Body-esteem is linked to self-esteem; the worth we assign ourselves. As much as one-third of your self-esteem is related to how positive or negative your body image is. And negative body image is a predictor for weight regain. So developing ways to trade negative, judging thoughts about your weight for positive, affirming ones will not only boost your self-esteem, but also strengthen your weight maintenance success.
How Culture Impacts Healthy Body Image and Self Esteem
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 physical appearance 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 body image 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?
The Connection Between Mental Health & Body Image
Having a negative body image not only affects your self-esteem, but it can also affect your mental health. It is important to feel good about your body because that can lead to better health and well-being for your entire person. People who have low self-esteem and a negative body image commonly suffer from anxiety, depression and OCD.
When people are not proud or comfortable with their bodies they often withdraw from social situations because embarrassment or shame. This leads them to further push themselves away from things they used to love because of poor body image. Understanding the relationship between body dissatisfaction and mental health is crucial. If you are struggling with body image, talk to someone. It is important to be confident and have a positive self-image as it has a large effect on your mental and overall health.
Self Esteem and Body Image Activities
One of the best ways to increase self-esteem and body image is by writing in a self-esteem journal or creating an affirmations worksheet. Writing down affirmations and keeping a journal will help you to keep positive self image thoughts top of mind. Start each day by responding to three positive sentences.
For example, fill out these sentences:
- Something I did well today is...
- I felt good about myself when...
- A positive thing I witnessed...
Completing three sentences a day will help you have more optimistic feelings about your body image and self esteem and will help you get rid of any negative thoughts. Remember, it's okay to ask for help. Many people struggle with body image issues, so you are not alone. The most important thing is that you are happy and healthy!