Exercising and eating right to achieve a healthy weight are major goals for an improved lifestyle. But exercising and dieting to the point of compromising one's health, relationships, self-esteem and even life will never solve your body issues.
In the Jan. 4, 2005, issue of the New York Times, it was reported that 19 per cent of overweight people would risk their life to be thin, while 33 per cent of obese people and 4 per cent of normal-weight people would do the same to lose 10 pounds. Meanwhile, 31 per cent of obese people would trade up to five per cent of their remaining years to be 10 per cent thinner.
It is important for parents to recognize body weight dissatisfaction in their children, because there have been numerous studies proving its negative effects. A 2009 study published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health shows that overweight teens and teens who see themselves as overweight may be at greater risk of attempting suicide.
Unrealistic weight goals are manifestations of a poor body image, and have been linked to serious health problems. Body image is the way you picture your own body. According to studies, the way we see our body is the effect of what we see in the environment, like the underweight models in magazines, dieting friends, thin celebrities, influential people like athletes and coaches, and even parents who are obsessed with dieting.
Body dissatisfaction leads to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, even in men. In fact, according to the latest research conducted at University of the West of England, men now worry about their body shape and appearance more than women do, and also resort to compulsive exercise and restrictive diets.
Recognize your body issues. You might have to consult a mental health specialist or a counselor, or even get more support by talking to your family and loved ones if you experience the following:
- You worry too much about your appearance even if you look fine and your weight is just right for your height.
- You spend a lot of time thinking of how to be thin, you are never content with your body, and you keep criticizing yourself.
- You are always negatively affected by others' looks and weight.
- You are willing to spend just to lose weight or improve your appearance in the fastest possible way.
- You can take weight loss to the extreme by dieting and/or exercising as much as you can endure.
The real secret to effectively losing weight is to love and accept your body, every day, regardless of your weight and appearance. You have to realize that the way you look says very little about your value as a person. Appreciate yourself so you will not resort to dangerous diets, surgical procedures, slimming pills, and exercises that will make you sick, weak and more emotionally down in the end.
Before you start any weight management program, acknowledge that you love yourself, and you want to take good care of your body through safe and effective ways of improving your health.
Protect your body by staying away from unrealistic thoughts or extreme strategies, and care more about your health than the numbers on your scale.
Take care of your body by doing everything in moderation, so you will have enough energy and focus to balance other aspects of your life-mental, emotional and spiritual.
Appreciate your uniqueness by reflecting on your life experiences, strengths, values, character, and even your weaknesses, instead of comparing yourself with others who have lost weight after the latest fad diets.
Respect yourself. Respect your body by appreciating your assets instead of focusing on your imperfections as you look in the mirror.
If you really want to lose weight, then you should have the right reasons. If your motivation is to improve your health, to feel energized, or do well in your chosen sports and physical activities, then you will have greater chances of losing and keeping your weight off.