Hating Your Body Isn’t the Answer

“By choosing healthy over skinny you are choosing self-love over self-judgment.” – Steve Maraboli

When talking about weight loss goals, some professionals (including myself) say that you can’t hate yourself into a smaller body. When you hear this, do you try to come up with arguments in your head?

Maybe “discipline is the only way to reach your goals” or “staying comfortable hasn’t helped me get anywhere.” Discipline and getting out of your comfort zone are both wonderful for self-growth, but they don’t have to come from a place of self-hatred.

If you want to build a better life for yourself, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to add stress.

Let’s talk about 4 weight loss behaviors that may lead to negative outcomes.

1. Eating too Little

Underfueling can take away your motivation to exercise. Food is fuel and calories give you the energy you need to move your body. Cutting calories significantly will make a difference in how you feel.

If you’re lacking in a specific macronutrient it can have a negative effect as well. For example, when you try to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, you’re restricting your body’s preferred source of energy.

Movement is so beneficial to both our physical and mental health. The last thing you want to do is make it harder. If you’re still fixed on weight loss, moving less doesn’t help with that either. This can be completely counterproductive.

2. Body Shaming

When you look in the mirror and say horrible things to yourself, what are the chances you’re going to want to leave the house?

You are beautiful but I know how hard it can be to accept that. You are your biggest critic. When you’re looking at yourself in the mirror every day, there are more chances to pick yourself apart. Those small features that drive you crazy are probably only noticeable to you. If you’re fixed on numbers or pounds, that gives you endless opportunities to tear yourself down.

The more you shame your body for its appearance, the harder it’s going to be to get out and enjoy life. Leaving the house is when we can interact with the people we love, move our bodies, and try new and fun experiences. All of these contribute to great mental health.

3. Strict Food Rules

Dieting can stop you from attending family/friend gatherings. If you’ve been on a fad diet, you probably already understand what I mean. Fad diets have the goal of rapid weight loss and this is not sustainable. The behaviors that are involved are not natural so they can be very difficult to fit into social situations. Here are some examples.

  • Calorie counting – There are a lot of fantastic restaurants out there that don’t provide specific nutrition information for their meals. You can’t control what goes into the dish so you may feel uncomfortable with that unknown. If there is nutrition info available, it’s possible that none of the menu options will fit into your allowance.
  • Low carb – Say you go to an authentic Italian restaurant. What are the chances that they’re going to have a low-carb meal that you will thoroughly enjoy while your friends eat big bowls of pasta? Would depriving yourself at that moment be worth it?
  • Whole 30 – I’m using this as an example because you’re not allowed to have any alcohol. Avoiding alcohol is not bad. Let’s face it, alcohol isn’t fabulous for our bodies but it is the center of many social situations. If you are choosing to avoid alcohol so you can show your body a little extra kindness, you can still 100% go to a bar and socialize. If you are restricting it because there’s a 30-day countdown, you may not trust yourself to go and choose water. A positive mindset is huge.

4. Going to Bed Hungry

All of these negative outcomes affected me during my weight loss experience. Lack of sleep was by far the worst. You can’t fool your body by going to bed hungry. Chances are you’re going to have trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep. Personally, I struggled with staying asleep and I went from waking up around 9:00 AM naturally to waking up around 5:00 AM. Not to mention the nights where I rolled around for hours even earlier (would it be considered early or late at that point?).

When you’re low on sleep you can experience stronger cravings and poor decision-making skills. This can make it even harder to follow food rules, leading to more stress and even less sleep. It’s a spiral that you don’t want to get caught up in.

I also want to mention that if you are underfueling, you’ll likely already feel fatigued throughout the day. Lack of sleep mixed with a lack of food is a recipe for disaster. The extra snack at night or larger portion at dinner is well worth it. Your body is smarter than you give it credit for.

In Conclusion

Health is more than what you eat. Crazy to hear from a dietitian right? But it’s true! Movement, sleep, hydration, and mindfulness all work together to help your body feel and function at its best.

When your weight loss goals affect any of these other areas in a negative way, they can be counterproductive. If you want to do something kind for yourself, it needs to come from a place of self-love. The motivation behind self-love isn’t a clothing size or a specific number on the scale.

You might be wondering “well what if I can’t get to where I want that way?” Then it might not be a goal that’s going to benefit you in the long run. Sometimes weight loss or fitness goals can grow into habits that become harmful. Making yourself miserable every day isn’t worth it, regardless of the goal you have in mind.

Reframe goals that come from hate.

  • If you have a weight loss goal, think about what you are trying to gain from that weight loss. What can you do to work towards that feeling?
  • If you’re trying to feel more confident in your skin you could spend a few extra minutes a day focusing on body image. Your body deserves respect for all it goes through.
  • If you want to feel fit, get some movement in! Building strength doesn’t happen all of the sudden, once you reach your goal weight.

You can work on more than one small goal at once, but it’s also completely okay to take things one step at a time. It’s often less overwhelming and we’re always looking for less stress in the long run.

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