Body Image and Weight Loss

It's a strange time we live in. Never before has popular public opinion been so obsessed with being thin. Yet the statistics tell us that obesity is at an all time high!

While we stare at thin women and muscled men, - the reality is, a good proportion of us are struggling with our weight.

It is no surprise that prescriptions of anti-depressant medicines are also very high in the Western world. We are not a happy people. For many of us struggling to lose weight, we are bombarded with a constant media barrage of "THIN IS IN".

The Truth versus The Lies

It is hard to find someone who is happy with their body. We all carry around some kind of distorted body image. But are you telling yourself the truth?

What is motivating you to lose weight? Whose rules are you living by? Is there such a thing as an ideal body weight? Does it really matter? Health issues occur at both extremes of the scale (very thin or very fat).

So why not be happy with your current weight?

The Fashion Industry Myth

The fashion industry would have you believe that unless you are stick-thin and skeletal you have not achieved the ideal weight loss goal. This is a lie.

Most women carry around 23% body fat and the average man around 17%.

In fact if a woman is too thin, she can experience menstrual problems and hormone production problems. Women were not meant to be that thin - and indeed most advertising often show normal sized people putting pressure on themselves to lose weight.

There is a terrible paradox going on here where the pressure to diet has moved beyond obesity problems, and become a food obsession that only fuels the prevalence of eating disorders.

Improving Your Body Image

"I am not my body"

Every time you look at yourself in the mirror, say to yourself "I am not my body". In our culture our physical self has become enmeshed with our identity, our soul, or who we are.

You are more than just a body - you are a unique person with your own thoughts, feelings, spirit, and soul.

If you have fat thighs, say "I have fat thighs", rather than "I am really fat". Separating your identity as a person from your physical body is a step in the right direction.

Believe In Yourself

Stop getting down on yourself, and constantly worrying about your weight. Set yourself a long-term goal. But remember this - having a thin body will not make you happy.

Only you have the power to choose to be happy (at whatever weight you are).

Go Easy With The Scales

No matter how many times you stand on those scales, it's not going to change your weight.

Weighing yourself daily is unnecessary. Set aside one day a week to weigh yourself. Make sure it is the same time each week and that you are consistent in what you are wearing (or not wearing!).

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Many of us (particularly teenagers) hang around with the wrong people.

If you have a friend that is obsessed with the way they look, then this influence will rub off. Spend time with friends who accept you for you - not your clothing labels or size.

Monitor Your Self Talk

A wise man once said "You are what you think". This isn't meant to be a deception. Thinking "I am slim I am slim" doesn't make you slim. But thinking about where you are headed and where you will be is a great motivator. "I may have fat thighs but I am becoming healthier and fitter everyday."

Feed Your Mind On What Is Good For You

Many TV programs, movies, and magazines give a very distorted view of reality. The cast of many shows come from a modeling agency rather than from a general selection of the population.

Popular media is obsessed with looks. Many popular sitcoms portray a values system that is based around physical appearance more than anything else. Watch what you feed your mind on.

A good portion of the advertising industry is based around making you feel like you are not good enough, so you must buy product X.

References

  • Matz, P. E., Foster, G. D., Faith, M. S., & Wadden, T. A. (2002). Correlates of body image dissatisfaction among overweight women seeking weight loss. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(4), 1040. Link
  • McCabe, M., & Ricciardelli, L. (2001). Parent, peer and media influences on body image and strategies to both increase and decrease body size among adolescent boys and girls. Adolescence, 36(142), 225-240. Link
Last Updated 11 Jan 2015