‘ I wanted a truncheon in my gasps ‘: the rise of the penis extension

More and more men are opting for surgical penis expansion. Is it a confidence boost, or a con?

It has been more than a year since the operation, but Alistair is still furious about the results.” I paid PS8, 000 and they mutilated me ,” he says.” It was butchery. My partner said it looked like a war meander. My erection is basically ruined .”

In July 2017, the 55 -year-old decorator, from London, became one of a growing number of British men to have a surgical penis enlargement. Talk of improvement was once the preserve of promotional spam mail for bizarre-looking pills and pumps; now, it is serious clinical business. British clinics, which have taken consultancy rooms in Harley Street and in UK cities including Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds, report record numbers of patients calling on their services. One practise, the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery, has gone from performing a handful of penis procedures annually when it opened in 1990 to more than 250 in 2017. Between 2013 and 2017, members of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery carried out 45,604 penis enhancements worldwide. Previous numbers are unknown; the procedure was considered such a minority concern that it wasn’t included in surveys. This increase in demand seemingly caters to a growing anxiety about penis size, but it is by no means a risk-free procedure. For Alistair, dreams of a larger penis were overtaken by infections, lumps and an erection that no longer rises above a 45 -degree angle. And he is not alone. In recent years, the General Medical Council has recorded stories of” wonky penis” and erectile dysfunction following surgery. In Stockholm, last summer, a 30 -year-old man died after suffering a cardiac arrest following an operation to enlarge his penis.

***

At his Harley Street clinic, Dr Roberto Viel is explaining how a typical expansion works. First, surgeons sever the organ’s suspensory ligament, causing it to hang an inch or two lower, giving the impression of extra duration. They then extract fat from the patient’s belly and inject it into the penis rod, increasing circumference by around two inches. Erect, it’s worth noting, it remains roughly the same size, suggesting the motives for many humen are not inevitably to enhance either their- or a partner’s- sex experience.

The procedure, which can cost more than PS5, 000, lasts a little over an hour, but causes enough residual inconvenience that doctors recommend patients take a week off run. The penis remains bandaged for 10 days. Sex is off the cards for a month. Erection suppressants are prescribed to avoid stitches being rent open.

” Operations are very safe ,” says Viel, who founded the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery with his twin brother Maurizio.” Perhaps 95% of our patients are happy. Where they are not, it is often to do with expectations. Some men want 10 inches when nature dedicated them four or five. I have to say, gently,’ This is not possible. I am not a miracle worker .'”

Photograph
Photograph: Ilka& Franz for the Guardian

William O’Connor, a 38 -year-old mechanic from Northampton, is one of his satisfied customers- and it’s easy to understand why. Think of a large can of aerosol deodorant and you have, roughly enough, his new dimensions.” There was one woman who took one look at it and just ran,’ That thing is coming nowhere near me ,'” he says.” But mostly it goes down very well. I’ve seen a lot of eyes light up .”

Though liberally endowed by nature and confident enough in his body to have appeared in some adult films in his 20 s, O’Connor decided to enhance his girth in 2013.” It was just something I imagination ,” he says with a shrug.” Some men have hair transplants or belly tucks. I wanted a truncheon in my gasps. My whole life I’ve enjoyed impressing girls; this was just an extension of that. You could call it a gentlemanly thing to do .”

O’Connor says he had no concerns beforehand (” My main worry was having the anaesthetic- I’m scared of needles “) and no sadness afterwards. The ache was manageable and there were no complications. He views the procedure as akin to working out.” I’m not obsessed by my body- I have too many other things going on in my life ,” O’Connor says.” But I’m proud of it and I like that it’s in good shape- every part of it .”

The surgery should have no impact on fertility; O’Connor has since married and fathered two children( he also has four from a previous relationship ).” I gratify her after the op, but she was a family friend and knew I’d had it done. I’ve never asked if it was a plus point .”

***

Amr Raheem is an andrology specialist( meaning his focus is on medicine relating to men) at University College London Hospitals, as well as a surgeon at International Andrology, a private clinic in the capital. Over the past 15 years, he has carried out more than 250 enlargements.” There is no typical patient ,” Raheem says.” All professions, all ethnicities, married, single, homosexual, straight-out, rich, poor. It’s across the board. And all ages. I’ve worked on humen in their 60 s- I don’t know if they go out and use it afterwards. Early 20 s, I won’t do. These are still boys. They must get to know it before they change it .”

Patients come in all shapes and sizes:” I’ve had men who are already large enough. I had one say he wanted to be like a milk bottle. Impossible .”

If there is one unifying factor, it is a lack of confidence about what nature has provided. The average length of a British penis is, according to a 2016 King’ s College London study, 5.16 in erect and 3.67 in flaccid. Merely 0. 14% of men have what one University of California study defined as a “micropenis”- that is, less than 2.5 inches when erect. Nonetheless, study after study shows displeasure remains widespread among men.

” These are the men who come to us ,” Raheem says.” They are not inevitably small, but they want to feel more confident. In front of women, yes, but in front of other humen, too, down the gym, that sort of thing .”

Many of his patients, he adds, have previously” avoided sexuality or situations where they would be exposed, out of embarrassment. So this attains them happier .”

Not all operations leave happy clients- infections and scarring are both potential side-effects (” This is the same as an operation of any kind ,” Viel says ). Some humen report a decline in angle after the suspensory ligament is cut, but according to David Ralph, a prof of urology at UCL,” By and big, patients don’t complain about that. The operation doesn’t alteration the erect duration at all- this is only for men who have anxiety about how they look in the changing rooms. The median increase in size is 1.3 cm, less than the diameter of a 1p coin. In my clinics, I present patients one of these and ask if they still think it is worth it. Less than 5% decide to, and of those who do, the satisfaction rate is just 20% .”

Occasionally, the cut ligament leaves genitals lopsided when flaccid, and pointing off to the left or right when erect, as Francis Tilley, director of London clinic Androfill, explains.” Ligaments are there for a reason ,” he says.” If you start cutting at them, the stability of the penis will be reduced: the erecting will be lower and less straight .” Tilley’s practise offers the operation, but its website clearly identifies it as high risk.

One Stockport-based surgeon, Ravi Kant Agarwal, was struck off( though later allowed to practise again) after botching two procedures. One of his patients, the General Medical Council hear, was left with a penis” bent like a boomerang “. Agarwal was criticised for failing to explain potential complications and misleading patients about the possible outcome, as well as for not having anaesthetic backup during the operations.

Alistair decided to have the operation after 40 years of anxiety.” I played Sunday football and dreaded the changing rooms ,” he says.” It’s not so much the length as how thin and scrawny it was .”

Six
Photograph: Ilka& Franz for the Guardian

He married, had children and learned to live with his unease. Then, four years ago, after separating from his wife, he asked a new partner how he measured up to her ex-husband.” It was a stupid question ,” Alistair admits.” It’s pathetic that I cared at my age- but I did. To start with she told me it was fine, but I maintained pushing and, eventually, she merely told me: his was bigger .”

Alistair took out a PS5, 000 loan to add to PS3, 000 of savings, and paid to go under the knife.( Surgery is difficult to obtain on the NHS, though it can be offered for psychological reasons, or to correct a true micropenis .)” It was the worst thing I’ve ever done ,” he says.” The ache afterwards … I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand. It was beyond anything they told me to expect. The wound got infected, and when they gave me antibiotics, it kept seeping pus. The scarring has barely faded even now .” He says the fat injection became lumpy, while his erection no longer stands straight.” It just doesn’t look right. It’s deformed .”

Not long after the operation, he and his partner- who had repeatedly insisted he should not have it done- split up. As we speak, he is preparing for one of his first dates since their separation.” I’m already remain concerned about what she might think if we get intimate ,” he admits.

***

Thomas Modecai, 37, a teacher from Crewe, has fought with the size of his penis for most of his life.” When I was 14, I shot up to 6ft but my penis stayed the same ,” he says.” I felt like a human with a child’s penis. And it’s affected everything: my relationships, my confidence, even my desire to have children. I fretted they might have the same issue .”

The only person who has ever seen him without clothes is his wife.” But even with her- we’ve been married 14 years- I was still anxious .”

After being dismissed twice by physicians (” One said,’ Don’t worry about your penis, but you’re overweight ‘”), Modecai contacted Andrology International and, in August last year, paid PS6, 800 for a duration and girth boost.

” My wife didn’t like the idea ,” he says.” But this had been bothering me for 20 years. I’d already tried pills and potions- useless stuff you insure advertised in spam- and I was depleted. I needed it fixing .”

Since the surgery, he has felt happier and more confident.” I’m not exactly skipping round the house naked but, you are aware, maybe once I lose that weight ,” he says.” And we’re now thinking about children .”

I ask for his pre-op dimensions. He doesn’t want his exact measurings reported, but the issue is surprising: while flaccid, he was smaller than most men; erect, his penis grew significantly. Modecai, it seems, experienced two decades of stress despite the fact that, fully extended, he was bigger than the UK average. This apparent contradiction does not surprise Angela Gregory, a psychosexual therapist based at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.” Penis expansions can be about a lot of things ,” she says.” But the amount of anxiety a man experiences rarely, in my experience, correlates with his actual size .”

