Psychology has been the missing piece of the weight management puzzle, so in The Biggest Loser: Transformed we are working on the contestants mindsets as well as their waistlines in all new Mind Health Sessions. I’m so glad we did the first session on body image, as it is a major PROBLEM in Australian society.
Body image issues are starting younger, becoming more severe, and boys are catching up with girls with their body worries! In fact, it is now normal to not like your body, to be preoccupied with your dissimilarity from the thin ideal, and this is true for people of all shapes and sizes. This tells us that feeling comfortable in your own skin is as much about what you look like as the way you see yourself.
Why is it important to develop a healthier body image?
Body image concerns can cause depression and anxiety, reduce your quality of life, and put you at risk of eating disorders. But here’s the thing, hating your body is also completely unhelpful for weight management.
People who have worse body images tend to:
• Go on crash diets only to regain the weight
• Emotionally eat (as body image worries can make you very emotional)
• Avoid exercise (especially in public).
So our body image issues are not helping us take great care of ourselves, at least in any lasting way.
I talk with my clients about Body Love
Think about the word “love” and notice what comes to mind. What is love? What makes up love? What is love all about?
Now imagine if you loved your body by your definition of love. How would you view it, feel about it, treat it? What we love we value, take interest in, and care for, and the same holds true for our bodies. For me, Body Love has three main components:
• Acceptance. Does this mean you don’t try to improve yourself? No. It means you let go of unnecessary criticism about your perceived flaws so you have more energy for the important stuff.
• Care. Love is an action. So loving your body means you nurture it, you prioritise it, and you care for it - even when you don’t want to.
• Trust. Your body knows how to be healthy. Listen to its signs of hunger and fullness, notice how it responds to different foods and types of movement, and you will learn to trust what it tells you.
So if you feel like you have been at war with your body, you may want make peace, and begin the journey to loving your body healthy.
Glenn Mackintosh is the founder of Weight Management Psychology. To find out more about how psychology can transform your eating, movement, weight and body image, visit weightmanagementpsychology.com.au