The absolute best way to lose weight and get healthy is by being body positive. In fact, not being body positive will stall your weight loss and new healthy behaviors.
This is why it’s important to shift your mindset, and not try to lose weight from a place of self-hate, but rather from a place of self-love.
What is body positivity?
According to wikipedia:
Body positivity is a social movement focused on empowering individuals regardless of their physical weight or size, while also challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body. The movement advocates the acceptance of all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race, or appearance.
However, there’s a difference between the body positive movement, and actually practicing body positivity.
The body positivity movement is closely related with the fat acceptance movement. Both movements are great in that they have highlighted the effects of weight stigma, fat shaming, and fight against that while supporting body confidence.
However, at the extreme ends of both movements, there’s also fight against “diet culture” as well as any attempt to lose weight.
In fact, some proponents of these movements (“fat activists”) claim that overweight and obesity have no effect on health. That claim is simply not true. Fat, especially the one centered around your waist, is increasing your health risks, from fatty liver disease to ovarian cancer caused by the excess estrogen produced by the excess fat cells. Excess weight in general additionally strains your joints.
That said, a poor body image that makes you hate yourself and hence want to change your body size no matter what is an attitude that can lead to eating disorders, binge eating, and extreme body dissatisfaction.
We should be able to do the best for our body, without discriminating against fat people, and without falling into lies that overweight and obesity do not increase health risks.
On a personal level, like I said in the beginning, being body positive while losing weight will increase your self-esteem, and tremendously increase your chances of success and will help you create healthy habits.
Now before we move on, let’s address the elephant in the room:
Can you be body positive and want to lose weight?
Let’s first talk about can you even be body positive when you want to lose weight? Some people think we can’t, some people think that you just have to love yourself exactly as you are and that wanting to make any changes at all means you don’t love yourself.
And I completely disagree with that. Body positive is being kind to yourself and being, and wanting the best for your body. And there are some people out there who say that, let’s say having excess fat makes no difference when it comes to your health. But that is not true.
Like I said, excess fat is not healthy, especially when it’s centered around your waist (check out your waist to hip ratio). The more fat you have, the higher your risks go. And you will be seeing aches and pains and strains from that as time goes by.
So wanting to lose weight and improve the quality of your life, that is an act of self care. Some people think of self care as, let’s say, taking a bath or some other people think of self care as having a glass of wine. Lose weight is self care. Wanting to reach a healthy weight is self-care.
Of course, not all weight loss programs are self-care, because it can be punishment, and we’re actually going to talk about it in the five ways, so now that I’ve cleared that up, let me get started.
5 ways to be body positive while losing weight
1. Don’t project negative qualities to a fat person and positive ones to thin person.
For instance, many people think that fat people are lazy. Even fat people might feel like this is true about them. They might see themselves as lazy and thin people are not lazy. Well, you have to recognize that this is a bias. Now whether you are lazy or not lazy has nothing to do with your weight.
It really hasn’t. It’s just a bias. And that’s why it can also be frustrating many times. So let’s say if you’re heavier and you catch yourself berating yourself as lazy, this is usually never the problem. And we actually go through that in the Academy with my clients whenever they say, oh, I should have had more willpower or I just didn’t feel like doing it. When you dig deep, it’s usually not laziness. It’s something else.
That’s a process we do in coaching. But I really want you to have this very clear in your head that it’s bias, it’s only bias. And by keeping up with this bias, you also prevent yourself from finding the actual causes behind the things you’re looking for.
So if you’re wondering why you didn’t go for a walk, maybe laziness is not the reason and likely it is not the reason. Maybe it’s something else. But if you think it’s laziness, it’s going to prevent you from actually finding the real cause.
And also it’s a bias, especially when you’re projecting to other people for whom you know nothing about other than whether they look slim or big to you. And don’t let me even get started with people who, let’s say, had overweight or obesity since they were kids and now they’re adults and they still have that. It’s clearly not because of their efforts, or non-efforts. It’s it was not their fault that they gained weight when they were little. OK, because when you’re a kid, it’s not your fault if you gain weight. So you don’t know their background history.
2. Don’t project positive qualities of fat people and negative ones to thin people.
So just like you may think, that let’s say fat people are lazy and thin people are not lazy, you might do the opposite. You might be thinking that let’s say fat people can enjoy and live life while thin people are miserable.
And many people, when they’re trying to lose weight, they have this bias in their heads, and that their identity, someone who has excess fat, is someone who can go out and live life and enjoy, and where they are moving towards to might be a place where they think they’re going to be miserable or they will just not be able to enjoy life just as much.
