I often speak to or read information from other health/wellness experts. The most informative material regularily comes from their patients real life problems and answers from these experts. I will put some of these problems/solutions that I am impressed with in my blog for those that may be able to relate.
Dear Dr. Dorie: I have gained a large amount of weight over the past year, and I feel horrible about how I look. The worse I feel, the more I tend to eat. How can I turn things around? – Mirror, Mirror
Dear Mirror, Mirror: There is definitely a relationship between self-image and eating. If a person does not like how they look, they either eat too little in efforts to control weight or consume too much due to feelings of depression and frustration. To contrast, if a person feels good about themselves, they tend to be more in tune with their body’s needs and take better care of themselves. Their eating is more in balance, without patterns of restriction or overindulgence.
One of my favorite sayings is, ‘Don’t weigh your self-esteem!’ Even though you have gained weight, the key is to be able to feel good about yourself, right now. If you improve your self-image, your mood will also improve and you should notice a decrease in emotional eating patterns. Without the excess calories from your emotional eating, your weight will begin to regulate itself.
Because our society places great emphasis on looks, it can be difficult to feel good about yourself if you don’t measure up to the ‘ideal beauty standard.’ The average female model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds; however, the average American woman is 5’4″ tall and weights 144 pounds. Look around you today and notice the diversity in height, age, skin color, hair style, and body shape. Forget the ‘ideal’ and learn to appreciate the uniqueness that is you.
You can improve your view of yourself by finding positives about your body on which you can focus. Identify several elements that you feel good about right now, such as your smile, your eyes, your hair, or your hands. When you find yourself being critical of your image, shift your focus to the elements about yourself that you can feel good about.
You can also improve your attitude about your ‘problem areas.’ When you think about the parts of your body that you dislike the most, consider their function rather than their looks. For example, you can develop a positive attitude about your thighs by telling yourself, ‘My legs are what carry my throughout my day. They allow me to stand, walk, and climb.’ Focus on function rather than size.
Having a positive self-image is essential for overall well-being. Reframe your view of yourself and notice the difference it makes in your whole way of being.
© 2006 Dr. Dorie McCubbrey, all rights reserved. As one of America’s leading experts on obesity and eating disorders