The sheer symbolism of what’s in a man’s gasps may be a factor. As Harrison Pope and Katharine Phillips write in their volume on male body obsessions, The Adonis Complex, genitals have been equated with” virility, procreative effectivenes, and power” throughout history. This has been further compounded by an apparent rise in general masculine vanity. Figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons indicate the total number of male procedures doubled between 2005 and 2015, with breast reduction, rhinoplasty and neck lifts especially popular. For those in need of rejuvenation, surgery is cheaper and more easily available than ever.

Eric
Eric Bell, 68, is preparing for his third enlargement:’ It constructs me happy knowing I have something eye-opening down there .’ Photograph: Richard Baybutt

Furthermore, Gregory highlightings two other recent developments: the proliferation of pornography and the rise of TV shows where brutal physical objectification has become, for the first time, an equal-opportunities phenomenon.

” Young men generally become preoccupied with the size of their genitals when they compare with others ,” she says.” Historically, this was limited to changing rooms or the odd top-shelf magazine. But now there is this almost routine exposure to porn via smartphones. And that is creating a generation of men whose expectations of what they should look like are entirely unattainable .”

Added to that, she says, is the popularity of indicates such as Love Island where objectification comes as standard. In the summer of 2017, one male contestant was described as having” a penis like a baseball bat “; it was, unequivocally, a compliment. None of this objectification is new, of course: it’s just new for men.” But that doesn’t lessened the impact ,” Gregory says.” For the individual who is going through the trauma of fearing his penis is too small, this is still devastating .”

All this might be leading to more than simple image anxiety; some have pointed to a new mental-health issue they term penile dysmorphic ailment.” It is a minority of men- and we don’t know how many- but it certainly exists and it’s as damaging as any other body dysmorphia ,” says Professor David Veale, of King’s College London, an authority on health nervousness.” These humen might seek out surgery, and for a few months they will be happy with the results. But then the same anxieties reappear. So, they seek out further surgery. It becomes a circle. But you cannot keep making your penis bigger. This necessitates therapy .”

Largely, he says, these cases remain undisclosed.” Those who suffer don’t inevitably realise themselves, and rarely admit it. It is an invisible illness .”

So how can we be sure it really exists?” Because the number of men attempting surgery, or the growth of this strange industry selling pills and other so-called enlargement redress, these numbers do not map up with the numbers of men who actually have a significantly smaller penis than average ,” Veale says.” So, these men are worrying about- and seeking answers for- a number of problems they do not have .”

Veale’s theory chimes with the experience of a retired marketings administrator I fulfill in a drab Sheffield consultancy room. A lifelong bachelor, Eric Bell, 68, is charming and well-dressed, if, with a beard tinted blue, a touch eccentric. He is also preparing for his third penis expansion- an operation that, judging from the sizeable member already between his legs, is unnecessary.” I’d just like it a bit fatter here ,” he explains, circling thumb and middle finger around the top of his shaft.” I’m single, but it stimulates me happy knowing I have something eye-opening down there .” We expend five minutes discussing the merits of this before he asks his own question:” Can I put it away now ?”

Bell says he had his first enlargement in 2015, a year after suffering the trauma of his brother drowning in York’s River Foss.” I suffered severe depression ,” he says.

Are the two things linked? “Possibly,” he says.” I don’t know. I don’t think about it .”

Bell is a patient at Moorgate Aesthetics, which has head offices in Doncaster. When I ask managing director David Mills if this may be one client who doesn’t need any more girth, he waves away the concern. Bell, he says, knows his own intellect, and has passed a psychological evaluation. The operation goes ahead.

This evaluation is something all clinics I speak to insist on. It involves a patient meeting with a surgeon or psychologist to have their general mental wellbeing assessed. If there is any hint of underlying concerns, problems or mental health issues, the operation does not go ahead. But, given that such a refusal would entail clinics losing PS5, 000 a pop, one does wonder how rigorous these assessments are. Is the entire industry merely profiting off insecurity bordering on dysmorphia?

Dr Roberto Viel believes not.” I tell my patients we can give you a bigger penis, but we cannot stimulate you happy ,” he says.” You must be happy first, in your heart and head. If not, this operation “re not for” you. All it would entail is you are still unhappy – you just have a slightly bigger penis .”

Professor Ralph at UCL believes that some clinics are feeding patients’ unrealistic expectations.” Initially, they don’t see doctors, they consider sales people. It’s a hard sell:’ We can get you an extra inch or two .’ I’ve been practising in the NHS for 30 years: if it was that easy to increase the length of a normal penis, I’d be in the Mediterranean on my cruise liner now .”

Ralph thinks that” penile stretchers”, marketed under the name Andropenis, can be just as effective; but few humen are prepared to build such commitments of wearing a traction device for six hours a day for six months. He also points out that, for men with an unhealthy BMI, weight loss can be enough to build the penis appear bigger.

In a last brief conversation with Alistair, he asks if I would ever consider running under the knife. I tell him I’ve seen such a bewildering array of shapes and sizes over the past few weeks, I don’t even know what normal is any more. If it does the job nature intended, I say, that should be enough. For many men wanting an enlargement, it’s probably not so much about what’s in their pants as what, somewhere along the way, has got into their intellects- and that can’t be fixed by a fat injection and a severed ligament.

Alistair thinks about this and appears to agree:” Once it’s in your head, it’s difficult to let it go- even after you’ve had surgery .”

* Alistair’s name has been changed.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘ I wanted a truncheon in my pants ‘: the rise of the penis extension

More and more men are opting for surgical penis enlargement. Is it a confidence boost, or a con?

It has been more than a year since the operation, but Alistair is still furious about the results.” I paid PS8, 000 and they mutilated me ,” he says.” It was butchery. My partner said it looked like a war meander. My erection is basically ruined .”

In July 2017, the 55 -year-old decorator, from London, became one of a growing number of British humen to have a surgical penis expansion. Talk of improvement was once the conserve of promotional spam mail for bizarre-looking pills and pumps; now, it is serious clinical business. British clinics, which have taken consultancy rooms in Harley Street and in UK cities including Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds, report record numbers of patients calling on their services. One practice, the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery, has gone from performing a handful of penis procedures annually when it opened in 1990 to more than 250 in 2017. Between 2013 and 2017, members of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery carried out 45,604 penis enhancements worldwide. Previous numbers are unknown; the procedure was considered such a minority concern that it wasn’t included in surveys. This increase in demand seemingly caters to a growing nervousnes about penis size, but it is by no means a risk-free procedure. For Alistair, dreams of a larger penis were overtaken by infections, lumps and an erection that no longer rises above a 45 -degree angle. And he is not alone. In recent years, the General Medical Council has recorded tales of” wonky penis” and erectile dysfunction following surgery. In Stockholm, last summertime, a 30 -year-old man died after agony a cardiac arrest following an operation to enlarge his penis.

***

At his Harley Street clinic, Dr Roberto Viel is explaining how a typical enlargement works. First, surgeons sever the organ’s suspensory ligament, causing it to hang an inch or two lower, giving the impression of extra length. They then extract fat from the patient’s stomach and inject it into the penis rod, increasing girth by around two inches. Erect, it’s worth noting, it remains roughly the same size, suggesting the motives for many men are not necessarily to enhance either their- or a partner’s- sex experience.

The procedure, which can cost more than PS5, 000, lasts a little over an hour, but causes enough residual discomfort that physicians recommend patients take a week off work. The penis remains bandaged for 10 days. Sex is off the cards for a month. Erection suppressants are prescribed to avoid sews being rent open.

” Operations are very safe ,” says Viel, who founded the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery with his twin brother Maurizio.” Perhaps 95% of our patients are happy. Where they are not, it is often to do with expectations. Some humen want 10 inches when nature dedicated them four or five. I have to say, gently,’ This is not possible. I am not a miracle worker .'”

Photograph
Photograph: Ilka& Franz for the Guardian

William O’Connor, a 38 -year-old mechanic from Northampton, is one of his satisfied clients- and it’s easy to understand why. Think of a large can of aerosol deodorant and you have, roughly enough, his new dimensions.” There was one woman who took one look at it and only went,’ That thing is coming nowhere near me ,'” he says.” But mostly it goes down very well. I’ve seen a lot of eyes light up .”

Though liberally endowed by nature and confident enough in his body to have appeared in some adult movies in his 20 s, O’Connor decided to enhance his girth in 2013.” It was just something I fancied ,” he says with a shrug.” Some humen have hair transplants or belly tucks. I wanted a truncheon in my gasps. My whole life I’ve enjoyed impressing females; this was just an extension of that. You could call it a gentlemanly thing to do .”

O’Connor says he had no concerns beforehand (” My main worry was having the anaesthetic- I’m scared of needles “) and no regrets afterwards. The ache was manageable and there were no complications. He views the procedure as akin to working out.” I’m not obsessed by my body- I have too many other things going on in my life ,” O’Connor says.” But I’m proud of it and I like that it’s in good shape- every part of it .”

The surgery should have no impact on fertility; O’Connor has since married and parent two children( he also has four from a previous relationship ).” I satisfy her after the op, but she was a family friend and knew I’d had it done. I’ve never asked if it was a plus phase .”

