Seeing Clearly

By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 10/1/2014

Do You See What I See?

I can’t tell you how many times I tell a patient how wonderful they look after their weight loss and they just don’t see it.  The weight loss can be significant and the patient still sees him or herself as “fat.”  This problem has been brought up multiple times in support group.  The response to “you look great” should be “thank you.”  What happens when you lose your desired weight and you are still not happy with your body? 

Your body image is how you see yourself in the mirror or picture yourself in your own mind.  It may be totally different from how others see you.  A negative body image is a distorted perception of how you actually look.  Your body image can also reflect how you feel in your own body.   Some people are uncomfortable in their own skin.  This has absolutely nothing to do with who you are as a person.  Our goal is to help you accept your body shape and achieve a healthy weight.  We all know we are different shapes and sizes.  We need to learn to love and embrace who we are; otherwise we will have a difficult time achieving a positive self esteem. 

One way to overcome a negative body image is to learn to overpower negative thoughts and feelings with positive affirmations and acceptance of what you look like.  Whenever I hear the word affirmation, I think of that Saturday Night Live Stuart Smalley’s famous quote “I am good enough, I am smart enough and donegoneit people like me!”  Check out the following link to remind yourself of their skit:    HA! HA! HA!  We all need to learn to accept our bodies and balance food and emotions.  Food does not have to be a source of stress and negativity.  Food can be a source of empowerment.

Look at food as a source of self love, nourishment and pleasure.  A healthy diet is essential if one is to have a positive body image.  I always tell people not o focus so much on calories, but think of their diet as a way of fueling their body with good nutrition.  Taking care of yourself with healthy food is one way to prove that you are worth all the time and effort that it takes to eat healthy.  You deserve better than junk food.  Healthy protein options such as lean meats, fish, nuts, beans and peas in addition to  low fat dairy, vegetable oils  and lots of fruits and vegetables is the key to good health (both mental and physical).  Of course, you don’t have to be perfect and can include that occasional treat.  You just don’t want the occasional treat to become a daily habit or way of dealing with emotional stress. 

Another tip for improving one’s body image is to increase physical activity.  Activity will help with your weight loss efforts as well as serve as an outlet for your emotional stress.  Also, consider becoming more involved socially.  Our support groups and classes could be your perfect outlet.  You would be surrounding yourself with positive people who want to improve their health and are trying to achieve healthy lifestyles just like you! 

So, don’t forget your daily affirmations, good food choices, exercise and social outlet to help improve your self image.  You are worth more than you give yourself credit.  I have seen the negativity in way too many patients.  Celebrate all your positives!  We should all have something good to say about ourselves!!  Hope to see you in the office soon.  Best, Jane

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