Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Losing Weight May Not Improve Your Self Image

Losing Weight May Not Improve Your Self-Image
Michele Benza

Surprised? Well, I am here to set the record straight! A few months ago I was an invited guest on The Eating Free Internet Talk Radio show (http://tinyurl.com/44uvquh). Together with hosts Manuel and Sarah, we have given the matter much discussion, and we have come to the conclusion that losing weight may not improve self-image.

Think about it: how many people embark on a weight loss journey hoping to boost their self-image? And how many reach their goals only to find that they still have the same beliefs about their image and self-worth? So what is a person to do? Psychotherapist Jeff Benson explains the psychological component of self-image and what you can do to boost yours.

He says that the main reason why most overweight people want to loose the weight is because they want to improve their self-image. However, many of those who have dropped the weight and decreased their clothes size, sometimes even by several sizes, still have a difficult time improving their self-image.  Why? Because the mindset does not match the body. 

After the weight loss and the drop in sizes they sometimes still see a ‘heavy’ person in the mirror although they are now thin. People that have lost the weight are sometimes disconnected with reality. Where is it coming from? Perhaps during childhood, they may have adopted inaccurate ideas and perceptions from family and friends, and therefore they think that is what they still are ‘a fat kid.’ This belief will stay with them even after the weight loss and all the hard work it takes to attain their new figure. They think that way because inside they still believe they are fat even after they have lost the weight. This is what’s called ‘self-image’ and this self-image reflects on their self-esteem.

To take action and change the perception that they have of themselves, they need to shift their thinking. Benson encourages us to modify these beliefs with the following steps:

Read self-help books
Be pro-active and notice negative thoughts, and change thinking
Draw a picture of yourself before and after the weight loss
Draw a picture of how you believe people see you now
Use mantras all over the house: ‘I have lost that many pounds’
Display pictures of yourself before and after the weight loss

These tips will help you to shift your thinking because after all, it is not what the scale says, but it is about what their mind tells you.

Once the self-image has been improved and you can see yourself for who you really are, your self-esteem and self-image will increase as well.
When the psychological aspect of the weight loss is resolved it becomes easy to update your physical appearance. Trying on new clothes is invigorating and exciting. A new color or style in your wardrobe is an adventure, and your favorites are not the clothes that make you feel “comfortable” but the ones that you truly feel beautiful in. 

My first recommendation to someone who has lost weight and thus dropped in sizes is to do a clean out of the wardrobe and get rid of the pieces that have become too large. Keeping the ‘large’ outfits is an open invitation for pounds to return. Getting rid of the ‘large’ outfits is an enticement to continue the discipline of loosing weight.

When the ‘fat’ kid who is now the ‘slim’ kid will wear well-fitted, appropriate clothing, I can assure you that the self-worth will take a huge step forward.

I have said many times before and will repeat it again: No matter what the scale says, no matter the size tag in our garments, we are all beautiful. We all have great features that begged to be enhanced; we all have flaws that need to be camouflaged. At that is what image coaching can do for you.

A la prochaine,

Michele Benza
Your Personal Image Coach
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