***

Amr Raheem is an andrology specialist( meaning his focus is on medicine relating to humen) at University College London Hospitals, as well as a surgeon at International Andrology, a private clinic in the capital city. Over the past 15 years, he has carried out more than 250 expansions.” There is no typical patient ,” Raheem says.” All professions, all ethnicities, married, single, homosexual, straight-out, rich, poor. It’s across the board. And all ages. I’ve worked on humen in their 60 s- I don’t know if they go out and use it afterwards. Early 20 s, I won’t do. These are still boys. They must get to know it before they change it .”

Patients come in all shapes and sizes:” I’ve had men who are already large enough. I had one say he wanted to be like a milk bottle. Impossible .”

If there is one unifying factor, it is a lack of confidence about what nature has provided. The average duration of a British penis is, according to a 2016 King’ s College London study, 5.16 in erect and 3.67 in flaccid. Merely 0. 14% of men have what one University of California study defined as a “micropenis”- that is, less than 2.5 inches when erect. Nonetheless, study after study indicates frustration remains widespread among men.

” These are the men who come to us ,” Raheem says.” They are not necessarily small, but they want to feel more confident. In front of women, yes, but in front of other humen, too, down the gym, that sort of thing .”

Many of his patients, he adds, has already been” avoided sex or situations where they would be uncovered, out of embarrassment. So this builds them happier .”

Not all operations leave happy clients- infections and scarring are both potential side-effects (” This is the same as an operation of any kind ,” Viel says ). Some men report a decline in angle after the suspensory ligament is cut, but according to David Ralph, a professor of urology at UCL,” By and big, patients don’t complain about that. The operation doesn’t change the erect duration at all- this is only for men who have anxiety about how they look in the changing rooms. The median increase in size is 1.3 cm, less than the diameter of a 1p coin. In my clinics, I demonstrate patients one of these and ask if they still think it is worth it. Less than 5% decide to, and of those who do, the gratification rate is just 20% .”

Occasionally, the cut ligament leaves genitals lopsided when flaccid, and pointing off to the left or right when erect, as Francis Tilley, director of London clinic Androfill, explains.” Ligaments are there for a reason ,” he says.” If you start cutting at them, the stability of the penis will be reduced: the erection will be lower and less straight .” Tilley’s practice offers the operation, but its website clearly identifies it as high risk.

One Stockport-based surgeon, Ravi Kant Agarwal, was hit off( though later allowed to practise again) after botching two procedures. One of his patients, the General Medical Council heard, was left with a penis” bent like a boomerang “. Agarwal was criticised for failing to explain potential complications and misleading patients about the possible outcome, as well as for not having anaesthetic backup during the operations.

Alistair decided to have the operation after 40 years of anxiety.” I played Sunday football and dreaded the changing rooms ,” he says.” It’s not so much the length as how thin and scrawny it was .”

Six
Photograph: Ilka& Franz for the Guardian

He married, had children and learned to live with his malaise. Then, four years ago, after separating from his wife, he asked a new partner how he measured up to her ex-husband.” It was a stupid question ,” Alistair admits.” It’s pathetic that I cared at my age- but I did. To start with she told me it was fine, but I maintained pushing and, eventually, she only told me: his was bigger .”

Alistair took out a PS5, 000 loan to add to PS3, 000 of savings, and paid to go under the knife.( Surgery is difficult to obtain on the NHS, though it can be offered for psychological reasons, or to correct a true micropenis .)” It was the worst thing I’ve ever done ,” he says.” The pain afterwards … I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand. It was beyond anything they told me to expect. The wound get infected, and when they gave me antibiotics, it maintained oozing pus. The scarring has barely faded even now .” He says the fat injection became lumpy, while his erection no longer stands straight.” It simply doesn’t look right. It’s deformed .”

Not long after the operation, he and his partner- who had repeatedly insisted he should not have it done- split up. As we speak, he is preparing for one of his first dates since their separation.” I’m already remain concerned about what she might think if we get intimate ,” he admits.

***

Thomas Modecai, 37, a teacher from Crewe, has fought with the size of his penis for most of his life.” When I was 14, I shot up to 6ft but my penis stayed the same ,” he says.” I felt like a human with a child’s penis. And it’s affected everything: my relationships, my confidence, even my desire to have children. I fretted they might have the same issue .”

The only person who has ever seen him without clothes is his wife.” But even with her- we’ve been married 14 years- I was still anxious .”

After being dismissed twice by physicians (” One said,’ Don’t worry about your penis, but you’re overweight ‘”), Modecai contacted Andrology International and, in August last year, paid PS6, 800 for a length and girth boost.

” My wife didn’t like the idea ,” he says.” But this had been bothering me for 20 years. I’d already tried pills and potions- useless stuff you consider advertised in spam- and I was exhausted. I needed it fixing .”

Since the surgery, he has felt happier and more confident.” I’m not exactly skipping round the house naked but, you know, maybe once I lose that weight ,” he says.” And we’re now thinking about children .”

I ask for his pre-op dimensions. He doesn’t want his exact measurings reported, but they are surprising: while flaccid, he was smaller than most men; erect, his penis grew significantly. Modecai, it seems, experienced two decades of stress despite the fact that, fully widened, he was bigger than the UK average. This apparent contradiction does not surprise Angela Gregory, a psychosexual therapist based at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.” Penis expansions can be about a lot of things ,” she says.” But the amount of anxiety a man experiences rarely, in my experience, correlates with his actual size .”

The sheer symbolism of what’s in a man’s gasps may be a factor. As Harrison Pope and Katharine Phillips write in their book on male body preoccupations, The Adonis Complex, genitals ought to have equated with” masculinity, procreative effectivenes, and power” throughout history. This has been further compounded by an apparent rise in general masculine vanity. Figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons present the total number of male procedures doubled between 2005 and 2015, with breast reduction, rhinoplasty and neck lifts especially popular. For those in need of rejuvenation, surgery is cheaper and more easily available than ever.

Eric
Eric Bell, 68, is preparing for his third expansion:’ It induces me happy knowing I have something eye-opening down there .’ Photograph: Richard Baybutt

Furthermore, Gregory highlightings two other recent developments: the proliferation of pornography and the rise of TV shows where brutal physical objectification has become, for the first time, an equal-opportunities phenomenon.

” Young humen generally become preoccupied with the size of their genitals when they compare with others ,” she says.” Historically, this was limited to changing rooms or the odd top-shelf magazine. But now there is this almost routine exposure to porn via smartphones. And that is creating a generation of men whose expectations of what they should look like are entirely unattainable .”

Added to that, she says, is the popularity of reveals such as Love Island where objectification comes as standard. In the summer of 2017, one male contestant was described as having” a penis like a baseball bat “; it was, unequivocally, a compliment. None of this objectification is new, of course: it’s just new for men.” But that doesn’t mitigated the impact ,” Gregory says.” For the individual who is going through the trauma of dreading his penis is too small, this is still devastating .”

All this might be leading to more than simple image anxiety; some have pointed to a new mental-health issue they words penile dysmorphic disorder.” It is a minority of men- and we don’t know how many- but it certainly exists and it’s as damaging as any other body dysmorphia ,” says Professor David Veale, of King’s College London, an authority on health anxieties.” These men might seek out surgery, and for a few months they will be happy with the results. But then the same anxieties reappear. So, they seek out further surgery. It becomes a circle. But you cannot keep making your penis bigger. This requires therapy .”

Largely, he says, these cases remain undisclosed.” Those who suffer don’t inevitably realise themselves, and rarely acknowledge it. It is an invisible illness .”

So how can we be sure it really exists?” Because the number of men seeking surgery, or the growth of this strange industry selling pills and other so-called enlargement redress, these numbers do not map up with the numbers of men who actually have a significantly smaller penis than average ,” Veale says.” So, these men are worrying about- and trying answers for- a problem they do not have .”

Veale’s theory chimes with the experience of a retired marketings director I satisfy in a drab Sheffield consultancy room. A lifelong bachelor, Eric Bell, 68, is charming and well-dressed, if, with a beard tinted blue, a touch eccentric. He is also in preparations for his third penis expansion- an operation that, judging from the sizeable member already between his legs, is unnecessary.” I’d just like it a bit fatter here ,” he explains, circling thumb and middle thumb around the top of his shaft.” I’m single, but it induces me happy knowing I have something eye-opening down there .” We expend five minutes discussing the merits of this before he asks his own question:” Can I put it away now ?”

Bell says he had his first enlargement in 2015, a year after agony the trauma of his brother drowning in York’s River Foss.” I suffered severe depression ,” he says.

Are the two things linked? “Possibly,” he says.” I don’t know. I don’t think about it .”

Bell is a patient at Moorgate Aesthetics, which has head offices in Doncaster. When I ask managing director David Mills if this may be one client who doesn’t need any more girth, he waves away the concern. Bell, he says, knows his own mind, and has passed a psychological evaluation. The operation goes ahead.

This evaluation is something all clinics I speak to insist on. It involves a patient meeting with a surgeon or psychologist to have their general mental wellbeing assessed. If there is any hint of underlying concerns, problems or mental health issues, the operation does not go ahead. But, given that such a repudiation would entail clinics losing PS5, 000 a pop, one does wonder how rigorous these assessments are. Is the entire industry merely profiting off insecurity bordering on dysmorphia?

