Beyond Numbers on a Scale: Tackling the Emotional Aspects of Weight Loss

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Weight loss is about much more than dropping pounds. Just ask anyone who has successfully lost weight, only to find himself or herself fighting those same pounds a few months or years later. Clearly the nuts and bolts of weight loss—eating habits and exercise—require a physical commitment. But lasting, successful weight loss involves a powerful emotional component as well.

Developing a healthy attitude toward our bodies, our weight and food can be quite challenging in today’s society. On one hand, food is a major element of just about every social gathering and occasion. We celebrate with food, fight stress with food, we even mourn with food. On the other hand, the media constantly presents us with impossible body ideals that are unrealistic and even unhealthy for the vast majority of us.

Air brushing, PhotoShop® and other tricks of the trade allow models and celebrities to appear thinner than they are in real life, giving us the perception that we too can and should strive for that appearance. Even Barbie®, the famous doll, is way out of proportion. Where does this leave us? For some it can be an emotional dependence on the wrong kinds of food. For others, a negative image of our bodies and false hope in getting thin without too much effort.

More importantly, now that you’ve made the physical commitment to find a healthier you, how do you make the emotional commitment? A good place to start is by finding your motivation. Are you losing weight to look better? To fit into a swimsuit before an upcoming cruise or reunion? To provide a healthy example to your children? To combat Type 2 diabetes? To save money on your medical bills? The stronger, more meaningful and realistic your motivation, the more likely you’ll succeed with your program. For that reason, those who are motivated by health tend to make lasting changes more often than those who are motivated by magazines or social events.

Weight-loss experts encourage accepting yourself, loving who you are right now, and then finding the motivation to set goals to allow yourself to be the best you can be. If you are one of the millions with “lose weight” on your New Year’s resolutions list this year, resolve something new: resolve to love yourself no matter what, and then plan the lifestyle changes toward a healthier body.


 

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