100 lb. Club - Self-Esteem and Weight: The Positive "Weigh"




f(x)
01-01-2006, 07:02 AM
This is a good article I found on the Accuweather website



Self-Esteem and Weight: The Positive "Weigh"

Carol Johnson, MA

I'm sure that you've seen scores of testimonials from people who are considered "success stories" in the weight loss arena. A typical success story goes something like this:

"Before I lost weight on the Pounds-B-Gone program, I was depressed, hated myself, had no self-confidence, and didn't want to leave the house. But now that I've lost weight, my entire life has changed! I married a prince, won a beauty pageant, started my own company and have more self-confidence than I know what to do with. Thanks, Pounds-B-Gone!"

Clearly, these people had no life before they lost weight. The question is, why not? What is there about some excess pounds that makes people feel as though they are complete failures and can't have a real life until they achieve a goal weight on a chart? The problem is that we use weight to measure so much more than just weight. We use it as a measure of character, self-respect, self-discipline -- indeed, our very moral fiber. Weight has taken on all sorts of meanings, and it's time we relegated it to its proper place - a measure of how many pounds our bodies weigh, nothing more, nothing less.

But what's wrong with the "I'm so ugly and awful until I lose weight" approach? Doesn't it motivate people to shed pounds? It may, in some cases, but the approach is laden with pitfalls and problems:



It's inaccurate! What you weigh has nothing to do with your character. If you read the research, you'll discover that your weight is based on a variety of biological and physiological factors, many of which you had nothing to do with. Researchers will tell you that many of these factors are, as yet, poorly understood. So why blame yourself?


It does not provide a sturdy foundation. A negative self-image is a very shaky foundation upon which to build a healthy lifestyle and can easily crumble under the pressure of negative thoughts.


It assumes you will never regain any of the weight you lose (and, unfortunately, studies show that the majority of people will end up regaining at least some of the weight they lost). If this happens to you, will you have to revert to the "self-loathing" mode?


This isn't to say you shouldn't embark on a weight management program. Studies show that losing even 10 percent of your weight can result in significant improvements in your health. However, if you begin with a high regard for yourself as a person, you will have a much better chance for long-term success. People who like themselves are much more likely to want to take good care of themselves. Because they respect and value who they are, they are motivated to take care of their bodies.

The question that always comes next is: "That's all well and good, but how can I have high self-esteem when I'm bombarded daily with messages that imply that self-esteem and a large body just don't go together?" Here are some suggestions:



First and foremost, tell yourself that you are a person of value even if you never lose another pound.


Get the facts. There are a lot of myths out there about size and weight. What the research really says and what the public believes are two entirely different things (I have tried to summarize this research in my book, Self-Esteem Comes In All Sizes. Please see our Recommended Reading selections).


Don't put your life on hold until you lose weight. Don't wait until you lose x number of pounds to buy attractive clothes, to take that trip, to further your education, to join a club. The problem with putting all these things on hold is that you're left with little else to do but think about what you'll be eating for your next meal. It actually increases your preoccupation with food.


Don't assume that you can't look good until you lose weight. When I realized my weight didn't make me inferior on the inside, I realized it didn't make me inferior on the outside either. So I bought a bunch of jazzy, pizzazzy-looking clothes in the size I wear now, had my hair highlighted, bought some red lipstick and big earrings. And I thought I looked pretty darn good - and so did a lot of other people!


Focus on the positives. You are so much more than just your weight. Make a list of your positive qualities, talents, and accomplishments. Your weight will pale in comparison.


Don't make weight loss your only goal. As soon as a few weeks go by and you haven't lost a pound, or you hit a plateau, you'll be depressed. Focus instead on the numbers that really matter - like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. Do you feel better? Do you have more energy?


Move! Studies show that people who exercise regularly generally have better self-esteem. Find something you enjoy doing and stick to it.


Remember that no one starts from zero. Everyone is already doing many healthy things for themselves. Sure, there's always room for improvement, but look upon it as adding to the good things you already do.