Dr Roberto Viel supposes not.” I tell my patients we can give you a bigger penis, but we cannot build you happy ,” he says.” You must be happy first, in your heart and head. If not, this operation “re not for” you. All it would mean is you are still unhappy – you just have a slightly bigger penis .”

Professor Ralph at UCL believes that some clinics are feeding patients’ unrealistic expectations.” Initially, they don’t see doctors, they watch marketings people. It’s a hard sell:’ We can get you an extra inch or two .’ I’ve been practising in the NHS for 30 years: if it was that easy to increase the length of a normal penis, I’d be in the Mediterranean on my cruise liner now .”

Ralph thinks that” penile stretchers”, marketed under the name Andropenis, can be just as effective; but few humen are prepared to stimulate the commitment of wearing a traction device for six hours a day for six months. He also points out that, for men with an unhealthy BMI, weight loss can be enough to induce the penis appear bigger.

In a last brief conversation with Alistair, he asks if I would ever consider running under the knife. I tell him I’ve seen such a bewildering array of shapes and sizings over the past few weeks, I don’t even know what normal is any more. If it does the job nature intended, I say, that should be enough. For many humen wanting an expansion, it’s probably not so much about what’s in their pants as what, somewhere along the way, has got into their minds- and that can’t be fixed by a fat injection and a severed ligament.

Alistair thinks about this and appears to agree:” Once it’s in your head, it’s difficult to let it go- even after you’ve had surgery .”

* Alistair’s name has been changed.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Body of work: why Billie Eilish is right to stand her ground against dishonor

Billie Eilish has done everything right in her career so far, but thats not enough for a celebrity industry fixated on sex

Billie Eilish has given the music industry everything it could possibly want. An authentic new voice that appeals to teens and their parents. A debut album that has sold more than 2m transcripts in the US alone. A decisive stylistic evolution from the preceding decade’s dominant pop mode. A clean sweep of the four key categories at the Grammys. A copper-bottomed streaming success model. A James Bond theme that rejuvenates a tired franchise and widens her commercial and creative clout.

Until she offers up her prime commodity as a young female pop starring, it will never be enough.

While 18 -year-old Eilish is a beguilingly physical musician, she has never shown her body in service of her art. She opts loose garb because she feels comfy in it, and has denounced the use of her image to dishonor female pop starrings who dress differently. Not that it’s stopped anyone. Denying spectators the traditional metric by which female superstars are judged- sexiness, slimness; the body as weathervane that reveals how tormented or contented they must be when they lurch between the extremes of those states- has created an obsession with her body and what it must stand for.

Eilish’s world tour- which opened last night in Miami- underscores these contradictions:” While I feel your gazes, your disapproval or your sighs of relief, if I lived by them, I’d never be able to move ,” she says in a video demonstrate between sungs, as she removes her top and sinks into a pond of black water.” Would you like me to be smaller? Weaker? Softer? Taller? Would you like me to be quiet? Do my shoulders elicit you? Does my chest? Am I my stomach? My hips ?”

As if to prove her phase, the Sun reported on Eilish” stripping to her bra” with zero mention of her speech or its message, and titled their narrative” Thrilly Eilish “. Again: Eilish is 18 years old.

alexa 78 (@ ILOMIL0S)

empowering pic.twitter.com/ IBOl9LF 0rU

March 10, 2020

It’s hard to think of any previous generation of young female pop starring getting away with making such a public admonishment at the height of their stardom. Motown’s girls were taught comportment by an in-house employee. The anorexia that killed Karen Carpenter was framed as an effective diet. To have her art taken seriously, Kate Bush had to endure the objectification of male journalists who typed with one hand. The Spice Girls had to wait until after the band’s demise to discuss their respective eating disorders, lest they disrupt the image of supportive female friendship. Britney, Christina and Beyonce’s millennium-era abs were testament to their drilled work ethic; Katy Perry and Ariana Grande’s burgeoning images were dependent on marketing their sexuality, while Taylor Swift’s taut middle stoked her image as an American ideal. To recognise Amy Winehouse’s bulimia would have complicated a convenient media narrative of debauchery.

In that context, Eilish’s freedom to speak out represents a kind of progress. It’s symptomatic of the control that she has retained over her career, and its impact on her fans is potentially profound. But being anointed a liberating force in the body-image stakes is its own kind of prison, one that preserves physicality as the ultimate measure of a female star’s worth- and the standard by which they can be undermined. The music industry and the media like to pat themselves on the back for stimulating superstars of Eilish and Lizzo, who often joins her in headlines about body positivity, though if these women one day wish to change their physical presentation, they will be accused of betraying fans and squandering their authenticity.

It is a minority of female musicians who are permitted this limiting form of freedom in the first place. Beyond Eilish and Lizzo’s presence at this year’s Brit awards, the photos from the red carpet looked like scenes from 2002: female musicians and influencers bearing aggressively toned abs, low-slung sparkly pants, attires with gaping cutaways to highlight those impacts. The media may praise Taylor Swift for speaking out about the ailment feeing that she experienced until a few years ago, but it still perpetuates the standards that mean record labels will subject young, female pop starrings to the penalizing diets and exercise routines that Swift has described from her past. Female musicians who gain weight rarely return to the prime of their careers. Dua Lipa’s new video features an exercise routine. The narrative around Adele‘s fourth album, due later this year, is already centred on her recent weight loss.

Ever since the pianist Clara Schumann proved herself a concert virtuoso, female artists have had their creative worth tied to their physicality. The standards are so penalizing and contradictory that it is hard not to suspect that they are purposefully engineered that way, to guarantee obsolescence as they succumb to human fallibility, thus clearing the decks to wave in a new phalanx of young bodies to ogle. As long as the industries that depend on its exploitation continue to exist, and new generations of onlookers are trained in envy and contempt for those bodies, this won’t change.

As the industry races to replicate Eilish’s success and the media starvations for more young girls to compel positions, you’d hope they would heed how this therapy has evidently affected her and ensure that no young female superstar is ever again subject to these vicious criteria. As if.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Am I happier because I’m thinner, or thinner because I’m happier?

Looking in the mirror, I feel happy with my new body shape. But thats not what body positivity taught me to do

The first time I felt body euphoria was in an Old Navy dressing room. The floor was sticky with inexplicable customer gunk, a toddler was sobbing in the next stall and I was wearing jeans five sizes smaller than usual.

I gaped at my reflection in awe. It’s not just that the jeans fit; I could also assure my collarbones, which had been hidden under layers of fat and tissue for so long that I forgot I had them. My jaw line was more pronounced, and my belly didn’t jut out the style I recollected it to.

I had lost more than 100 pounds, and I could see the difference right there in the mirror.

With euphoria came guilt. It upset me that I liked my new reflection so much, because I didn’t know why I was happy with it. For years, I had subscribed to the notion that defining women’s worth by their weight was a feminist cardinal sin. Like countless others, I had found self-love and adoption in the arms of the body positivity movement.

It offered me a welcome respite from the stress of constantly looking at myself with a critical eye, as well as a counterattack to the once predominating idea that dishonor gets bodies in shape( it doesn’t ). So why was I so happy at the sight of my new, thinner shape?

I lost more than 100 pounds in two parts over 18 months, during two big stages of my life. The first occurs when I ran from a depressed, overworked college student to a emphasized, fully utilized adult. I replaced meals with coffee and eat once daily- usually the easiest thing I could pop into the microwave after a 12 -hour day. On top of my 9-5 task, my four-hour daily commute constructed finding any time for myself nearly impossible.

My body responded to my new environment by shedding 50 pounds, but even then I knew my weight loss wasn’t healthy. My stress had reached a peak, and all I could do was shrink in the face of it. I had no time for physical activity, and if I was lucky enough to get a day off, I was too depleted to move anyways. The stuff I devoured could scarcely be called food; I feed quick meals rife with saturated fats and sodium that just made me more sluggish. Research backs this up: stressful tasks lead to poor eating, junk food makes us depressed and failing mental health becomes a roadblock to improving health.

I bristled whenever someone congratulated me on my weight loss. To accept outsiders’ compliments on my weight loss was to betray the body-positive ethos I had adopted.

And then, just as easily as I had adopted it, I threw that life away. Less than a year into my first full-time job, I discontinue to travel Europe for five months. Suddenly, I had a limitless resource of something I hadn’t had my entire working life: time. I could expend all day walking, climbing or hiking in a different country. I could stroll through local marketplaces, relishing the hues and odors of the displayed fruits and vegetables, to pick foods that induced me happy and gave me the energy I needed to keep exploring. Regular physical activity, a Mediterranean-style diet and liberty to do as I pleased altered me, and I lost another 60 lb.

When I came back home to the US, my family and friends were shocked by my dramatic transformation and my weight loss was only part of it. Yes, I was smaller, but I also seemed happier. I was more confident and said stuff like:” You know what would be so fun right now? A bike ride .” I even got a cool haircut. My new body was a reflection of the new life I was living.

One of the biggest alters my friends noticed is how experimental and colorful my manner sense had now become, are comparable to when all I wore was an ensemble of leggings and a T-shirt. Being more confident assists, but buying cool clothes is just easier the less fat you are. Albeit I’m still a solid sizing 14, but the realm of possibilities for my wardrobe has vastly expanded from the ironically slim size-2 0-and-up rack I used to shop from. I can set more care into my appearance and feel more secure in the way I present myself to the world because I actually have options.

