Mind’s vital role in body confidence

25th September 2013

WHEN it comes to weight loss we focus a lot on the body—foods that will boost your fat burn and workouts for your six-pack. And while those things can help you slim down, a crucial, first step on the road to lasting weight loss is often missed: The mind’s role in weight loss and the journey to body confidence!

Why is body confidence so important? As I explain in my book How To Be Body Confident, it’s one of the major problems people face when they’re trying to lose weight successfully.

Look at these startling statistics:

  1. By age 14 half of girls and one third of boys have dieted to achieve their ideal shape
  2. One in three men would sacrifice a year of life to achieve their ideal body
  3. Getting rid of dieting could wipe out 70% of eating disorders
  4. Up to one in five cosmetic surgery patients could suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  5. Appearance is the largest cause of bullying in schools

This shocking picture is painted in a document issued by the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on body image “Negative body image is now the biggest single worry for millions of children and young people and we believe society must act now to change behaviour and attitudes for future generations,” the group warns.

I’ve taken part in some of the group’s sittings in Westminster and I fully agree with them. One of the major problems women face when they’re overweight is that when they look in the mirror they don’t see a reflection of their inner beauty – the caring, talented, devoted, warm, wonderful person they really are.

What they see instead is a distortion. They judge themselves by what they believe are society’s standards: If you’re thin you’re beautiful, if you’re overweight you’re ugly. Worse, many ladies convince themselves that because they’re big then others consider they are stupid.

You won’t be surprised to learn that when we lack self-esteem we often turn to food or drink to provide short-lived comfort. “Oh, I look bad so I feel bad so I’ll eat to feel better.” Trouble is, the more you eat the bigger you get and the worse you feel each time you see yourself in the mirror.

If you’ve been on a diet for a large part of your life this self-loathing can be magnified many times over, because each diet that hasn’t worked is another milestone of personal failure in your eyes.

Being thin is associated with success, attractiveness, sexuality and self-control over eating. But the truth is that thin people are no happier than fat people, nor are they sexier nor do they have more self-control.

How we see ourselves – and indeed how we see others – is not a reality but an illusion. Body image exists only in our mind’s eye, and it changes from one second to the next.

That’s why you can feel ‘fatter’ ten minutes after eating a slice of cake, when in actual fact you couldn’t possibly look any different. Accepting this is an important first step in creating more body confidence.

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