When you find that your weight is holding you back from doing something you'd like to do, ask yourself this question: "Why can't I do it now?" There is almost nothing you have to be thin to do. So don't wait on your weight - do these things now!



Some years ago, I attended a group weight loss program. Shortly before the Fourth of July, the group leader got out a flip chart and a magic marker and asked us to make a list of all the freedoms we lose when we are "overweight." I rebelled that evening. I said, "I may want to lose some weight, but I haven't lost any freedoms! I live a full and satisfying life. I don't feel as though my weight has denied me any freedoms. Why would we want to do such a negative thing?" I never went back. Why would I want to go somewhere on a weekly basis where I was encouraged to feel badly about myself - and pay them money to do it? I continued to carve out a healthy lifestyle for myself, but I did it with a positive rather than a negative frame of mind.

This experience led me to create an organization called Largely Positive, "the positive approach to weight management." Our goal is to help larger people realize that their weight is not a measure of their self-worth. We encourage them to base their weight management efforts on methods supported by research, not the latest fad diet or scam - and, most importantly, to begin liking themselves on day one of their weight management program, not at the end.


coley144
01-01-2006, 09:52 AM
Thanks for posting this. I totally agree with it.

Charles78
01-01-2006, 10:57 AM
I have very mixed feelings about this. Does being over weight make you a bad person? No, of course not. I mean, I will concede that if you are talking about being mildly obese with little impact on your mobility or your health - sure. I am sorry, but for me at almost 600 pounds, I was never going to be "happy" or "content" with myself with the weight crushing my health, keeping me from physically being able to run and play with my daughter.

This is really a tough one for me. I don't think that your weight is a measure of your character. I totally reject that outlook that a lot of people have. There are a million reasons why people become obese. The good news is we don't have to accept that. We, each of us has the power to make a change in our lives that is healthy and positive. While I agree that you have to let go of self hate, when I read articles like the above it makes me feel like someone is telling me - it's OK Charles, you can be size 74 pants, you can be 600 pounds just love yourself for who you are... it is OK. I can't speak for anyone else, but it is not OK for me anymore. I refuse to live out the rest of my life obese. I refuse to limit the things I can do with my daughter, with my life to keep and maintain an unhealthy relationship with food.

Freedoms I lost at 600 pounds


Could not ride in an airplane, would not fit in the seat
Could not walk over 50 feet
Could not walk up 1 flight of stairs
Freedom from pain, back, knees
Freedom from preventable diseases - high blood pressure, pre-diabetes
Freedom to run an play with my daughter - telling her, sorry Daddy has to sit in this chair I can't do that - I am NEVER having that happen to me or her again
Freedom from ridicule
Freedom to buy clothes at a regular store and not have to pay 3 times the price for everything I bought
I could list a million and one things that I could not do at 600 pounds - not would not do COULD not physically do.

I don't claim to have all the answers LOL not by a long shot and what I typed is only in my own humble opinion. I am not trying to tell anyone what to think or how to feel - just expressing what I feel when I read stories like that. LOL I could be way over reacting, but it is sure how they make me feel.

I wish everyone the very best and Happy New Year!


sabriena
01-01-2006, 10:57 AM
Good article :) Thanks for sharing it... I agree that people on infomercials and stuff usually do say they had no lives while they were overweight. But, why!? I love myself now.. but hate the weight :) I do wish society didn't put so much on how people looked and weighed though. I think that's where a lot of people get their thoughts from.

lucky
01-01-2006, 11:57 AM
Hmmm, I agree with what the author says as a concept - but I don't think it necessarily plays out like in reality.

Of course I agree that being fat doesn't make you a bad person. But, I don't think I had low self esteem because I was fat. I think I was fat because I had low self esteem to begin with. Still, it would be irresponsible for me to assume that everyone who is overweight has that in common with me. Which leads me to my problem with the weight loss industry in general (not just kooky infomercial types but even authors with the best of intentions). We are all individuals and have lived different lives. There is any number of reasons that a person might be overweight and none of them may be shared by the obese person standing next to them. There just isn't a catch all except to say that obesity is caused by eating too much and moving to little. The motivators behind that behavior are as varied as we are.