There’s just one thing, though. My new commitment to health has also bordered on obsession at times. I don’t want to fall back on my old habits, so I pore over the ingredients in everything I eat. I work out regularly, sometimes to the point I can barely move my muscles the next day. And when I can’t bring myself to push my limits again- only one extra define of crunches or lunges- I feel like I’m failing myself.

Maybe getting healthier has made me happier, but being so preoccupied with health can be my downfall. Orthorexia, ailment eating influenced by an preoccupation with “healthy” foods, is one symptom of the larger problem diet culture was born from. Being perfect is a never-ending game of moving goalposts, and we’re compelled to spend the rest of our lives chasing after it.

I’m still plus sizing, but I have become a more” socially acceptable” fat girl worth catering to. For once, I feel like my body has the right to exist because there’s less room for me to take up. Is that anything to be happy about? All I know is that I own a pair of jeans that fit, and I’ll stop to admire my reflection when I wear them.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Weight loss linked to healthy eating not genetics, study finds

Participants who ate the most vegetables and consumed the fewest processed foods, sugary drinks and unhealthy fats shed the most kilograms

The amount and quality of food and not a person’s genetics will lead to weight loss, a US study has found.

It has been suggested that variations in genetic makeup make it easier for some people to lose weight than others on certain diets.

To test this theory researchers at Stanford University conducted a randomised control trial involving 609 overweight adults, who all underwent genetic and insulin testing before being randomly assigned to either a low-fat or low-carb diet for 12 months.

Gene analysis identified differences are connected with how the body processes fats or carbohydrates. But weight loss averaged around 5kg to 6kg at follow-up regardless of genes, insulin levels or diet type.

What seemed to make a difference was healthy eating, researchers said.

Participants who ate the most vegetables and devoured the fewest processed foods, sugary drinks and unhealthy fats lost the most weight.

Prof Lennert Veerman from the School of Medicine at Griffith University in Queensland said the study presented there was probably no such thing as a diet right for a particular genetic make-up.

” We feed to fill our belly and, if that’s with veggies, we tend to lose weight, whereas if it’s with chocolate or French fries, flushed down with a soda, we gain weight ,” Veerman said.

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Participants had 22 health education class during the study and were encouraged to be physically active but the focus was on what they ate.

They were advised to choose high-quality foods but were not given indicated calorie restrictions nor were they provided with specific foods. Outcomes are based on what they reported eating.

Fat intake in the low-fat group averaged 57 grams during the study versus 87 grams beforehand, while carb intake in the low-carb group averaged 132 grams versus 247 grams previously.

Both groups reduced their daily calorie intake by an average of about 500 calories.

The leading Australian nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton, from the school of medical sciences at the University of New South Wales, said the “excellent” study highlighted the importance of eating plenty of vegetables.

Stanton advises people to attempt professional help to choose quality foods because the macronutrient content of of a diet” does not really matter “.

” Some previous studies that have damned carbohydrates have not taken note of the foods that rendered it ,” Stanton said.” For instance, lentils and lollies are both’ carbs’ but one is a nutrient-dense high quality food while the other is junk. Simply calling them’ carbs’ does not provide this vital distinction .”

While most diets worked, the real challenge was sticking with them, Veerman said.

” Instead of’ going on a diet’ it would be better to find new, healthier habits ,” he said.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Can your phone keep you fit? Our writers try 10 big fitness apps- from weightlifting to pilates

There are a dizzying number of apps promising to get you in shape even if you cant get to a gym. But can any of them keep our writers moving?


Centr

Price PS15. 49 a month.
What is it? A full-service experience from the Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth: not just workouts, but a complete meal planner- with food for breakfast, lunch and dinner- a daily guided meditation and a daily motivational article.
The experience I immediately regret proclaiming myself “intermediate” as the app launches into a punishing pilates workout. I am not very flexible at all, and it is about to change that my baseline fitness leaves much to be desired in terms of core strength.
More frustrating is the fact that the various workouts are introduced as videos. Clearly, this is supposed to emulate a real pilates class, but when my phone tells me to lie face-down on the floor I can no longer ensure the screen. It is frustrating to have to repeatedly break out of the pose to check the next movement.
Worth a download ? Only if you are single, enjoy cooking and are willing to hand control of your life to an app.
AH

Aaptiv

Price $14.99( PS11. 40) a few months or $99.99 a year.
What is it ? A cheery selection of audio workouts with curated tunes.
The experience Before I start, the app asks me my fitness level, how many times I work out a week, how many weeks a month, what days I work out on, what machines I have access to, and what equipment I have to hand. None of this stops it from absolutely destroying me with bodyweight exercises– but it is the thought that counts.
The teachers are great, with the right level of enthusiasm( read: grating in any other context ). I am glad to have clear verbal instructions for how to do the exercises, rather than wishing I could just read a list of workouts from my screen. Video walkthroughs, available before and after the workout, assist clear up any persisting concerns about form.
Worth a download ? If you want to get fit to the tune of PS7 5 a year, this is the app to expend your money on. AH

Alex
Alex get in the spirit. Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Fitocracy

Price Free; coaching from$ 1 a day.
What is it ? A bizarre mixture of a mediocre workout app and personal trainer upselling.
The experience You get what you pay for, and as a result the free version of Fitocracy is odd. The main workout app lets you defined a goal, then pick workouts from a listing, but the presentation of the workouts is much simpler than its competitors: only a list of exercisings and reps, which you check off as you go.
The problem is that much of the app is effectively broken, with visual artefacts- graphical flaws- all over the place. Digging in, the cause is clear: genuinely, the app is a gateway to a coaching business, where you can spend anything from$ 1 to $250 a month on a one-on-one consultation with a personal trainer.
Worth a download ? If you want free, there is better; if you want a coach, head to your local gym. AH

StrongLifts

StrongLifts
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price PS17. 49 a year.
What is it? A simple and direct approach to strength.
The experience A popular approach to learning to lift free weights, 5×5 involves doing five sets of five reps of heavy weights, with three different exercisings, three times a week.
It demands precisely what it does and no more. You need a gym, a squatting rack, a barbell and a bench. You don’t need to memorise a list of different exerts , nor wonder which equipment you are going to need today , nor, truly, think.
StrongLifts is the best introduction to this type of workout there is, basic coaching and tracking, as well as just enough motivation to get you to lift the next define. It is my personal favourite: in a year, I have gone from struggling with a 20 kg bar to reliably squatting my own weight.
Worth a download ? Yes, if you have access to a gym and don’t know what to do when you are there. AH

Nike Training Club

Nike
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price Free; PS13. 49 a month for the premium version.
What is it ? Slick branded workouts with a generous free offering.
The experience Nike Training Club, the workout sibling to
the more popular Nike Run Club, feels less human than its challengers. While the personal trainers are front and centre, they mostly exist as silent models demonstrating the best form for each exercise.
That may suit a certain type of self-motivated student. Less helpful, for me, is the approach to equipment. I feel as if Nike expects me to have an incredibly well-stocked home- with multiple dumbbells, a skipping rope and a bench- or induce myself tremendously unpopular at the gym by seize six things at once. That said, most of the app is available for free- a price you can’t beat.
Worth a download ? Yes, if free is the magic number. AH

Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness

Sweat
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price PS14. 99 a month or PS88 a year.
What is it ? The chance to have your workout( for the home and gym) and diet scheme organised by not only one Instagram influencer, but five- inspired by everything from
powerlifting and muay thai to yoga.
The experience Kayla Itsines was one of the first internet exercise influencers. She rose to fame with the Bikini Body Guides, her series of fitness ebooks( the name hasn’t aged well ). Itsines still offers the BBG programme, but it now includes differences for different fitness levels. This feels like an app that could stay fresh for well over a year. I like that there are adjustments for various exercises, that it is easy to sync to Spotify, and that it put so much emphasis on rest and rehabilitation to enhance healing.
The meal-planning features are disappointing, though. There is no option to swap indicated recipes, but as some of the suggestions are as unimaginative as” egg and salad roll”, I imagine quite a few people would want to.
Worth a download ? Yes- for the exercising, at least.
CK

Sworkit

Sworkit
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
What is it? It is all about workout on Sworkit, and there is a hell of a lot of it. You can choose from a variety of plans or one-off workouts, customisable by time or focused on body parts( Sworkit is quite to be used in firming hoboes ).
The experience This has one of the best interfaces for exercising of the apps I tried. It works in landscape, counts you in before the next exercise starts and has a preview window to mentally prepare you for the next move. You can alter music within the exercise window and set how long you want to exercise for, with sessions beginning at five minutes. It also has a great voiceover feature: think of the sort of thing a gym instructor might say, such as” keep your toes pointing outward “. The app sends out push notifications to encourage you to exercise, but the upkeep of a plan does not depend on exercising every day. So, novices can define their own pace.
I can’t work out if the instructor figures on Sworkit are AI or humans, but either way I liked them. Sworkit has tried to make its teachers diverse- there are men and women in a variety of sizes. It is a small thing, but I appreciate not always having to follow someone with the figure of a goddess.
Worth a download ? Yes, especially for novices. None of Sworkit’s conferences involve equipment, so if you ever work out at home or while travelling, it can’t be beaten. CK

Fit Body with Anna Victoria

Price $16.99 a month.
What is it? The Instagram influencer Anna Victoria rose to fame with her downloadable workout plans known as the FBGs( or Fit Body Guides) and pictures of smoothie bowls. Here, she brings together her fitness and food advice in one app, offering 12 -week exercise and nutrition programmes, including a customisable snack planner.
The experience The app offer a series of 12 -week plans to last you 60 weeks( for home or gym, for weight loss or sculpting etc ), a forum for users, a journal to log notes and a healthy-meal planner, which aims to spoon-feed the user into eating well( the nutrition segment generates your recipes and grocery list for the week as well as reminding you when to drink water ).

