I have encountered many people struggling with their body image and believing that weight loss is a major part of the solution. I disagree. Losing weight will not necessarily make you like your body more. We don’t have to love our bodies day in and day out but learning to appreciate our bodies and the different shapes we all come in can help you when you are trying to make behaviour changes for your health. It’s a lot easier to take care of a body that you like then one you wage battles against. We talk about best weight a lot at our clinic. Best weight is whatever weight you achieve while living the healthiest lifestyle you can truly enjoy. There comes a point when a person cannot eat less or exercise more and still like their life. The weight they attain while still liking their life is thus their “best” weight. This weight may not be what you had in mind, especially if you are struggling with body image too.
Body image is a person's perception and attitude of his or her body size, shape, and attractiveness and it can be influenced by their own feelings, culture, by the reactions of people around them, and by what’s represented as “beauty” in the media. Here are some ideas to consider when thinking about your own body image:
• Healthy bodies come in different shapes and sizes.
• Body size and weight do not predict happiness, success, or health.
• People are more than numbers on a scale; every person is a unique individual with admirable talents, skills, and abilities.
• Images in the media are unrealistic and are created to sell products.
So what can you do?
• Start to notice and to question the “thin” messages from the media and the people around us and refuse to accept what the media presents as ‘beautiful’
• Remember your self-worth is not related to how you look and tell yourself and others this.
• Empower others to feel good about themselves for who they are, not how they look. Avoid commenting on how someone looks and instead compliment them for their skills and abilities.
• Ditch your diet. Nourish your body and indulge sometimes too! Get help from a Registered Dietitian if you want to know how best to do this.
Christine McPhail MSc RD