By: Tricia Stefankiewicz
Many women hold this idea that somehow once they lose weight or when they finally achieve an ideal weight that they have in their mind, they will miraculously have this overwhelming sense of love for their body. We tell ourselves lies such as:
• I will have a better relationship/sex life
• My life would be so much better/easier
• I will feel so much happier about my body
• All of my dreams will finally come true
• I would feel more or more worthy of love
I’ve seen women who would be considered obese, have much more self-love than women who are within a normal weight range. In my own life, I look back at the time when I was my most physically active and seemingly healthy and fit, but I didn’t feel this overwhelming sense of love for myself or my body. In fact, I felt like I did a lot of punishing myself by working out more of skipping meals when I ate more than I thought I should have. So much of our self-love is based on our weight and appearance.
The weight loss may be conditional. You love yourself when you are such and such weight. But what happens if at some point you gain back that weight? Does your mindset about loving your body change now that you no longer the perfect weight you desire?
Will achieving the desired weight make your relationship better, your life easier, make you feel an abundance of self-love, and make all of your dreams come true? It may make ¬you feel more comfortable in your own skin with new found confidence that leads to other changes, but you make an effort to build and maintain self-love, I don’t know that it will magically happen when you achieve your desired weight.
We deserve to have self-love, ALL of the time, UNCONDITIONALLY, not just when we achieve a desired weight.
• Will losing weight improve your health and make you feel so much better? Yes
• Will losing weight lower your risk of developing obesity related disease? Hell yes
• Will losing weight make you love yourself more? Maybe not
Instead of waiting to love yourself until you achieve whatever it is you want to achieve, let’s shift our attention from weight loss to instead focusing on being healthy and learning to have increased self-acceptance that we maintain no matter our weight. This is much more sustainable. Your weight doesn’t define you. Your weight won’t make you love yourself more.
“If we make self-love or body acceptance conditional, the truth is, we will never be happy with ourselves. The reality is that our bodies are constantly changing, and they will never remain exactly the same. If we base our self-worth on something as ever-changing as our bodies, we will forever be on the emotional roller coaster ride of body obsession and shame.” Chrissy King
What does a healthy lifestyle and mindset shift not based on weight look like?
Focusing instead on a healthy lifestyle such as adequate nutrition, physical activity, not smoking, not drinking too much alcohol, and getting enough sleep will have greater impact on your health than having the sole focus of weight. Together, these will help reduce risk of diseases, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, some forms of cancer, and stroke. They help heal and grow, fight illness, recover from illness or injury, increase energy levels, and maintain a healthy weight. How many of us know people who are at a weight that we completely desire but are doing few of the above behaviors. It’s the behaviors, NOT the weight, that matters!
In addition to focusing on health, we must include shifts on our mental health.
This includes practicing self-love, self-acceptance and gratitude.
Self-love: an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue
Self-love | Definition of Self-love by Merriam-Webster (merriam-webster.com)
Replace that voice in your head filled with all of that negative self-talk with something positive
• I am enough
• I am worthy of the love that comes my way
• I am deserving
• I choose to love myself as I am
• I love my body and all that it does for me
Self-acceptance: the act or state of accepting oneself : the act or state of understanding and recognizing one’s own abilities and limitations
Self-acceptance | Definition of Self-acceptance by Merriam-Webster (merriam-webster.com)
This means loving ourselves despite what we see as flaws and what we love about ourselves. It means allowing yourself to be human. And it’s much more sustainable than basing your value and self-worth on weight. Self-acceptance is how you talk to yourself, forgiving yourself, and creating new patterns and behavior. This looks something like: “ I love myself – even if I don’t like all of my trait and behaviors.
Read Books by:
• Brene Brown whose work focuses on shame, courage, and vulnerability
• Kristin Neff whose work focusing on self-compassion
Take some time to thank your body and be grateful for all that it has done for you
So often we punish ourselves for what we see as our body failing us. We blame our body for illness, injury, infertility, miscarriage, menopause, and aging. Maybe we can start to reframe the punishing into gratitude instead. Look at all that your body has accomplished. It may have worked hard to grow and nourish a human, allowed a child to be born, helped you recover from injury or an illness with healing. It may be your strength that helps you take that hike or long walk. Our bodies are strong and allow us to move through and experience life at the fullest. Because your body is part of you and deserves to be loved unconditionally. This acceptance is the greatest way to show yourself love.
I know it’s easier to focus on weight than work on the mindset which is often much more difficult. But you don’t have to lose weight to start feeling good about yourself. You can start now by taking tiny imperfect, consistent steps will take you closer to this goal. Remember to start where you’re at. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being 1% better each day. Be kind to yourself friends.