How your body image affects your weight

I was familiar with the “love your body” concept when I was in high school and college. That’s when I was the most unhappy with and uncomfortable in my body.

I would stand in front of the mirror and criticize and critique my body, picking out all of the “flaws” I could find. I would pinch at the extra skin on my stomach and thighs and dream of what life would be like if it wasn’t there. I would stay in instead of going out with friends because I hated how my body looked and nothing seemed to fit right.

So love my body?? It sounded like a total joke!

It didn’t make any sense to me because I believed that if I chose to love or accept my body for what it was, that my body would just be like: “OK she’s cool with me, I don’t have to change.”

And then I’d never lose weight…and I might even GAIN weight!

I believed beating myself up for the way my body looked would motivate me into eating perfectly or never skipping a workout. I’d say things to myself like “arms are pretty good, calves are nice, but THIGHS, BUTT, you need WORK!” I was very critical of everything.

I had no interest at ALL in improving my body image. What was the point??

I had 1 goal and 1 goal only: to lose weight so I could finally feel happy and confident and do all these things I’d been putting off until that point.

Anything less, meant I failed. Go big or go home, no pain no gain…all that stuff.

This mindset kept me in a state of constant stress for a really long time, and just fed into my diet-binge cycle. My mental space was kept to capacity constantly tracking food or counting calories, feeling guilty over what I ate, and logging hours at the gym. It was exhausting and tedious.

And bottom line: I NEVER lost weight with this approach that I could keep off long term. This plan was not effective. So now what, and what about you??

When you look in the mirror, are you happy with what you see?

Do you look at each part of your body and over-critique and analyze which parts could be smaller – like I did?

Do you compare your body to other women’s bodies?

What do you love about your body?

What upsets you?

Is there really a connection between body love or acceptance and weight loss?

So many women believe what I did: that once they lose weight, then they’ll just automatically love themselves and their body.

And that they need to body shame themselves to motivate themselves to lose weight. They need to punish their bodies for being what they are now.

I want to help you learn from my mistakes.

So right now, take a step back and think about how you answered my questions from earlier in this post: how do you view your body? Are you happy with it for what it looks like NOW?

Thinking about this may seem silly and unproductive if your goal is weight loss, but it’s actually one of the best things you can do to improve your health and happiness.

Working to attain a positive body image or at least accepting your body now for what it is, is often overlooked, which is one big reason why dieters fail.

The way you think about yourself (in the body you have today!) is the key to forming lifelong habits that’ll give you the sustainable results you’re looking for.

The BIG reason behind that is that we naturally want to take care of what we love and what’s important to us. If you love your body, you’re naturally going to want to do things to take good care of it…which in this case will help you effortlessly make and stick with the healthy habit changes you’re looking to make.

The reverse is true too, if you’re unhappy with your body, chances are you’re not going to treat it very well. It’ll be a constant uphill battle and struggle against yourself.

I want to invite you to meet yourself where you are, and work from there. Come from a place of kindness and curiosity.

Body Image Spectrum

The society we live in is constantly sending us messages that we need to be smaller and that our worth is largely based on our appearance. Because of this appearance-based focus, we’re inundated with messages around needing to exercise more and eat perfectly and jump on the next quick fix diet bandwagon.

How long can you go punishing yourself through hardcore diet and exercise to meet unrealistic beauty and weight expectations?

We’re fed the false hope that when we drop those last few pounds we’ll automatically be SO happy and confident and love ourselves.

This is a lie. If you’re unhappy with yourself and body now, you still will be when you’re smaller (if nothing else changes).

At my smallest and lightest weight, I was the most unhappy. I’ve heard that from so many other women too! Sure I fit into a size 0 or 2 or whatever, but I was even more paranoid about taking an off-day from the gym or what I was eating or drinking because I thought it would make me gain weight.

I couldn’t relax or have fun because I was always thinking about my next meal and how I could make sure it was super clean or how I shouldn’t meet up with friends at a bar because I’d be tempted to drink…and drinks have sugar and empty calories which are no go’s!!

Working through body love or acceptance, and what else to do if crazy exercise and dieting isn’t the answer can be a bit of a process, they’re both KEY pieces in my coaching program, but I do want to give you 3 starter tips to think about and practice!

First, start small.

Instead of overhauling your diet and striving right for body love, so slow. Think of it as a spectrum. You’re far more likely to stick to things if you start smaller than if you were to make huge changes in your life. I used to try various diets and “fail” at them – when really the diets failed ME – but blaming myself would kill my confidence and self trust. Building that back up is key.

Next, get clear on how you want to feel.

What do you imagine weighing your goal weight will feel like or bring you? Once you have decided how you want to feel, set goals from this place with these feelings dictating your next moves. This shifts you from pursuing goals and things, to pursuing how you want to feel.

You might even abandon certain goals along the way realizing that they won’t bring you the feelings you desire, and that’s ok, that’s great actually! For example, I often hear weight loss will make me feel happier. So shift your focus from weight loss to happiness. What can you do NOW or work toward NOW that will bring you happiness?

Next, prioritize self care, ladies!!

Between work, kids, friends, and family we often forget that we need to set aside time for ourselves as well.

Life becomes all about obligations and schedules, instead of fun and relaxation. This is not okay! Prioritizing our own self-care is not selfish or unnecessary. In fact, it’s 100% necessary for our personal well-being and our relationships to our bodies. If we are not taking care of ourselves, we will not feel good. If we are not taking care of ourselves, we will not feel confident and comfortable in our bodies. You can’t pour from an empty cup – if you’re tired and depleted all the time, other areas of your life will suffer.

Try to do something, even small, every day, to care for body and or mind. Like start your day with lemon water or tea, write in your journal for 10 minutes, read before bed, dance around your kitchen (I totally do this daily while I cook dinner!), take a bath, go to yoga, do some deep breathing…you get the point. Free or not, 5 minutes or an hour, there are no hard rules to this. Show yourself you matter and you’re coming from a place of love.

So to recap, approach your goals, especially weight loss, from a place of kindness and love for yourself and your body (or maybe just start with body respect or appreciation). You’ll see better results, and you won’t suffer the whole way there.

Want to get there even faster and easier? I’m here to help! Click here to book your free phone consult 🙂