Weight loss is a big concern for many modern people, especially with two thirds of the population in most first world countries being overweight or obese. And, if we are among those numbers, it is vitally important to lose weight for our physical and mental wellbeing. Being a little overweight does no long term harm, but the heavier you get, the more at risk you are for all kinds of ailments. Diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, strokes, heart failure, anxiety… All these conditions are more likely when you are seriously overweight or obese. What is more, recent studies have found that even healthy obese people inevitably develop these conditions if they stay obese. Which means that even if you are healthy, the one way you can avoid these conditions is to not be obese.
However, for many of us our desire to lose weight does not come from a cold, calculated decision based on our medical history and desire to improve our health. For many of us, the primary motivator, I am sorry to say, is self-loathing. The biggest push for many people to lose weight is looking in the mirror and feeling disappointed they do not look like their favorites celeb. And whilst wanting to look better is a valid reason for losing weight, hating your body is not.
Weight loss plans based on self-loathing will rarely succeed. First of all because, sorry to say, but there will always be something you don't like about your body. Many obese people who lose weight then have to contend with loose skin. You may never stop being apple or pear shaped. You could find your cellulite doesn't go away. Or you might just focus on something else once the weight is gone. And the second reason is that low self-esteem leads to all sorts of mental complaints which increase your risk of overeating or undereating, which can lead to eating disorders. If you do not respect your body, it is easy to choose an unhealthy or dangerous diet plan, to comfort eat, or to punish yourself with food.
Quite simply: Weight loss is not a replacement for self-respect.
You can love your body for what it is and still want to lose weight. You can work on losing weight whilst marveling at how your body hosts you. You can dress your body for what it is and feel sexy and confident at any size. Likewise, you can hate your body, disregard its intricate beauty, dress poorly and feel unsexy and worthless even if you get super skinny. And whatever mindset you have now is the mindset you will have in three months’ time, whatever your weight, unless you actively work on that mindset.
It is important to develop a positive body image before, during, and after weight loss. You will not change your mind about your body no matter what it looks like, but if you change your mind first, then your body will follow. And if your weight loss comes from a place of self-love, then it will be easier to work for and easier to maintain.
Your body is a beautiful, wonderful piece of machinery. It is keeping you alive as we speak, giving you the ability to move and speak and think and do all sorts of things. It is the only body you will ever have, and it deserves to be loved, by you at the very least. Weight loss isn't fixing your body. It is looking after it. You would not say you were fixing a broken dog if said dog needed to go on a diet, you would say you are healing it, or caring for it. Thus, you must treat your body the same way, like a beloved pet.
Sometimes what your body craves is not good for it, and what it refuses to do is what it needs. But we can nudge it in the right direction, not because we are disgusted by it, but because we truly, deeply love it and want it to do well. You have to show yourself that level of love and respect if you want to succeed at weight loss and be happy.