As a paleo blogger, I keep my ears in a lot of different conversations happening on the web. This helps keep me as open-minded and informed as possible. (Or I try, anyway.)
Two of the conversations I like to pay special attention to are the weight loss conversation, and the body image conversation.
Huh?? is the most common response I get to that. People very often just don’t get it – they don’t get how I can care so deeply about both.
I get a lot of questions from readers — and even from fellow bloggers and authors — who ask me what I think about the relationship between weight loss and self-love. They tell me you cannot possibly care about both at the same time.
They say there is no way I can promote weight loss on one hand, but also on the other hand, tell you (my readers) to love yourselves unconditionally.
Is it possible to both be on a weight loss journey and still love your body as it is?
You bet it is.
1) Remember your Weight is not Who You Are
The most important thing you can do for your self-love while trying to lose weight (or doing anything, really), is to remember that you are far more than the way you look.
In fact, I would argue that you are NOT the way that you look, at all. Period.
You are your values, your personality, your quirks, your history, your family, your friends, your passion, your work, your relationships, your love, your spirit, your energy.
Your body is your home. That’s all. The way that it looks does not make you who you are.
This is not an easy recommendation to follow, I understand, but I promise you that the more you focus on the things you love about yourself that are on the inside, the less you will feel like you need to be at war with what’s on the outside.
2) Prioritize Health
Another great way to love yourself and lose weight at the same time is to focus on the aspects of the weight loss journey that are not aesthetic.
Sometimes losing weight can make you healthier and decrease the amount of inflammation you have in your body (if you have a lot of it).
Health, energy, peace, positive outlook, and improved physical fitness are all great benefits that you might get from weight loss.
The way that you look is honestly way down at the bottom of things that you can get from weight loss, in terms of how good they are and how much they help you live a happy, fulfilling life.
3) Acknowledge Your History
You have a set of genes you were born with.
You have an immune system that was set up by your infant care and nursing environment.
You have a body that has endured decades of bad meals, peddled to you by corporations that profit off of Sugary Cereals and Franken-Foods.
You have endured health crises, stressful life events, and so much more.
No one in the world knows your story as well as you do. You are the only person who knows what you and your body have been through.
Embrace your story. Embrace where you and your body are right now at this moment. Accept your past, and walk forward together, with your body.
Don’t let people make you feel judged, especially when they don’t know your story. Instead, hold your story close to your heart, and remember that you are your own being with your own needs, and on your own path.
4) Acknowledge that Your Body is Trying to be Healthy
From the day you were born, the only thing your body has tried to do is be healthy.
This is a real thing.
Certain obstacles have gotten in it’s way… from bad medical advice to poor science to those Franken-food peddlers I mentioned above…
But the point is that your body is not to blame.
You are not to blame.
You are both victims here.
So instead of going to war with your body for weight loss, I recommend getting on your body’s side and go to war together against the world.
Your body is doing it’s best – so don’t be mad. Give it a hug and all the compassion you can muster. Your body really, really deserves it.
5) Get Comfortable with Who You Are
The more you love who you are on the inside, the less you need to stress about what’s going on on the outside.
Sometimes we think that our problem is our bodies…
But what it actually is is ourselves.
Sometimes we use our bodies as a target for hate, when what we are truly uncomfortable with is a problem within ourselves.
Maybe you feel unworthy. If you do, ask yourself why. Maybe you feel afraid. Ask yourself why. Maybe you don’t think anybody likes you. Ask yourself why.
Then, once you figure out why, you can help tear down those illusions and build up a more positive vision of yourself in their place.
Ask yourself if you can become more comfortable with who you are… hell, ask if you can become super confident and badass about who you are!
The more you love yourself on the inside, the more you can make changes to the outside without feeling like so much is at stake.
6) Envision Your Body as Your Home or Your Car
Your home is your shelter. It’s your safety. It’s your cozy abode.
It has four walls that protect you, and it has central air, and it keeps you comfortable and alive.
For that, you have every reason to be unendingly grateful.
Yet you can also expend effort re-painting the shutters, or oiling the squeaky hinges on the front door.
You can love your home with all your heart, and still want to make changes.
The same concept applies to a car.
It gets you from point A to point B, which is super amazing.
Yet you can also change the oil, or pad the brakes, or pimp out the stereo system.
Think about your body like you would your home or your car. You have never ending gratitude for how amazing they are… yet in a fun and lighthearted way, you can make improvements.
It’s like a cool new episode of Celebrity Cribs or Pimp My Ride.
You can love your body, and still want to make it better… for both of your sakes.
7) Progress with Patience
Patience is the key to just about every important thing we will ever do in our lives.
Weight loss is no exception.
Your body has been through many trials, as have you personally.
The more patience you can muster for yourself and your body (because you both really are trying your best), the less stress you will endure while losing weight, and the more fun you will have.
Sit back and breathe. A few steps forward, a few steps back. No big deal. Patience!
8) The More You Love Your Body, The More it Loves You Back
The more you heap love on your body… with patience, with acceptance, with listening, with giving it the nutrients it needs…
The more it loves you back.
The more you give your body rest and healing, the more it actually heals.
This means all the benefits you like, such as better energy, better mood, lower inflammation, and even increased weight loss.
Not like you need that to happen – but it does!
And this is definitely a real thing that women witness all the time. It is, in fact, the underlying principle of my book on women’s bodies and confidence, Sexy by Nature.
9) Do not Self-Sabotage
Avoiding self-sabotage might be easier said than done, but it definitely can be done.
The problem with sabotage is that most women do it before they even realize it’s too late… by compromising their healthy habits, going out drinking, eating too many “cheat” – “unhealthy” – meals.
The best way to avoid it is to be constantly vigilant about it from the get-go. Constantly remind yourself that change is okay. That you are doing the right thing. That your choice is good for you, and that nothing scary will happen at all if your body changes size.
Get yourself ready for the change, and embrace it when it comes.
Self-sabotage can really make self-love difficult, because it makes us frustrated with ourselves. If that happens to you, it’s okay. If you can avoid, though, all the better!
Just remember: love, acceptance, and patience progress are the name of the success game. (I talk about self-sabotage more in this post: How to Stop Self Sabotaging Weight Loss.)
Some people think that you cannot love yourself and be on a weight loss journey at the same time, because self-love means no change.
This is wrong.
Some people believe that you can’t love yourself unless you are on a weight loss journey, because self love for them means getting as skinny as society wants you to be.
This is also wrong.
For me, self-love and weight loss are two things that can exist independently, but that do work really well together, if you do them right.
In fact, if you happen to use the program I wrote for female weight loss, Weight Loss Unlocked, you will find that all of these principles are laced heavily throughout the book. I use self-love practices to support weight loss rather than to antagonize it, by coupling loving practices with the best tools and tips I know from the science of women’s bodies.
(If you don’t use the program obviously that’s no big deal, but if you’re curious you can check it out at this link.)
And, as ever, I would love love love to hear what you think! If health or weight loss are involved in any of your resolutions this year, what does that mean to you? How is it influencing your life? How do you feel about yourself? I want to know!