide a positive model of conduct on and off the field? Who will tell them, furthermore, that the classroom is more important, and lasts longer, than anything that can be accomplished on the field or the court? Who will convince today’s young people that to meet with life’s best opportunities to succeed they must appear and behave in a manner considered mainstream, the manner that secures the confidence of (and appeals to the senses of) the people who control the purse strings of the civilized world?

Such questions are a challenge to image-builders in all disciplines and professions. The good ones will equip those who turn to them for guidance with the tangible and intangible tools of success in a complex, demanding society. The great ones will teach such students how to think, how to recognize their potential, how to develop talents and gifts that are theirs, and how to use assets acquired by hard (and smart) work. The wisest of all image-builders will heed their own advice.

The Expectation Factor

Defining expectations–those belonging to a society, an individual competitor, or both–should be the first step in strategic planning. Devising innovative packaging of competitors’ physical and mental assets to help them meet and exceed defined expectations is a vital second step. To accomplish these tasks may require interdisciplinary cooperation of the various professionals who work in the areas of Rejuvenology’s™ image-building triangle, cooperation being facilitated by contemporary trends.

As athletics shades into the world of entertainment, sports becomes big business. Those who deal with aspiring competitors young and old will be called on to expand their own understanding of what the future holds for their students or clients. In the case of student-athletes, educational leaders must join with parents so that both can become better prepared to counsel young people about competing well, in every domain of society at every stage of life.

Balance provides the glue binding the angles of the equilateral image-building triangle. The legs of the triangle are the physical, psychological, and aesthetic aspects of human development. Recognizing the component parts, understanding how and when to introduce them in a success-oriented master plan for health, well-being, and longevity, will define the next generation of image-builders, who are the role models young people so desperately need–and want.

What better way is there to ensure upward mobility of our species than to begin a quiet revolution based on physical, mental, social, and spiritual excellence? It will be a revolution made one case of prudent image-building at a time. We must believe that each man and woman is born with a responsibility to be the best he or she can be in every phase of life and to pass to the next generation the useful things he or she comes to know. This is precisely how cave-dwelling early humankind evolved to inhabit the skyscrapers of the modern era. It is also how aspiring achievers will stress–and test–their bodies to ensure the highest level of performance and endurance.

With some of the promising results coming out of the Human Genome Project, it may soon be possible to provide each individual with a genetic map scientists can consult to learn which disease-producing genes will be factors in the individual’s health. It may furthermore become possible to understand the individual’s mental capacity at a very early age. Early intervention is likely one day to allow physicians to head off some conditions altogether and delay the onset of others. With respect to genetic intelligence markers, information may prove a double-edged sword. Experts continue to debate whether scientists tamper too freely with life on earth.

Thomas Edison wrote, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton endorsed the proactive approach to disease prevention and health enhancement framed by the American College of Rejuvenology. The rest is up to us. The problems have been identified, and at the McCollough Institute for Appearance and Health in Gulf Shores, Alabama, programs are being developed in conjunction with the college to help a generation of competitors become their best physically, mentally, and aesthetically, whatever their field of endeavor.

Conclusion

Leadership might be defined most simply, perhaps, as an ability to leave the world a better place than one found it. Image-builders are leaders who have both an opportunity and responsibility to do their best to help people help themselves. What image-builders can do is nowhere more apparent than in sports, where achievement built on hard work is measured in the arena, where the smallest of advantages often separates winners from losers. The challenge for professional image-builders is to prepare competitors (physically, mentally, aesthetically, and spiritually) to seize a moment in time to become more than was thought possible, and not just for that moment but for a lifetime.

Opportunity knocks for those willing to lead by example, for role models and image builders, the giants from whose shoulders future generations will see more clearly into a future of their own choosing. Join us March 13-16 for the organizational and scientific program of the American College of Rejuvenology and become a part of the solution.

Author Note

E. Gaylon McCollough, American College of Rejuvenology, McCollough Institute for Appearance and Health Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Inquiries concerning this article should be directed to E. Gaylon McCollough, M.D., FACS, President, American College of Rejuvenology, McCollough Institute for Appearance and Health, P.O. Box 4249, Gulf Shores, AL 36547; e-mail drmccollough@gulftel.com , www.rejuvenology.com.

 

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