Her positive approach may work for some people. Still, I think it is irresponsible to make it seem that the only cons to being overweight are health related. There most certainly are physical restraints caused by obesity. At 214 pounds I could NOT lead a full life. I couldn't get on the floor and play with my kids, I couldn't take them on adventures hiking in the woods, I couldn't play chase with them. Oh, they adored me anyway and that was fullfilling to and extent. But I wanted more - for them and for me.

But there is more. It is one thing to dress nicely and carry your weight well. I think I did both for much of the time that I was overweight. I was capable of recognizing when I looked good - for my size. But, the truth is, that I always knew I could look BETTER.

So, I guess I agree with the article in terms of approaching weight loss with a postive attitude. I do believe that it is important to feel you are a good enough person to deserve a healthy life. I just don't think that pretending being overweight isn't physically and emotionally inhibiting is necessarily positive.

satylite
01-01-2006, 12:53 PM
I do believe that it is important to feel you are a good enough person to deserve a healthy life. I just don't think that pretending being overweight isn't physically and emotionally inhibiting is necessarily positive.

I completely agree with this. While the article describes a really great theory, it doesn't work so much for me in practice.

While my weight certainly doesn't have anything to do with my character or moral stature (you can be a phenomenal fat human being and you can be a really crappy skinny person), it certainly does limit my life in the ways Charles described. And that's not defeatest or self effacing, it's simply practical -- and in many cases with his list, medical fact.

Shortly before the Fourth of July, the group leader got out a flip chart and a magic marker and asked us to make a list of all the freedoms we lose when we are "overweight." I rebelled that evening. I said, "I may want to lose some weight, but I haven't lost any freedoms! I live a full and satisfying life. I don't feel as though my weight has denied me any freedoms.

Again, while I would love to agree with this, but I find it overblown and faux optimistic. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fatalist here, but the simple fact of the matter is that for someone who's very overweight, there ARE certain freedoms which are lost (airplane seats and amusement parks come immediately to mind). Let's face it, I could have the greatest self esteem in the entire world, dress well, and think I'm hotter than ****, but at 250 or 300 lbs. probably still be unable to ride a rollercoaster. While I respect the author's positive outlook, there's a disconnect between it and simple engineering and logistics.

When all is said and done, I think it's important not to beat ourselves up, to allow ourselves to feel as beautiful as we can (inside and out), know we're good people, and let the rest come as we work to achieve our goals.

DollyR
01-01-2006, 07:13 PM
Before I begin I want to say I agree there are some physical limitations that come from being overweight (Example: as much as I fly I hate the fact I am the one who overlaps the seat to the person next to me)......

But the article made me think about what is going on in my life right now. My life is great. I live in a beautiful apartment overlooking the river. I have a wonderful boyfriend who says he loves me for me. I make good money. I have traveled and continue to travel to many places in Asia. My last trip was to Bali where there were as many larger size people than small people. It just goes on.

When I moved here I weighed about 20 pounds less than I do currently and many people found me exotic to look at. LOL Can you believe it! I have blonde hair and big round eyes. I got a lot of stares and comments from locals about how much they liked my skin etc.... I do however live in the land of the skinny people. And Yes .....there are moments when I feel like Jabba the Hut walking through a crowd of skinny people but I still like me.
It began when I turned 38 and my Dad died. I looked back on all the things he had done and how much he loved life. I decided I wanted to live well into my 80's or 90's so I could look back with the same pride.

That is the key for me. I want to continue to live and enjoy life and my health has come into play. I am facing some serious consequences.

Beating yourself up and getting down on yourself is very easy to do but life is so much better if you don't. It is however I think a hard thing for an overweight person to develop high self esteem. Everywhere we look they show us the opposite. I had some pretty dark moments in my 30's and I was 40 pounds less than I am now. You really have to concentrate on self esteem. It comes in many forms. Either by losing weight, reflecting on your life or whatever else will trigger it for you.