How Culture Impacts Body Image
Once weight was necessary for survival; now it’s a risk factor for disease. In the past, our culture valued the abundantly round figure as an ideal symbol of fertility for women and of wealth for men. Now, it’s a different model – one that’s both thin and athletic. But for most of us, this ideal body is not realistic or healthful. When it comes to weight, fashion and the media set expectations for women that are impossible to achieve, unhealthy and harmful to body image.
Remember You Are Not Your Weight
Think of all the things in your life that give you pleasure and make you feel good about yourself:
» Relationships with Others
» Volunteer Activities
» Professional Accomplishments
» Physical Activity/Sports
» Spiritual Endeavors
» Healthy Eating
» Personal Hobbies
Stopping to consider all these other ways to measure your happiness helps keep your weight in perspective. Maintaining a (realistic for you) goal weight is a priority – just as all the other important areas of your life are priorities. Be patient – it may take time to undo the habit of making everything about weight, but keep returning to your list. The more you do, you’ll find that all these things represent your whole “pie” – a healthy, balanced lifestyle you can sustain for the long term.
Don’t Get Hooked by the Number
What if your weight settles in at three pounds more than your goal? For some, this signals the difference between success and failure. The trouble with this all-or-nothing thinking is that it maximizes the value of a single number, and minimizes the worth of all your healthy changes in eating, activity and body composition. Take a tally of all your positive changes and see if today’s weight is not just good “enough,” but great!
Scan Your Body for “Phantom Fat”
Do you still feel heavy even though you’ve lost the weight? Whether you have lost 10 or more than 50 pounds, you may be mentally holding onto that weight. Like amputees who know they lost a limb but still feel its presence, people can still believe their bodies are unchanged. They may focus on a single area of their body, like their stomach or hips, or they may reject their whole body for the potential to regain the weight. A good question to ask is: Am I criticizing my body or am I celebrating my successes?