From mainstream culture to health care, emphasizing weight loss as a health solution remains pervasive. Can it co-exist for those who are working towards body acceptance?
BY: EMILY FONNESBECK, RD, CD, CLT
For better or for worse, weight has been ingrained in our society as the primary metric of health. This has no doubt led to diet culture obsession, where the pursuit of weight loss is the norm.
However, for those who are trying to achieve body positivity, there is a constant internal tug-of-war between actively pursuing weight loss and claiming body positivity.
It’s why taking a weight-neutral stance is needed rather than focusing on weight loss. If your body changes as a result of listening, respecting, and taking care of it without any judgment of good or bad, then it does.
If it doesn’t, it is no less deserving of being listened to, respected, and taken care of.
But don’t take my word for it, as research points to the negative impact that seeking to manipulating your weight can have, putting you at higher risk for:
- Disordered eating
- Food anxiety
- Depressive symptoms
- Greater preoccupation with food and body image
- Lower metabolism
- Digestive issues
- Disconnection from the body and it’s intuitive signals
- Increased cravings
- Withdrawal from social settings
- Erosion of self-trust and self-efficacy
On the other hand, aiming to connect, listen to and respect your body (while putting weight and body shape concerns on the back burner) tend to do the opposite:
- Improvement in eating patterns with a noted decrease in disordered eating symptoms
- Less cravings
- More energy (both physical and mental energy!)
- Less preoccupation with food
- A rebound in metabolism
- More regular metabolic function (including sleep, digestion, hormonal balance)
- Greater self-trust
- Resiliency and confidence (with food and otherwise!) and the opportunity for your body to find it’s natural weight.
That sounds WAY more positive, don’t you think?
The good news is that health can be found at your natural weight, no matter what it is, and has much more to do with how you care for your body than what size it is. The only thing between you and reality is the idea of what things should be.
You can live from day-to-day with less body preoccupation. It may not be a realistic goal to love, or even like, your body – at least at first. By deciding to put your time and energy into things you find meaningful, enjoyable and important, you give less time and attention to the size or shape of your body.
Start by aiming for body respect or weight-neutrality, rather than loving or even liking your body. Try to focus less on appearance and more on how your body is functioning and feeling.
Begin expressing gratitude for what it can do, and practicing more self-compassion and positive self-talk. Decrease body checking, spend less time in front of the mirror, or detox your media messages if that’s what you need.
Keep working at it, because these small steps forward are exactly how you will shift your mindset for the better.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: BROOKE CAGLE
Emily Fonnesbeck, RD, CD, CLT is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Saint George, Utah. Instead of creating unnecessary restrictions, Emily focuses on helping individuals become confident and in charge of their own well-being through Intuitive Eating and Mindful Living. She is a strong believer and advocate for helping people become capable individuals who are confident in taking care of themselves. Make a visit and read more from Emily.