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Love yourself to weight loss

Posted Aug 14 2009 6:33pm
I watched this video recently (click on the link above) and although a little rambling (it goes on for ten minutes) it was very thought-provoking. The lady speaking is basically saying that many obese people believe that when we lose weight, when we are that fit, healthy person we crave to be, only then will we love ourselves. Our self-esteem will be higher, we will have more self-confidence and be happy in our bodies. However, she believes that it should be the other way around. She begins by asking the fundamental question - how do we begin the process of weight loss. I don't think she means, in the sense of the practicalities of eating, exercise, and so on, but in terms of the psychological and/or emotional drivers to make the decision to lose weight in the first place.

Her argument is that we need to learn to love ourselves first. We need to like our bodies, our minds and our personalities now. Then and only then, will we be in a position to be able to manage our food intake properly and in a sustainable way. The argument goes like this: If we love ourselves, then why would we put food into our mouths that we know is harmful to our bodies? If we love ourselves, are we not much more likely to want to reward our bodies with good quality, healthy, nutritious food?

I have come across this line of thinking before - in a faith-based Christian book called 'Free to be Slim'. This focusses on the idea that if God loves us and thinks the world of us, then who are we to think badly of ourselves. If instead, we align ourselves with God's thinking of us - that we are wonderful human beings, then we would want to 'bless' our bodies through the healthy food choices that we put into it.

I can see the logic in these arguments and they do make some sense. Certainly when I was a runner many years ago I lost a lot of weight. Partly this was simply because of the amount of energy I was burning in the running, but partly it was because my head, well, sort of changed - as far as food choices were concerned. I simply didn't crave fatty, sugary, high calorie foods any more. My body was lean and mean and I was full of self-confidence, and if anything, I craved salads, fresh vegetables and fruit, lean fish and so on. There was no effort on my part to stop eating bad foods - it just came naturally out of an inate desire to 'do good' for my body.

I'm not sure where this leaves me now. Like I said, I see some sense in the argument. However, I also know that since I have lost loads of weight my self esteem and confidence have blossomed. I now delight to buy clothes and have noticed my clothes are getting brighter in colour - I no longer feel the need to hide away and 'camouflage' myself.

So maybe both are true. If we love ourselves we are more likely to make good food choices than if we don't. But also, if we make the right food choices, driven by some other 'power', then we will also come to love ourselves more.

Cor! I don't do philosophy very often. It's taxing on the ol' brain innit?
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