Coco
Coco tries out the apps. Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

I couldn’t get to grip with all of this, but when I tried it out there were some excellent features- a nutrition guide that is not just about calorie-counting( although the variety of the dishes may bore food fans ), plus educational videos( such as breathing does and don’ts) to help newcomers to regular exert. The downsides? The app doesn’t work in scenery mode, so checking the demo during workouts is difficult. Also, workouts often involve equipment. I am not convinced the app would work for total novices( push-ups in week one for a woman seems ambitious , not to mention the amount of vicious burpees ), while scanning future weeks leaves me know … … if it might get boring.
Worth a download ? Unless you are a fan of Victoria and her style, I can’t see it delivering enough. CK

Freeletics

Price PS1. 78 a week for educate; PS2. 66 including nutrional information.
What is it? Touted as a digital personal trainer, this app has a cultish fanbase thanks to its detailed personalised fitness plans.
The experience You can join in with the short but intense fitness challenges, or a variety of running, bodyweight or gym workouts. Users can opt for workouts anywhere between 10 and 25 minutes long, and can select sessions based on parts of the body. So far, so normal. But it is the Coach programme that stands out. The personal plans are created by algorithms that pool the data of users with similar stats to chart your journey. Key to this is regular logging; you will record your details when you first start( height, weight, general fitness level) and log after each workout, telling the app how tough you received it.

Freeletics
Freeletics Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Freeletics promises its workouts will be hard, but not so hard that you give up. It is the feedback moments that allow it to alter your plan accordingly, based on the behaviour of other users who the hell is similar experiences. As with a real coach, “theres plenty” of demo videos and tutorials to guide you through, plus helpful nudges to drink water and sleep well. The Coach can even see if you are overtraining. Freeletics also has a reasonably busy meetup community, some of the social elements of exercise that can be lost when training at home. Plus, the exercises don’t require any equipment
Worth a download ? Perfectly, if you have some experience of exercising- it could be a little overwhelming for a total newbie. CK

30 Day Fitness Challenge

Price Free; from PS1. 99 a week for the premium version.
What is it ? A 30 -day programme with levels from beginner to pro.
The experience Month-long challenges have become a staple of modern fitness. This app capitalises on the idea that people can do anything if it is in short bursts, hence the idea of daily sessions for 30 days.
Most of the challenges are focused on a specific area- there is the” flat belly challenge” and the” slim limbs challenge”- but nearly all involve a full-body workout. The video tutorials are clear and there are 400 workouts in the library if you feel like doing something completely different outside of the challenge. The objective outcome should be that your overall fitness is improved.
Worth a download ? Absolutely- 30 -day challenges may not be for everyone, but, unlike many other apps, there is plenty to do for free. CK

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Read more: www.theguardian.com

Can your telephone maintain you accommodate? Our writers try 10 big fitness apps- from weightlifting to pilates

There are a dizzying number of apps promising to get you in shape even if you cant get to a gym. But can any of them maintain our writers moving?


Centr

Price PS15. 49 a month.
What is it? A full-service experience from the Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth: not only workouts, but a complete dinner planner- with food for breakfast, lunch and dinner- a daily guided meditation and a daily motivational article.
The experience I immediately regret declaring myself “intermediate” as the app launches into a punishing pilates workout. I am not very flexible at all, and it turns out that my baseline fitness leaves much to be desired in terms of core strength.
More frustrating is the fact that the various workouts are introduced as videos. Clearly, this is supposed to emulate a real pilates class, but when my phone tells me to lie face-down on the floor I can no longer insure the screen. It is frustrating to have to repeatedly break out of the pose to check the next movement.
Worth a download ? Merely “if you il” single, enjoy cooking and are willing to hand control of your life to an app.
AH

Aaptiv

Price $14.99( PS11. 40) a few months or $99.99 a year.
What is it ? A cheery selection of audio workouts with curated tunes.
The experience Before I start, the app asks me my fitness level, how many times I work out a week, how many weeks a month, what days I work out on, what machines I have access to, and what equipment I have to hand. None of this stops it from absolutely destroying me with bodyweight exerts– but it is the thought that counts.
The instructors are great, with the right level of enthusiasm( read: grating in any other context ). I am glad to have clear verbal instructions for how to do the exercises, rather than wishing I could just read a list of workouts from my screen. Video walkthroughs, available before and after the workout, help clear up any lingering concerns about form.
Worth a download ? If you want to get fit to the tune of PS7 5 a year, this is the app to expend your money on. AH

Alex
Alex gets in the spirit. Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Fitocracy

Price Free; coaching from$ 1 a day.
What is it ? A bizarre mixture of a mediocre workout app and personal trainer upselling.
The experience You get what you pay for, and as a result the free version of Fitocracy is odd. The main workout app lets you set a aim, then pick workouts from a list, but the submission of the workouts is much simpler than its competitors: merely a list of exercises and reps, which you check off as you go.
The problem is that much of the app is effectively broken, with visual artefacts- graphical glitches- all over the place. Digging in, the cause is clear: really, the app is a gateway to a coaching business, where you can spend anything from$ 1 to $250 a month on a one-on-one consultation with a personal trainer.
Worth a download ? If you want free, there is better; if you want a coach-and-four, head to your local gym. AH

StrongLifts

StrongLifts
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price PS17. 49 a year.
What is it? A simple and direct approach to strength.
The experience A popular approach to learning to lift free weights, 5×5 involves doing five decides of five reps of heavy weights, with three different workouts, three times a week.
It demands precisely what it does and no more. You need a gym, a squat rack, a barbell and a bench. You don’t need to memorise a list of different exercises , nor wonder which equipment you are going to need today , nor, genuinely, think.
StrongLifts is the best introduction to this type of workout there is, basic coaching and tracking, as well as just enough motivation to get you to lift the next set. It is my personal favourite: in a year, I have gone from struggling with a 20 kg bar to reliably squatting my own weight.
Worth a download ? Yes, if you have access to a gym and don’t know what to do when you are there. AH

Nike Training Club

Nike
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price Free; PS13. 49 a few months for the premium version.
What is it ? Slick branded workouts with a generous free offering.
The experience Nike Training Club, the workout sibling to
the more popular Nike Run Club, feels less human than its challengers. While the personal trainers are front and centre, they largely exist as silent models demonstrating the best form for each exercise.
That may suit a certain type of self-motivated student. Less helpful, for me, is the approach to equipment. I feel as if Nike expects me to have an incredibly well-stocked home- with multiple dumbbells, a skip rope and a bench- or attain myself enormously unpopular at the gym by seize six things at once. That said, most of the app is available for free- a price you can’t beat.
Worth a download ? Yes, if free is the magic number. AH

Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness

Sweat
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price PS14. 99 a month or PS88 a year.
What is it ? The chance to have your workout( for the home and gym) and diet plan organised by not only one Instagram influencer, but five- inspired by everything from
powerlifting and muay thai to yoga.
The experience Kayla Itsines was one of the first internet exercise influencers. She rose to fame with the Bikini Body Guides, her series of fitness ebooks( the name hasn’t aged well ). Itsines still offers the BBG programme, but it now includes fluctuations for different fitness levels. This feels like an app that could stay fresh for well over a year. I like that there are adjustments for various exercises, that it is easy to sync to Spotify, and that it put so much emphasis on rest and rehabilitation to enhance healing.
The meal-planning features are disillusioning, though. There is no option to swap indicated recipes, but as some of the suggestions are as unimaginative as” egg and salad roll”, I imagine quite a few people would want to.
Worth a download ? Yes- for the exercise, at least.
CK

Sworkit

Sworkit
Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Price $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
What is it? It is all about workout on Sworkit, and there is a hell of a lot of it. You can choose from a variety of plans or one-off workouts, customisable by period or focused on body parts( Sworkit is quite invested in firming hoboes ).
The experience This has one of the best interfaces for exerting of the apps I tried. It works in landscape, counts you in before the next exercise starts and has a preview window to mentally prepare you for the next move. You can alter music within the exercise window and defined how long you want to exercise for, with sessions beginning at five minutes. It also has a great voiceover feature: think of the sort of thing a gym teacher might say, such as” keep your toes pointing outward “. The app is sending out move notifications to encourage you to exercise, but the upkeep of a plan does not depend on exercising every day. So, novices can set their own pace.
I can’t work out if their teachers figures on Sworkit are AI or humen, but either way I liked them. Sworkit has tried to make its teachers diverse- there are men and women in a variety of sizes. It is a small thing, but I appreciate not always having to follow someone with the figure of a goddess.
Worth a download ? Yes, especially for beginners. None of Sworkit’s conferences require equipment, so if you ever work out at home or while travelling, it can’t be beaten. CK

Fit Body with Anna Victoria

Price $16.99 a month.
What is it? The Instagram influencer Anna Victoria rose to fame with her downloadable workout plans known as the FBGs( or Fit Body Guides) and pictures of smoothie bowls. Here, she brings together her fitness and food advice in one app, offering 12 -week exercise and nutrition programmes, including a customisable dinner planner.
The experience The app offer a series of 12 -week plans to last you 60 weeks( for home or gym, for weight loss or sculpting etc ), a forum for users, a journal to log notes and a healthy-meal planner, which aims to spoon-feed the user into eating well( the nutrition section makes your recipes and grocery list for the week as well as reminding you when to drink water ).

