Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Acceptance or: How I learned to stop worrying and embrace my shape

If you are unhappy with your weight, raise your hand. 
If you are planning on accomplishing that really cool/fun/amazing thing after you lose 5lbs, raise your hand. 
If you feel ashamed or disgusted by your body, raise your hand. 

Unfortunately, in my line of work, many of my clients would raise their hand if asked these questions. Perhaps it is because I am sensitive on the issue, but I feel that too many of my friends would also raise their hand.
So you can imagine how happy I was to see this article come to light:  Adults with Greater Weight Satisfaction Report More Positive Health Behaviors and Have Better Health Status Regardless of BMI.
This study helps to prove what I (and many other dietitians) have been trying to explain for years- hating your body does not help you to eat healthier or be more active AND loving your body does not perpetuate unhealthy habits. One way to look at it is that negative thoughts or emotions (example: I hate my body) lead to negative outcomes (example: I might as well not even try). Where as positive thoughts and emotions (example: I accept that my natural BMI is 27) lead to positive outcomes (example: I can allow myself to enjoy a few cookies every once in a while but try to enjoy fruit everyday).
Why is "weight dissatisfaction" a problem? It was reported in this study that people with greater weight dissatisfaction reported more dieting, yo-yo dieting, consuming fewer meals, and being less active. All of the these things get in the way of the very thing these people want to do: which is to manage their weight.
One thing that has to be kept in mind when trying to manage your weight is the fact that we have less control over our shape and weight then we think or are led to believe. This over-evaluation of our ability to eat less, exercise more and to control our weight often leads to strict diets or very restrictive eating. Both of which lead down the slippery slope of further disappointment, body shame and even disordered eating.
The Canadian Obesity Network has done a lot of work in the area of "weight bias" or judging someone based on their weight. Weight bias is certainly a contributor to body shame and hopefully with time is something that will decrease with more awareness.


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