Do you think that thin equals better? Or that weight loss means more happiness?
It’s. Not. True.
Know why? Because a negative body image is a result of mindset, not weight loss.
The danger of a negative body image is that it impacts your self-esteem and the way you behave.
In turn, self-esteem and behaviour impact every single area of your life.
Practically speaking, what does this mean?
Well, in essence, negative body image can negatively affect the relationships you form with your spouse, kids, friends, other family members and colleagues. It can harm your career and your finances.
Hating your body can make you deeply unhappy and it can block you from achieving the things you want in life, leading to even more dissatisfaction, and more than likely, depression.
Most people are dissatisfied with the way they look
The sad thing is that a Psychology Today survey reveals that 56% of women are dissatisfied with the way they look; the majority are not happy with the state of their bodies and a whopping 89% of women want to lose weight.
In fact, in this survey, it was proven that women who are dissatisfied with their bodies, tend to be heavier than what is considered to be a normal weight.
So if the stats have spoken, let’s focus on the biggest area causing negative body image: your weight.
Dieting is not the answer to weight loss
Dieting is not the answer to weight loss.
Dieting is not the answer to weight loss because it does not address the real issue. The real issue, is a lack of self-love and care for yourself because of your belief system in thinking that thin is better.
Now, let’s be clear about this: no one is ever going to hurt you as much as you hurt yourself.
But you do have enemies in your weight loss journey, and these are processed foods and the weight loss and beauty industries.
I mention this here because in Hosea 4:6, it says, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” It is essential to understand the truth about why you have struggled for so long to lose weight, one diet after the other, and you’re just going around and around in circles, becoming more and more disenchanted with life and developing more self-hatred towards yourself because you think you are useless, and that you don’t have the willpower for dieting.
Let’s expose this lie, and bring light into the darkness, because it is due to processed foods and money making industries, that you keep suffering and stumbling:
Enemy #1: processed foods
The fact that so many of us are way too dependent on food, is because of the food we are eating, and the fact that most of it is processed.
Nutrition Insight explains that “Processed food is the transformation of raw ingredients by physical or chemical means into food. Common examples include cereals, breads, meat products such as ham, cakes and many “convenience” foods such as ready meals. The premise of processed food addiction is that these foods – that can be high in salt, fat, sodium and sugar – can affect the brain in ways comparable to most addictive substances. In this way, they stimulate the overproduction of craving neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, serotonin, opiate and endocannabinoid.”
Simply put, Joan Ifland Ph.D., Doctor of Addictive Nutrition and author of the book Processed Food Addiction, explains food addiction as being like any other addiction: when processed food is consumed, changes in the brain take place that see the craving part over-stimulated and the rational side shutting down.
Any country that has an obesity problem, has a processed food addiction problem. With a third of the American population classified as obese, for instance, this issue is widespread.
In this video, find out why dieting doesn’t work when we’re addicted to processed foods:
Enemy #2: weight loss industry
While the majority of people suffer from processed food addiction, the weight loss industry booms.
Reuters reports that “The Global Weight Loss and Weight Management Market is expected to keep rising at a CAGR of 7.4% for the forecast period of 2017 – 2023. Factors such as growing number of bariatric surgeries and rising incidence of lifestyle diseases are fueling the market growth…” and “Developing speed of childhood obesity is one of the huge opportunities for the market.”
The more desperate people are to lose weight, the more they are prepared to spend, with the hopes of finally conquering the weight loss battle. The industry is well aware of that and play on it with advertising.
The truth is though, that while we still consume processed foods, we’re never getting the victory.
Enemy #3: beauty industry
Our third greatest enemy is the beauty industry who plays up to our need to look beautiful, all for the sake of profit.
Between the beauty and weight loss industries with all their advertising, thin and impossibly beautiful (mostly thanks to Photoshop) is made out to be the norm while overweight people seem to be out of the norm, although from the stats, that clearly is not the case.
However, this leaves the majority of the population feeling rather lonely and dissatisfied with their bodies and overall appearance.
As long as women have the desire to look as beautiful as the models used in advertising, the beauty industry will benefit.
And so you can see, with these three powerful enemies, we’re certainly up against a lot. It is not your fault for having a negative body image, even if you’ve stuffed into your body a million doughnuts!
You need to understand that you did not create the situation you are in. If you recognise yourself as a hopeless food addict, please don’t feel shame that you can’t seem to say no to food.
Simply repent of it in all earnestness, and then give it into the hands of God and let that shame go.
Shame is not your friend.
Shame will just make it worse.
A very real example of food addiction
Kim (not a real person) has a food addiction that started when she was six years old.
Overeating and eating processed food had escalated her weight.
Over time, she watched ads displaying beautiful, thin women. At school, she was mocked constantly about her weight, until she began to slouch, psychologically cutting herself off from others.
She began to avoid mirrors and being in photos, looking at her body in disgust, wondering how on earth anyone could ever love her.
Kim became depressed and as a result, found solace in food.
Self hatred towards her body impacted her career, her finances and her relationships.
She was passed over for promotions due to her lack of self-confidence and assertiveness, which of course stagnated her finances. In addition, all the processed food she consumed took quite a lump out of the money she earned.
Since she hated the way she felt while in the company of other people, she began to isolate herself. Friends eventually stopped calling with invites to attend functions. Kim’s greatest friend became food.
But every now and again, she would dredge up the motivation for a diet, stick to it a few days and then fall off the wagon.
This only further compounded the problem as it led to shame and a feeling of hopelessness, and she felt that she would never be able to be the person she was inside but could not express because of her weight.
