Trying to love yourself while you lose weight seems a bit counterintuitive. After all, you’re working hard to change your body, so that must mean you don’t love it the way it is, right? Wanting to get healthy and accepting the body you have today don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Start by thinking of your weight within the context of your overall wellbeing. That means widening your focus to encompass more than just the numbers on the scale, the way your jeans fit and yes, even what you see in the mirror. Embarking on a healthy weight loss program should inspire you, energize you and make you feel proud of yourself. It also takes time and patience. This can be a tall order for many, but remember—when you begin a weight loss process from a place of self-love and acceptance, you are more likely to set realistic goals and allow for the little setbacks and disappointments that are a common stumbling block for many. Below, you’ll find some suggestions to help you remain positive and true to yourself on your road to reaching a healthy weight.
Treat every day as a new beginning. Start each day by affirming to yourself that you will do the best you can—no matter what happened yesterday. Thinking of every day as an opportunity for a fresh start can help you to avoid getting into the cycle of negative self-talk that causes many people to give up on their weight loss goals early in the process.
Give yourself a compliment once a day. It may sound silly, but it can help encourage self-kindness to come naturally (and limit self-doubt, which can lead to self-loathing). Remembering what you love about yourself puts you in the right mindset to want the best for your body, too.
Look around you. Self-acceptance is a condition of grace and appreciation for the great range of body shapes and sizes. We are all different, and who you are and what you look like is unique. Remember that your weight loss journey is about achieving better health instead of focusing on becoming someone else’s definition of “perfect.”
Reflect on the gifts your body has given you. It propelled you through your half marathon; it gave you two beautiful children. The body that you may be down on has undoubtedly brought you great opportunity and joy. Reveling in those experiences and all that are still in store for you is an important way to love yourself while you lose weight.
Set attainable goals. Aiming to drop a dress size in time for your high school reunion in six days is an easy path to disappointment and self-blaming. Moreover, coming down on yourself in this way can actually contribute to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been shown to increase the amount of belly fat stored by the body, particularly in women. Setting a more attainable goal, such as trying a new exercise class once a week or swapping one sweet treat for a healthier option, is a better way to protect your self-esteem and respect your body’s limits.
Feel the benefits of exercise. You know that exercise is one of the keys to successful weight loss. But what you might not know is that physical activity stimulates feel-good chemicals in the brain that elevate your mood. Research also shows that those who exercise regularly, as part of a weight loss routine, tend to rate their self-esteem levels as higher than those who don’t. If finding the motivation to workout is difficult, enlist a friend to exercise with you. Just as it’s helpful to learn to love yourself while you lose weight, there’s no better cheerleader to take on your journey than someone who wants the best for you and constantly reminds you of how wonderful you are.