Coco
Coco tries out the apps. Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

I couldn’t get to grip with all of this, but when I tried it out there were some excellent features- a nutrition guide that is not just about calorie-counting( although the various forms of the dishes may bore food devotees ), plus educational videos( such as breathing dos and don’ts) to help newcomers to regular workout. The downsides? The app doesn’t work in scenery mode, so checking the demo during workouts is difficult. Also, workouts often involve equipment. I am not convinced the app would work for total novices( push-ups in week one for a woman seems ambitious , not to mention the amount of vicious burpees ), while scan future weeks leaves me know … … if it might get boring.
Worth a download ? Unless you are a fan of Victoria and her style, I can’t see it delivering enough. CK

Freeletics

Price PS1. 78 a week for educate; PS2. 66 including nutrional information.
What is it? Touted as a digital personal trainer, this app has a cultish fanbase thanks to its detailed personalised fitness schemes.
The experience You can join in with the short but intense fitness challenges, or a variety of running, bodyweight or gym workouts. Users can opt for workouts anywhere between 10 and 25 minutes long, and can select sessions based on parts of the body. So far, so normal. But it is the Coach programme that stands out. The personal plans are created by algorithms that pool the data of users with similar stats to chart your journey. Key to this is regular logging; you will record your details when you first start( height, weight, general fitness level) and log after each workout, telling the app how tough you procured it.

Freeletics
Freeletics Photograph: Alicia Canter/ The Guardian

Freeletics promises its workouts is difficult to, but not so hard that you give up. It is the feedback moments that allow it to alter your plan accordingly, based on the behaviour of other users who had similar experiences. As with a real coach, there are plenty of demo videos and tutorials to guide you through, plus helpful nudges to drink water and sleep well. The Coach can even see if you are overtraining. Freeletics also has a fairly busy meetup community, providing some of the social elements of exercise that can be lost when training at home. Plus, the exercises don’t require any equipment
Worth a download ? Perfectly, if you have some experience of exerting- it could be a little overwhelming for a total newbie. CK

30 Day Fitness Challenge

Price Free; from PS1. 99 a week for the premium version.
What is it ? A 30 -day programme with levels from beginner to pro.
The experience Month-long challenges have become a staple of modern fitness. This app capitalises on the idea that people can do anything if it is in short bursts, hence the idea of daily sessions for 30 days.
Most of the challenges are focused on a specific area- there is the” flat belly challenge” and the” slim arms challenge”- but nearly all involve a full-body workout. The video tutorials are clear and there are 400 workouts in the library if you feel like doing something completely different outside of the challenge. The objective outcome should be that your overall fitness is improved.
Worth a download ? Utterly- 30 -day challenges may not be for everyone, but, unlike many other apps, there is plenty to do for free. CK

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Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘ I wanted a truncheon in my gasps ‘: the rise of the penis extension

More and more men are opting for surgical penis enlargement. Is it a confidence boost, or a con?

It has been more than a year since the operation, but Alistair is still furious about the results.” I paid PS8, 000 and they mutilated me ,” he says.” It was butchery. My partner said it looked like a war meander. My erection is basically ruined .”

In July 2017, the 55 -year-old decorator, from London, became one of a growing number of British men to have a surgical penis enlargement. Talk of improvement was once the preserve of promotional spam mail for bizarre-looking pills and pumps; now, it is serious clinical business. British clinics, which have taken consultancy rooms in Harley Street and in UK cities including Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds, report record numbers of patients calling on their services. One practice, the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery, has gone from performing a handful of penis procedures annually when it opened in 1990 to more than 250 in 2017. Between 2013 and 2017, members of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery carried out 45,604 penis enhancements worldwide. Previous numbers are unknown; the procedure was considered such a minority concern that it wasn’t included in surveys. This increase in demand apparently caters to a growing anxiety about penis size, but it is by no means a risk-free procedure. For Alistair, dreams of a greater penis were overtaken by infections, lumps and an erection that no longer rises above a 45 -degree angle. And he is not alone. In recent years, the General Medical Council has recorded narratives of” wonky penis” and erectile dysfunction following surgery. In Stockholm, last summertime, a 30 -year-old man died after suffering a cardiac arrest following an operation to enlarge his penis.

***

At his Harley Street clinic, Dr Roberto Viel is explaining how a typical expansion runs. First, surgeons sever the organ’s suspensory ligament, causing it to hang an inch or two lower, giving the impression of extra length. They then extract fat from the patient’s belly and inject it into the penis rod, increasing circumference by around two inches. Erect, it’s worth noting, it remains approximately the same size, indicating the motives for many men are not inevitably to enhance either their- or a partner’s- sex experience.

The procedure, which can cost more than PS5, 000, lasts a little over an hour, but causes enough residual discomfort that physicians recommend patients take a week off run. The penis remains bandaged for 10 days. Sex is off the cards for a few months. Erection suppressants are prescribed to avoid stitches being rent open.

” Operations are very safe ,” says Viel, who founded the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery with his twin brother Maurizio.” Perhaps 95% of our patients are very happy. Where they are not, it is often to do with expectations. Some men want 10 inches when nature gave them four or five. I “re saying”, gently,’ This is not possible. I am not a miracle worker .'”

Photograph
Photograph: Ilka& Franz for the Guardian

William O’Connor, a 38 -year-old mechanic from Northampton, is one of his satisfied clients- and it’s easy to understand why. Think of a large can of aerosol deodorant and you have, roughly enough, his new dimensions.” There was one woman who took one look at it and merely went,’ That thing is coming nowhere near me ,'” he says.” But largely it goes down very well. I’ve seen a lot of eyes light up .”

Though generously endowed by nature and confident enough in his body to have appeared in some adult cinemas in his 20 s, O’Connor decided to enhance his girth in 2013.” It was just something I imagination ,” he says with a shrug.” Some humen have hair transplants or belly tucks. I wanted a truncheon in my gasps. My whole life I’ve enjoyed impressing women; this was just an extension of that. You could call it a gentlemanly thing to do .”

O’Connor says he had no concerns beforehand (” My main worry was having the anaesthetic- I’m scared of needles “) and no unhappiness afterwards. The ache was manageable and there were no complications. He views the procedure as akin to working out.” I’m not preoccupied by my body- I have too many other things going on in my life ,” O’Connor says.” But I’m proud of it and I like that it’s in good shape- every part of it .”

The surgery should have no impact on fertility; O’Connor has since married and parent two children( he also has four from a previous relationship ).” I fulfill her after the op, but she was a family friend and knew I’d had it done. I’ve never asked if it was a plus phase .”

***

Amr Raheem is an andrology specialist( meaning his focus is on medicine relating to humen) at University College London Hospital, as well as a surgeon at International Andrology, a private clinic in the capital. Over the past 15 years, he has carried out more than 250 enlargements.” There is no typical patient ,” Raheem says.” All professions, all ethnicities, married, single, gay, straight-out, rich, poor. It’s across the board. And all ages. I’ve worked on men in their 60 s- I don’t know if they go out and use it afterwards. Early 20 s, I won’t do. These are still boys. They must get to know it before they change it .”

Patients come in all shapes and sizes:” I’ve had men who are already large enough. I had one say he wanted to be like a milk bottle. Impossible .”

If there is one unifying factor, it is a lack of confidence about what nature has provided. The median duration of a British penis is, according to a 2016 King’ s College London study, 5.16 in erect and 3.67 in flaccid. Merely 0. 14% of men have what one University of California study defined as a “micropenis”- that is, less than 2.5 inches when erect. Nonetheless, study after study indicates frustration remains widespread among men.

” These are the men who come to us ,” Raheem says.” They are not inevitably small, but they want to feel more confident. In front of women, yes, but in front of other men, too, down the gym, that sort of thing .”

Many of his patients, he adds, have previously” avoided sex or situations where they would be exposed, out of embarrassment. So this attains them happier .”

Not all operations leave happy clients- infections and scarring are both potential side-effects (” This is the same as an operation of different kinds ,” Viel says ). Some men report a decline in angle after the suspensory ligament is cut, but according to David Ralph, a professor of urology at UCL,” By and large, patients don’t complain about that. The operation doesn’t alter the erect length at all- this is only for men who have anxiety about how they look in the changing rooms. The average increase in size is 1.3 cm, less than the diameter of a 1p coin. In my clinics, I prove patients one of these and ask if they still think it is worth it. Less than 5% decide to, and of all the persons who do, the gratification rate is just 20% .”

