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Self-Esteem and Body Image

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:19am

I’m fat. I’m too skinny. I’d be happy if I were taller, shorter, had curly hair, straight hair, a smaller nose, bigger muscles, longer legs.

Do any of these statements sound familiar? Are you used to putting yourself down? If so, you’re not alone. As a weight loss surgery patient, you’re going through a ton of changes in your body. And as your body changes, so does your image of yourself. Lots of people have trouble adjusting, and this can affect their self-esteem.

Why Are Self-Esteem and Body Image Important?

Self-esteem is all about how much people value themselves, the pride they feel in themselves, and how worthwhile they feel. Self-esteem is the opinion and reputation you have of yourself. Self-esteem is important because feeling good about yourself can affect how you act. A person who has high self-esteem will make healthy choices in their food, fitness, and life in general, is more in control of his or her behavior, and will enjoy life more.

Body image is how a person feels about his or her own physical appearance. For many people, body image can be closely linked to self-esteem.

What Influences a Person’s Self-Esteem?

Transition from Overweight/Morbidly Obese to Losing Weight

Some of us struggle with self-esteem because after losing weight, the body goes through many changes. These changes, combined with a natural desire to feel accepted, mean it can be tempting for us to compare ourselves to others. We may compare ourselves to the people around us or to actors and celebs we see on TV, in movies, or in magazines. But it’s impossible to compare ourselves to others because the changes that come with losing weight are different for everyone.

Outside Influences

Family life can sometimes influence a person’s self-esteem. Some parents spend more time criticizing their children and the way they look than praising them. We carry this forward into our adulthood. This criticism may reduce a person’s ability to develop good self-esteem.

People may also experience negative comments about the way they look from others. Sometimes, by losing weight, it can threaten others’ image and role in the relationship with us.

Healthy Self-Esteem

If you have a positive body image, you probably like and accept yourself the way you are. This healthy attitude allows you to explore other aspects of your life, achieving your goals and reaching your dreams. Challenge yourself physically and mentally because developing these parts of yourself can help boost your self-esteem.

A positive, optimistic attitude can help people develop strong self-esteem. For example, saying, “Hey, I’m human,” instead of “Wow, I’m such a loser,” when you’ve made a mistake. Or not blaming others when things don’t go as expected.

Knowing what makes you happy and how to meet your goals can help you feel capable, strong, and in control of your life. A positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle (such as exercising and eating right) are a great combination for building good self-esteem.

Tips for Improving Your Body Image

Some people think they need to change how they look or act to feel good about themselves. But actually all you need to do is change the way you see your body and how you think about yourself.

The first thing to do is recognize that your body is your own, no matter what shape, size, or color it comes in. But it is no one’s business but your own what your body is like — ultimately, you have to be happy with yourself.

Next, identify which aspects of your appearance you can realistically change and which you can’t. Everyone (even the most perfect-seeming celebrities) have things about themselves that they can’t change and need to accept — like their height, for example, or their shoe size.

If there are things about yourself that you want to change and can (such as how fit you are), do this by making goals for yourself. For example, if you want to get fit, make a plan to exercise every day and eat nutritious foods. Then keep track of your progress until you reach your goal. Meeting a challenge you set for yourself is a fantastic way to boost self-esteem!

When you hear negative comments coming from within yourself, tell yourself to stop. Try building your self-esteem by giving yourself three compliments every day. While you’re at it, every evening list three things in your day that you feel good about and gave you pleasure. It can be anything from the way the sun felt on your face, the sound of your favorite band, or the way someone laughed at your jokes. By focusing on the good things you do and the positive aspects of your life, you can change how you feel about yourself.

As you fill your life with healthy self-esteem, your body image will adjust too. When your life is filled with positive things that you enjoy, bring you joy and are passionate about, you no longer will need to turn to emotional eating to fill that void in your life.

Believe In Yourself,
Cathy, CLC
Certified Life Coach, Weight Loss Surgery Coach
Back on Track Facilitator

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