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.1 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 a few more 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!
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. The most important thing is that you are happy and healthy!