During the weight loss journey, reaching goals is key. Maintaining a healthy self-image can be a difficult but powerful goal. Being comfortable in your skin when facing the world in a body with excess weight can make staying positive an overwhelming struggle. Society does not accept being overweight. Fat shaming is real. Staying positive about yourself in public and ignoring the subtle and not so subtle message that overweight is NOT OKAY, makes accepting your body as it is even more difficult to accept and to believe in yourself.
Weight loss through acceptance of your body, exactly the way it is, may sound counter-intuitive; however, doctors, dietitians and centers, like The Bariatric Center of Kansas City, who focus on productive weight loss are finding self-image plays a significant role. Power comes from accepting who you are, and loving yourself as you deserve to be loved, despite societal norms. An overweight individual has every right to be happy and content with respect to their sense of self as well as their own body.
In an article on accepting our body as it is, Caroline J. Cederquist, M.D., a board-certified bariatric physician, asks, “How can a man or a woman be accepting of their body when it falls so far outside of society’s vision of the ideal form?” She insists that her experience indicates those who accept their weight and deal with it powerfully are the ones who achieve the most profound and lasting weight loss results. Her advice is to change the internal conversation.
Most people decide to lose weight because they are not satisfied with how they feel being overweight: unhealthy, defeated, shame, and hopeless, just to name a few. The idea of acceptance is not suggesting that there is no need for weight loss and overweight individuals should just accept being overweight. Acceptance, in this context, means that the individual changes the way they view themselves, stops defining themselves by their weight or societies viewpoint, realizes their current weight is suitable, and begins to accept that they are a whole person capable of achieving goals. Acceptance, much like weight loss, is a process.
The first step in any change process is having an open mind. Being open to the change and all the ups and downs along the way is essential to creating lasting change in any aspect of life. Your current weight and your self-image, at this moment, are temporary. Tomorrow is a new day, full of numerous opportunities to form new opinions. Being open to change, moment by moment, allows you to be excited and confident throughout your weight loss.
Weight Loss Through Acceptance
Step 1: You are an individual – not a weight
People tend to identify most with the qualities that they believe stand out the most. This step requires that you begin to identify yourself based on the qualities that make you a person deserving of your own self-respect. Shift your internal conversation away from shame and self-loathing based on your weight and to one of power and possibility. Find a positive quality and make that your most prominent feature. No scale can measure the quality of a person.
Step 2: Define who you are and who you will be
As you continue your weight loss you become less “limited by your mobility”. This exercise asks you to imagine who you are when you are active and mobile. Define your future and include what your life looks like when it is not defined by the shape or weight of your body; imagine a future of “activity and mobility.” Once you can see what your life will become it is possible to take control of life and regain health and wellness.
Step 3: Plan your future reality
Outline each step that you will take in becoming a lighter, healthier you. An action step is more than a statement like “lose 60 pounds”, which is too large to manage. Be specific and perhaps methodical. Break each goal into tiny achievable steps to reach your desired outcome. “Lose weight” becomes: “research a nearby gym,” or “buy cute yoga pants.”
Fat acceptance gives overweight individuals permission to feel good about who they are and confident in the journey. Overcoming weight problems and achieving lasting weight loss is not an easy or quick path. Accepting yourself as a good and decent person who deserves to feel good about your life is essential to creating lasting change in your life. That belief and confidence has nothing to do with your weight. You are a powerful person NOW! You are capable and full of potential NOW! Your acceptance of yourself begins NOW!