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Put an end to body shaming by practicing body positivity

Published by Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD on Feb 18, 2019

Take a look in the mirror. How do you feel about your body at this very moment? Do you love how you look or do you face the mirror with trepidation, frustration and shame?   Nothing beats the ability to look in the mirror and accept yourself as you are.  The ability to say, “Hey I look good. I like my current weight as I feel healthy and full of energy.”  Yet how many people say this to themselves – particularly women?  To love and appreciate your body no matter what size you are is a true gift of body positivity.  When you practice body positivity and self-acceptance of how wonderfully you were created, that’s when real change in your perception of yourself and your overall health, can begin.

For those who would like to lose some weight, think about what is your motivation for doing so.  Lots of people strive to change their weight not to improve health but rather to meet society’s ideals of attractiveness.  Unfortunately, this kind of thinking sets people up for disappointment.  Our bodies are not infinitely malleable.  Few overweight people will become rail-thin even with the right eating pattern, exercise habits, and behaviors.  Likewise, most underweight people will remain on the slim side even after spending much effort to put on some bulk.

In regards to your body weight, focus instead on what that weight loss or weight gain means in terms of your health.  For example, an overweight person who loses even a modest weight loss of just 5 or 10 percent of current body weight, may still be overweight – but – they can quickly achieve gains in health parameters, physical abilities and quality of life.  These gains can include improvements in their diabetes, blood pressure, and blood lipids.  Little things like climbing stairs, walking, and other tasks of daily life suddenly become noticeably easier.

Learning that the ultimate goal of achieving a healthy body weight is to adopt health or fitness as the overall ideal rather than some ill-conceived image of beauty society has set, can free a person from a lifetime of self-degradation.

In order to not go down that path, first understand it is important to take good care of yourself.  Eat healthy foods the majority of the time, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep and have positive ways of dealing with stress.  We all come in different shapes and sizes and when we learn to accept what our own individual healthy body looks like, we can then begin to accept ourselves as we are.  Here’s how:

  • Value yourself and others for traits other than body weight; focus on your whole self including your intelligence, social grace, and professional and scholastic achievements.
  • Realize that prejudging people by weight is as harmful as prejudging them by race, religion, or gender.
  • Use only positive, nonjudgmental descriptions of your body; never use degrading, negative descriptions.
  • Accept positive comments from others.
  • Accept that no magic diet exists.
  • Stop dieting to lose weight. Adopt a healthy eating and exercise lifestyle permanently.
  • Never restrict food intake below minimum levels that meet nutrient needs.
  • Become physically active, not because it will help you get thin, but because it will enhance your health.

Takeaway message

We all come in different sizes and shapes.  Some of us are small-boned and petite while others have a stocker, athletic frame. That’s okay, none of us were meant to look exactly the same.  Grant yourself to love your body just the way it is right now. Keep in mind that attempting to fit into a pair of size 4 skinny jeans does not make you a more desirable, better-looking or worthy person.  At the same time, take good care of your body – we’re only given one so treat it with respect.  Choose healthy foods at least 90% of the time, allowing occasional indulgences and get in exercise by moving frequently each day.

And remember, wherever you are in your health journey, that journey should start with knowing you have worth and value as a human being in whatever shape you are in.

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Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City; an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, KS where she teaches Basic Nutrition; and is a freelance writer and blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi, Urologic Oncologist Expert and World Renowned Robotic Surgeon in New York City. Cheryl is also the author of The Nourished Brain, The Latest Science on Food’s Power for Protecting the Brain from Alzheimers and Dementia and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook, both available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.

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