OK, this is, again, a bias. It’s an assumption you’re making. It’s not even true. And it’s funny, especially when I encounter this with my clients, because we go in and dispel the myth that because they are increasing their quality of life and they are enjoying the things they are doing to become slimmer and get rid of the excess fat and also improve their habits, which is what we’re doing in the Habits Academy. So they realize that this misconception they had was just that, a misconception.
Any projecting of any qualities to fat or thin people should be examined: is it really true or is it just an assumption?
3. Obesity is not a choice.
So many people think that obesity is a matter of personal responsibility, OK? It was your choice. It was your overeating, your lack of exercise, and that’s why you gained weight. But that is not actually true. Or at least there is a kernel of truth, which is why it’s so believable. But that is not the full picture, which is why thinking that obesity is a choice, is misleading, and hence making everything your personal fault, is just not true.
What happens here is the effect of the environment. And you got to understand this. If you were the exact same person born, 100 years ago you would have had a different set of problems and chances are overweight and obesity would not be one of them. Why? Because the environment was different. It had different food cues. You didn’t have the food industry engineering foods that make you overeat, or being sedentary and lack of physical activity being the norm.
And I want you to really understand this, because I see some of my clients, they are very hard on their previous selves, meaning before they started with the program, like they might be thinking, oh, I was trying to diet for all these years and I wasn’t doing really well, blah, blah.
And they think that it was, that they didn’t do something well, they think it was their fault. First of all, you have the effect of the environment and nobody talks about that. It’s very rare to see people talking about what the environment is doing to you, let alone to teach you how to create the habits to shield yourself from this environment. And at the same time, you have all these fads around us and hype. It’s very misleading for a single person, for the average person, to understand what they really should be doing to lose weight.
And I know it might sound simple. Oh, people say eat less, exercise more. That’s actually not even true. At Fitness Reloaded we’re eating more not less because that’s deprivation. Don’t want to do that. Deprivation is a a bad strategy, it is a failing strategy when it comes to losing a lot of weight. But that’s what many people think, at the very least. And at the very least, it sounds simple, but it’s not simple in execution. Go watch the video about the effect of the environment, you have to understand this first.
4. Take care of your appearance right now. Don’t wait for later for when you’ve lost the weight.
OK, so you want to be body positive, you’re going to go wear nice clothes right now. Colorful clothes, flattering clothes. You’re going to put on some jewelry, maybe some makeup, whatever makes you feel good about yourself.
Don’t wait until you’re thirty pounds, fifty pounds, one hundred pounds lighter, for you to start taking care of your appearance. Be kind to yourself. Look yourself in the mirror. Take care of this body that you have. Be nice to your body. It’s part of being nice to your body to take care of your appearance. How about that. Don’t wait for later.
5. Focus on improving your quality of life. Don’t make a quality of life worse in order to achieve an outcome, meaning in order to lose weight.
This is critically important because many people see weight loss as punishment. I’m going to punish myself by eating only salad and by exercising two hours a day. This way, I’m going to lose weight. And that is not body positivity. Body positivity is improving the quality of your life. OK, and you start improving the quality of your life right now, not after you’ve lost the weight, then I’m going to improve my quality of life. No, you start improving your quality of life right now.
And the behaviors you do to lose weight should be building that quality of life up. For example, in the Academy, you may start walking more, and being active makes you feel good. It’s a good, healthy, happy that will help you live longer. By the way, it also helps with weight loss. You will be changing your eating patterns, OK, not just for the short term so that you lose some weight. No, that’s how you’re going to be eating starting now and for the rest of your life.
And it’s a healthy eating pattern that makes people feel good. So after they build it up, little by little, they build it up, and then if, let’s say they have to go travel and then they’re subjected to the effects of the environment, that does not have the high fiber, high volume foods that we’re eating like, oh, it didn’t feel good. I was just eating whatever when I went to travel and I didn’t feel good. I didn’t feel good.
So you improve the quality of your life starting now, and if you don’t know how to lose weight by improving the quality of life, OK, don’t go start a punishing restrictive diet. Figure that part out first.
Sign up for Fitness Reloaded. We can help you with that, this is exactly what we’re doing, but this is really what weight loss is about is taking care of your body, OK, wanting the best for yourself, for your health, for your energy levels, OK for your confidence, and this is how you end up living more of your life, not hiding yourself.
So I hope you enjoyed this video. And I’m curious to know which one of the five ways do you think is more relevant to you? So how are you going to be more body positive right now as you’re losing weight?