Occasionally, the cut ligament leaves genitals lopsided when flaccid, and pointing off to the left or right when erect, as Francis Tilley, director of London clinic Androfill, explains.” Ligaments are there for a reason ,” he says.” If you start cutting at them, the stability of the penis will be reduced: the erection will be lower and less straight .” Tilley’s practice offers the operation, but its website clearly identifies it as high risk.

One Stockport-based surgeon, Ravi Kant Agarwal, was struck off( though later allowed to practise again) after botching two procedures. One of his patients, the General Medical Council hear, was left with a penis” bent like a boomerang “. Agarwal was criticised for failing to explain potential complications and misleading patients about the possible outcome, as well as for not having anaesthetic backup during the operations.

Alistair decided to have the operation after 40 years of anxiety.” I played Sunday football and dreaded the changing rooms ,” he says.” It’s not so much the duration as how thin and scrawny it was .”

Six
Photograph: Ilka& Franz for the Guardian

He married, had children and learned to live with his unease. Then, four years ago, after separating from his wife, he asked a new partner how he measured up to her ex-husband.” It was a stupid question ,” Alistair acknowledges.” It’s pathetic that I cared at my age- but I did. To start with she told me it was fine, but I kept pushing and, eventually, she simply told me: his was bigger .”

Alistair took out a PS5, 000 loan to add to PS3, 000 of savings, and paid to go under the knife.( Surgery is difficult to obtain on the NHS, though it can be offered for psychological reasons, or to correct a true micropenis .)” It was the worst thing I’ve ever done ,” he says.” The pain afterwards … I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand. It was beyond anything they told me to expect. The wound get infected, and when they gave me antibiotics, it kept seeping pus. The scarring has barely faded even now .” He says the fat injection became lumpy, while his erection no longer stands straight.” It just doesn’t hanging in there. It’s deformed .”

Not long after the operation, he and his partner- who had repeatedly insisted he should not have it done- split up. As we speak, he is preparing for one of his first dates since their separation.” I’m already worried about what she might think if we get intimate ,” he admits.

***

Thomas Modecai, 37, a teacher from Crewe, has struggled with the size of his penis for most of his life.” When I was 14, I shot up to 6ft but my penis stayed the same ,” he says.” I felt like a human with a child’s penis. And it’s affected everything: my relationships, my confidence, even my desire to have children. I fretted they might have the same issue .”

The only person who has ever seen him without clothes is his wife.” But even with her- we’ve been married 14 years- I was still anxious .”

After being rejected twice by doctors (” One said,’ Don’t worry about your penis, but you’re overweight ‘”), Modecai contacted Andrology International and, in August last year, paid PS6, 800 for a duration and girth boost.

” My wife didn’t like the idea ,” he says.” But this had been bothering me for 20 years. I’d already tried pills and potions- useless stuff you insure advertised in spam- and I was depleted. I needed it fixing .”

Since the surgery, he has felt happier and more confident.” I’m not exactly skipping round the house naked but, you are aware, maybe once I lose that weight ,” he says.” And we’re now thinking about children .”

I ask for his pre-op dimensions. He doesn’t want his exact measurings reported, but they are surprising: while flaccid, he was smaller than most men; erect, his penis grew significantly. Modecai, it seems, experienced two decades of stress despite the fact that, fully extended, he was bigger than the UK average. This apparent contradiction does not surprise Angela Gregory, a psychosexual therapist based at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.” Penis enlargements can be about a lot of things ,” she says.” But the amount of anxiety a man experiences rarely, in my experience, correlates with his actual size .”

The sheer symbolism of what’s in a man’s gasps may be a factor. As Harrison Pope and Katharine Phillips write in their volume on male body obsessions, The Adonis Complex, genitals ought to have equated with” virility, procreative potency, and power” throughout history. This has been compounded by an apparent rise in general masculine vanity. Figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons demonstrate the total number of male procedures doubled between 2005 and 2015, with breast reduction, rhinoplasty and neck lifts especially popular. For those in need of rejuvenation, surgery is cheaper and more easily available than ever.

Eric
Eric Bell, 68, is preparing for his third enlargement:’ It induces me happy knowing I have something eye-opening down there .’ Photograph: Richard Baybutt

Furthermore, Gregory highlightings two other recent developments: the proliferation of pornography and the rise of TV shows where brutal physical objectification has become, for the first time, an equal-opportunities phenomenon.

” Young humen generally become preoccupied with the size of their genitals when they compare with others ,” she says.” Historically, this was limited to changing rooms or the odd top-shelf magazine. But now there is this almost routine exposure to porn via smartphones. And that is creating a generation of men whose expectations of what they should look like are entirely unattainable .”

Added to that, she says, is the popularity of depicts such as Love Island where objectification comes as standard. In the summer of 2017, one male contestant was described as having” a penis like a baseball bat “; it was, unequivocally, a compliment. None of this objectification is new, of course: it’s just new for men.” But that doesn’t mitigated potential impacts ,” Gregory says.” For the individual who is going through the trauma of dreading his penis is too small, this is still devastating .”

All this might be leading to more than simple image anxiety; some have pointed to a new mental-health issue they term penile dysmorphic disorder.” It is a minority of men- and we don’t know how many- but it certainly exists and it’s as damaging as any other body dysmorphia ,” says Professor David Veale, of King’s College London, an authority on health nervousness.” These humen might seek out surgery, and for a few months they will be happy with the results. But then the same anxieties reappear. So, they seek out further surgery. It becomes a circle. But you cannot keep stimulating your penis bigger. This requires therapy .”

Largely, he says, these cases remain undisclosed.” Those who suffer don’t necessarily realise themselves, and rarely acknowledge it. It is an invisible illness .”

So how can we be sure it really exists?” Because the number of men seeking surgery, or the growth of this strange industry selling pills and other so-called enlargement remedies, these numbers do not map up with the numbers of men who actually have a significantly smaller penis than average ,” Veale says.” So, these men are worrying about- and trying answers for- a problem they do not have .”

Veale’s theory chimes with the experience of a retired marketings manager I fulfill in a drab Sheffield consultancy room. A lifelong bachelor, Eric Bell, 68, is charming and well-dressed, if, with a beard tinted blue, a touch eccentric. He is also preparing for his third penis enlargement- an operation that, judging from the sizeable member already between his legs, is unnecessary.” I’d just like it a bit fatter here ,” he explains, circling thumb and middle thumb around the top of his shaft.” I’m single, but it constructs me happy knowing I have something eye-opening down there .” We expend five minutes discussing the merits of this before he asks his own question:” Can I put it away now ?”

Bell says he had his first expansion in 2015, a year after agony the trauma of his brother drowning in York’s River Foss.” I suffered severe depression ,” he says.

Are the two things linked? “Possibly,” he says.” I don’t know. I don’t think about it .”

Bell is a patient at Moorgate Aesthetics, which has head offices in Doncaster. When I ask managing director David Mills if this may be one client who doesn’t need any more girth, he waves away the concern. Bell, he says, knows his own intellect, and has passed a psychological evaluation. The operation goes ahead.

This evaluation is something all clinics I speak to insist on. It involves a patient meeting with a surgeon or psychologist to have their general mental wellbeing assessed. If there is any hint of underlying concerns, problems or mental health issues, the operation does not go ahead. But, in recognition of the fact that such a repudiation would mean clinics losing PS5, 000 a pop, one does wonder how rigorous these assessments are. Is the entire industry simply profiting off insecurity bordering on dysmorphia?

Dr Roberto Viel supposes not.” I tell my patients we can give you a bigger penis, but we cannot construct you happy ,” he says.” You must be happy first, in your heart and head. If not, this operation “re not for” you. All it would entail is you are still unhappy – you just have a slightly bigger penis .”

Professor Ralph at UCL believes that some clinics are feeding patients’ unrealistic expectations.” Initially, they don’t see physicians, they consider sales people. It’s a hard sell:’ We can get you an extra inch or two .’ I’ve been practising in the NHS for 30 years: if it was that easy to increase the length of a normal penis, I’d be in the Mediterranean on my cruise liner now .”

Ralph thinks that” penile stretchers”, marketed under the name Andropenis, can be just as effective; but few humen is now ready to build such commitments of wearing a traction device for six hours a day for six months. He also points out that, for men with an unhealthy BMI, weight loss can be enough to build the penis appear bigger.

In a last brief dialogue with Alistair, he asks if I would ever consider going under the knife. I tell him I’ve seen such a bewilder array of shapes and sizes over the past few weeks, I don’t even know what normal is any more. If it does the job nature aimed, I say, that should be enough. For many humen wanting an expansion, it’s probably not so much about what’s in their pants as what, somewhere along the way, has got into their intellects- and that can’t be fixed by a fat injection and a severed ligament.

Alistair thinks about this and appears to agree:” Once it’s in your head, it’s difficult to let it go- even after you’ve had surgery .”

* Alistair’s name has been changed.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Seven routes … to avoid type 2 diabetes

Here are measures you can take to avoid the disease that affects more than 3m people in the UK


Seven styles … to avoid type 2 diabetes

Here are measures you can take to avoid the disease that affects more than 3m people in the UK