The world kept telling Kim that she needed to diet to lose weight, but because dieting would never solve the root cause of the problem, it kept failing her.
Around and around she went, spiralling out of control and further into the mires of depression.
Learning self-appreciation is the quickest way to recovery
Dieting is not the answer to greater happiness, self-appreciation is.
Although it takes time to heal from a negative body image, self-appreciation is the fastest way to permanent recovery and…weight loss. That’s right: self-appreciation will automatically bring with it permanent weight loss.
Here are the steps:
The steps: #1 Find things to appreciate
The fastest way to recovery, is for Kim to learn self-love, or more specifically, self-care.
While our bodies were most certainly not created to be big, nor for addicts to depend on food the way they do, we have to forgive ourselves and learn to appreciate our body the way it is right now.
Now please don’t get me wrong…that doesn’t mean you have to lie to yourself in order to convince yourself you’re beautiful as you are. No, that would be insincere.
Instead, you need to find ways to appreciate your body, as it is right now.
Stand in front of a mirror and examine yourself. This is hard because food addicts tend to avoid mirrors, but it’s time not only to get real, but to find things about your body that are good.
- Your legs have carried you for years and have never let you down. Wow!
- Your eyes are the purest of blues. Wow!
- Your hands allow you to touch the most beautiful flowers. Wow!
- Your knees pop out in a cute way like no one else you’ve ever seen. Wow!
- You have no back pain; what a faithful back. Wow!
- You have gorgeous toes. Wow!
If there is nothing you see that you like, then focus on the logistics of your body…for instance, if you’ve been considered obese for some years:
- If you don’t suffer from any major disease, then your body has been kind to you.
- If your legs have allowed you to keep walking or exercising, then your body has been kind to you.
I am sure you get the picture. Just find something about your body that you can genuinely appreciate. Focus on the good.
The steps: #2 Repent for the abuse
No one said it would be easy, but now is the time to get real. It may sound harsh, but I myself have been through these same steps, and it is important for inner healing.
While it is not your fault for having come to depend on food to the extent that you have, and it is important not to allow shame to have the upper hand in your life anymore, your part is to repent to God for the abuse of the body He gave you.
Trust me when I say that God is not angry with you; instead, He wants to heal you. By confessing food dependence as gluttony, you will have taken one of the first steps to total inner body healing.
I love how Boyd Bailey describes the benefits of repentance: “Fruitful repentance fears the Lord and finds rest for its soul as it returns to good standing.”
Repentance also loosens any grip that Satan has used against you.
Then apologise to your body for the way it’s been treated.
Repent to God it’s Creator, for the abuse heaped on it, for your dependence on food, for making it a god in your life, and for not showing appreciation for your body or care for yourself. And very important; once you have repented, you must FORGIVE YOURSELF.
In my own life, it helped to see myself as a little girl, when my food addiction was born. Although I struggled to be kind to myself as I was, I could feel sincere compassion for the child who was me.
I thought about her, and loved her. I found I wanted to comfort her, tell her how special and good she was. I could cry over her, and then I could cry for me.
And so was the birth of my journey to healing.
This now, is the beginning of self-care. If you don’t love yourself and show care for your body, nothing you do is going to convince your body to let go of what your soul (your fleshly desires) has forced it to do.
When you feel self-hatred creeping in, be determined to quash it on the spot and replace it with thoughts of appreciation.
The steps: #3 Practical applications of self-care
Now you have the foundations of self-care in place, the next phase begins.
It’s going to require work, patience with yourself and perseverance, because you are going to fall. But what you do when that happens, will show you how far you have come.
In the very beginning stages of my self-awareness journey – when I first started realising I had a problem that went deeper than dieting – when I fell off the wagon, I would go wild for a few weeks. When I fell, I would fall hard: I would stop all efforts to eat healthily, I would stop exercising, and I would put on more weight. All because of one little packet of Nik Naks.
A few years later, I realised that when I fell off the wagon, I would simply get back on track. I would continue exercising and eating healthily.
That’s what happens when you begin to self-care. Suddenly you realise you’ve had healing in certain areas. It’s an amazing thing.
But do be prepared to be patient. Healing takes time; for me it was years. But. Slow progress is still progress.
You may be wondering right about now, what do people with healthy mindsets look like?
- They care for themselves physically by exercising.
- They eat food that is nutritious.
- They are able to control their emotions in the heat of the moment so that they don’t regret their actions later.
- They are able to say no to things that are not good for them.
- Their relationships with others are usually rewarding. They will not be attracted to “broken” people.
- They make time to enjoy things.
Practical ways to show appreciation for yourself
Ok, here are practical ways to show yourself care:
- Regularly do things you enjoy.
- Say “no” to something you don’t want to do.
- Start exercising. It can be as little as 5 minutes of walking a day.
- Put body lotion on regularly to keep your skin hydrated.
- Get your hair done.
- Get a neck massage.
- Eat nutritious food. Start by adding one extra portion of nutritional food to your meals. For instance, a piece of raw fruit.
- Invest in whole food supplements.
- Buy yourself flowers.
Get the idea?
Benefits of self-care
Anything worthwhile usually requires patience and effort.
It is no different to learning how to change your negative body image into a positive one. So it’s good to think of the benefits of working on it, and these are just the tip of the iceberg:
- As you begin the process of caring for yourself, because you are worth more than just the way you look, the weight will start dropping automatically, because the actions you take will change you from the inside out. As you start caring for your body and eating better and exercising, the weight is going to come off by itself.
- Because you will appreciate yourself with sincerity, you’ll start putting boundaries in place so that people don’t walk all over you.
- You will feel happier and be more confident.
Has this helped? I would love a comment below!