To so many people, weight loss signifies a positive future. It isn’t just losing weight for “health purposes.” It’s finally liking our bodies – and ourselves. It’s finally taking better care of ourselves because we think we truly deserve it after we’ve reached our “goal weight.” It’s finally being self-confident. It’s finally being popular. It’s finally nourishing our bodies or fixing the relationships in our lives – with ourselves, with food and with others. It’s finally accomplishing various life goals (like work, for instance).
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
And it’s finally being happier. But does weight loss really deliver all of this? I think that most of us – if not all of us – know in our hearts that all of these changes and more don’t magically arrive on a silver platter once we lose weight. (In fact, many of us probably spend more time being miserable trying to maintain a weight that isn’t natural or healthy for us.) Those commercials with various celebrities saying how their food concerns disappeared after they started an eating plan (usually Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig) are beyond deceiving. Because in no way, shape or form do diets help you repair a relationship with food. In fact, they sabotage it.
If like Sara Rue in the Jenny Craig commercial, you don’t leave the house because you’re uncomfortable in your own skin, then there are deeper issues there that are important to work on. Losing weight won’t make feelings of inadequacy and shame vanish. Again, weight loss isn’t rainbows and unicorns. (Unfortunately, our society says it is, so I know this connection is incredibly hard to sever.) But here’s something that I realized after my own weight and food struggles – you can accomplish everything you want to accomplish regardless of your weight, size, or shape right now. And a positive body image helps you; bashing your body does not.
Why wait to take better care of yourself or to work on being happier and healthier until you reach a certain weight? So consider kick-starting this week on a high note: Pick three things you’ve been waiting to do right now. Whether you’re waiting to do something until you fall in love with your body or until you’re thinner – whatever the reason – take a sheet of paper this instant and list your three things. Your list might include:
- Accept myself as I truly am
- Pamper myself more often
- Move my body and enjoy it
- Be more adventurous (I used to think being thin would alleviate my anxiety; it just fueled and refueled it. I realized that I can work on having more fun without weight loss. It’s not a revolutionary epiphany but it’s a critical one!)
- Have a healthy relationship with food
- Look for a new job
If your list is a bit broad, make the goals more specific and concrete. How can you accept yourself? For instance, you might start working through somebody’s image tips on Weightless or other blogs. How can you move your body? You might start experimenting with various types of physical activities to find out what you truly enjoy. If you want to work on reducing emotional eating or yo-yo dieting, dig deeper and seek sources that help you do that. Maybe see a therapist who specializes in disordered eating. These goals are the real goals that lead to a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Today’s favorite post. Ashley’s three-part interview with body image expert Sandra Kumskov at Nourishing the Soul (part 1, part 2, part 3), is one of my favorites! It’s a blog about body image, disordered eating, and media literacy.
What have you been waiting to do? What are your three goals? What’s stopped you from working toward these goals?