When was the last time you looked in the mirror and said “I love my body.” Or do you only see what you consider your flaws? Many times when you are on our weight and wellness journey, you only focus on your flaws and not your best features. The weight loss industry doesn’t help with this.
The weight loss industry markets messaging that suggests “If you just lose weight everything will be great.” or “ With weight loss, you’ll look in the mirror and feel beautiful.”
That’s far from the truth. Self-love isn’t dictated by your dress size. And looking in the mirror
won’t guarantee instant happiness. Self-love starts deep within.
I’ve lost 60 lbs twice and worn 7 different dress sizes in my adult life so I can tell you from
experience, weight loss doesn’t ensure instant happiness. I know I’m not alone because I
guided hundreds of women through their weight and wellness journey with similar experiences.
Rather, I've learned that when you love yourself at any size, you won’t need the scale or your dress size to determine your happiness. Let’s take that a little deeper: your weight won’t determine your worth.
Here me out, I’m not saying it’s “wrong” to have things about yourself you want to change.
However, why you want to change and how you treat yourself on your weight & wellness
journey is important. I’ve learned the hard way on my own Embrace You Weight & Wellness
journey and through helping hundreds of women on their journey that self-love is essential for sustainable change.
So how do you transform “body hate” into body love? Check out this Obesity Help blog post I wrote “How to Transform Body Hate to Body Love.” I share “5 Steps to Cultivate Body Love”:
1. Write down your negative thoughts.
2. Match each negative thought with a positive body love affirmation
3. Release people, places, circumstances & mindsets that make you feel bad about
4. Invest in clothes that make you feel good about your current body.
5. Seek help, especially if you can’t move past hating your body.
In the article I share important details about each step. But let’s talk about step 5, “Seek Help” in detail. Body dissatisfaction, or body hate, is associated with our past experiences and many mental health conditions. These conditions range from a history of trauma/ abuse to several mental health disorders. Major depressive disorders and generalized anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders and have worsened during the pandemic.
Both depression and anxiety can be associated with a negative self-image. More specifically, body hate can be a symptom of psychiatric conditions such as eating disorders. The most common officially recognized eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an obsessive-compulsive disorder characterized by
intensely focusing on a physical feature the person thinks is flawed but not recognized as flawed by others. A significant amount of time is spent focusing on the feature and compulsively trying to correct it.
Both eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder are serious medical conditions that need multidisciplinary treatment from medical and mental health professionals. If you suspect you have an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder, it is worth seeking help.
Try starting with the National Eating Disorders Association. It has a helpline and many
resources. For body dysmorphic disorder, try finding a psychologist near you via Psychology Today.com.
Technically “restrictive dieting” isn’t an eating disorder that’s officially recognized by the
psychological textbooks. However, frequent dieting and being in diet culture can impact how you feel about your body. If you feel like “I’m always on a diet.” and would like to heal your relationship with food and your body, I recommend reading “Embrace You: Your Guide to Transform Weight Loss Misconceptions Into Lifelong Wellness.” This bestseller book also
clarifies other forms of misinformation such as using the BMI as the only way to find Your Happy, Healthy Weight. Medical misinformation regarding the BMI and weight is another source of body dissatisfaction.
Spirituality & Self-Love
Self-love isn’t selfish. Depending on your spiritual background you may have grown up with the false belief that loving yourself is vain or selfish. I have a relationship with Christ and enjoy reading the Bible. The Golden Rule which says “Love your neighbor as yourself” is one of my favorite verses about self love.
As a recovering people-pleaser I admit I only focused on the “love your neighbor'' without thinking much about the “as yourself” part of the Golden Rule. As I have grown God has shown me that loving myself is a foundation for loving other people well. Whenever I'm struggling with self-love I think about how much God loves me and how God sees. Appreciating God’s love for me enables me to love myself better.
Even if you aren’t a Believer, take time to appreciate how marvelous your body is. Even if you aren’t in love with your body yet, take time to appreciate all your body does for you.
A simple spiritual practice is to thank your body for what it is able to do daily. Gratitude has been shown to be a powerful way to improve your self-appreciation. Self-appreciation can lead to self-love.
Transforming Yourself From Body Hate Into Body Love
As an Obesity Medicine expert who has also personally lost 60 pounds twice, I can say that the transformation from body hatred to body love or more importantly self-love doesn’t occur overnight. It is a gradual process that consists of many choices.
I encourage you to do the internal and external body-mind-spirit work to transform body hate to body love & overall self-love. Regardless of what your weight or wellness goal is, I have found that embracing self-love is essential to making lasting, lifelong transformations and moving past harmful dieting that only leads to temporary changes. A diet may not last, but the gift of self-love and the positive lifestyle changes it contributes to can last a lifetime.
This Valentine’s Day give yourself the gift of self-love. Make your body your Boo. You are too
fabulous not to.