How many of us obsess about our weight to the extent that it makes us extremely unhappy?
I know I do, and I know many others in the same situation.
This isn’t helping us: in fact it makes it so much worse!
Look at the women in the two video clips above and take some comfort and common sense from them.
Many years ago being suntanned was a sign of being a poor farmer or an outdoor worker, and being plump was a sign of health and wealth.
Now it is almost the opposite. Ask yourself: “do I really want to look like someone who was just liberated from Auschwitz?"
We think about food too much. We impute far too much significance, sociologically, psychologically and morally, to how much people weigh. Worst of all, we impute too much significance to how much we weigh ourselves. Unrelenting self-torture over poundage is ruining countless people’s lives, and I don’t mean only those with eating disorders.
For that matter, if we broaden our definition, virtually all of us now have eating disorders.
By ‘us’ I don’t mean women.
Further reading: Fear of fat: Novelist Lionel Shriver on her fascination with flab.
Does your confidence need a bit of a lift? Try these easy, effective and proven methods to build your self-worth in no time.
Kill negative thoughts
Turning your "inner critic" into an "inner coach" is crucial to boosting self-esteem, clinical hypnotherapist Maggie Wilde says. "The first step is to be aware of what’s happening and ask yourself if these thoughts are reality or just someone’s opinion," she says. "Unhelpful thoughts, such as 'I'm too fat', can sometimes be learned language which stems from being told as a child that you shouldn't eat certain things. When you catch yourself doing this ask, 'What would my inner coach say instead?'" It may feel silly at first, but even if you don't believe it initially, it doesn't matter. The point is to change your neural pathways to a more positive way of thinking.
Watch your body language
Ever been in a meeting or interview and found yourself hunched in a chair with your legs together or hands clasped tightly? A pose like this can exacerbate feelings of nervousness, but the good news is you can fake it until you make it through standing or sitting in a "power pose".
In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers found that participants who held expansive poses − such as sitting with their feet up on a desk, with their hands behind their head, or standing and leaning with their hands on a table − showed a drop in the stress hormone cortisol of about 25 per cent and an increase in testosterone levels of about 19 per cent. Researchers also found that when people strike a power pose, they perceive themselves as being physically stronger and taller than they actually are.
According to the Mayo Clinic in the US, regular exercise stimulates brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. It also boosts confidence and self-esteem through making you feel better about your appearance – and a daily 30-minute brisk walk or workout is all it takes. A study from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Canada also found that overweight teens reaped psychological benefits after they exercised just twice a week for 10 weeks.
Learn a new skill
People who take up an adult learning scheme − whether it's an art class or computer course − have better health, are less likely to be depressed and visit their GP less regularly than those who don't, according to research from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in the UK. A study from the University of Texas at Austin also found that kids who took piano lessons had higher self-esteem than their peers. "Getting out of your comfort zone on a regular basis is important because often people who seem confident are just comfortable in a certain environment. Underneath the surface, they actually have low self-esteem," Wilde says.
Be realistic about fashion images
Exposure to photographs of models can cause self-esteem to plummet, particularly for overweight women, according to a study in the Journal Of Consumer Research.
Overweight women's self-esteem always decreases when they view photos of models, regardless of the size of the model, and women with a normal body mass index (BMI) have lower levels of self-esteem when they look at thinner models. Don't compare yourself to models; the images are often airbrushed.
Learn to say no
People with low self-esteem often overcompensate by trying to do too much for others, which leaves them feeling depressed, Wilde says. "I had a client who was overwhelmed by life and had too many commitments. She couldn't say no without feeling guilty." This stemmed back to a time in her childhood when she had worked out that people would like her if she did things for them, Wilde explains. "Once she was capable of saying no, she felt much more confident, much less guilty and in control of her life."
Acknowledge your achievements
Think about all the difficult or challenging situations you have faced in the past, from learning to drive to passing exams and dealing with failed relationships. You got through all of these events and they have helped shape the person you are today. Wilde also suggests jotting down a list of all your positive attributes, along with all the things you want in your life. At the end of this list write: "I remember that now." Keep it close to hand so you can read it when you feel down and need a boost. "The brain learns in a number of ways and one of them is through repetition, which helps develop new neural pathways," she says.
Originally published on bodyandsoul.com.au
With many thanks to the Herald Sun
Picture credits: Mel Schwartz and Prego and the Loon
Further reading: Anorexic model Georgina Wilkin: organs were failing but designers still booked her
And this: At 163 cm tall and weighing in at 70 kilos, this is the average Australian woman
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