The Weight Loss Resolution: Why Focusing On Self-Love Will Make For A Happier, Healthier 2020

We’ve all been there. The end of the year rolls around and you didn’t follow through with any of the fitness resolutions you set out for yourself at the end of the year prior. In fact, you may have even gained weight or gone up a dress size. Thanks to society’s standards and those “Instamodels” telling you that “nothing will ever taste as good as skinny feels,” it’s easy to become defeated, embarrassed, ashamed, and worried that you may never reach that weight goal. 

Instead of making another empty goal, this year, it’s time to take a different approach to your weight loss resolution: self-love

What is “self-love?” Why is it important?

The term “self-love” is thrown around a lot these days, often used as a filler word in very surface level conversations and marketing tactics to get you to buy expensive skin-care products, clothing, and other material things you don’t really need. But that doesn’t mean the true meaning and depth of the term isn’t important. Self-love is the act of showing yourself the same compassion you would show your best friend, significant other, or sister when they are faced with trying times, “failures,” hurdles, and personal mistakes. 

Self-love is important because it’s the key to overall well being and living a fulfilled life. The way you view yourself ultimately determines who you choose as a partner and the circle of friends you surround yourself with. Self-love, or the lack thereof, shapes the choices you make and how well you cope with the inevitable hurdles of life. It motivates you to make healthy choices out of pride and admiration for your body instead of out of shame and embarrassment– which is one of the most common reasons we aren’t able to reach weight loss goals.  

Body positivity vs. being healthy (how to navigate everyone’s opinions) 

If you’ve done any research into weight loss, odds are that you’ve come across two very conflicting viewpoints. On one end of the spectrum, there is the group that counts their macros, gets to the gym every single day, and puts a great deal of focus on losing weight, maintaining a certain physique, and showing off that physique through “Insta-shoots” for the sake of providing their followers with motivation and inspiration. They believe that overall physical health is important and that developing specific eating habits, following certain diets, and cutting out unhealthy foods altogether is necessary if you want to remain healthy and prevent disease. 

On the other hand, there’s the group that truly believes that you should love your body exactly as it is and that you should be able to eat whatever you want without restriction or guilt. This group believes that “diet-culture” is the root of eating disorders and feelings of self-hate and inadequacy. 

Both groups share extremely valid points. Certain unhealthy foods coupled with the modern sedentary lifestyle is undeniably a leading cause of obesity, which increases your risk of developing health issues like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Meanwhile, too much focus on these things can really take a toll on your mental health if not approached through the lens of self-love and appreciation. It is true that a scale can not measure your successes, your kind heart, or your worth in this world.

Now that you see the positives to both outlooks, you must be wondering, “how do you balance both?” 

How to approach healthy weight loss both physically and mentally 

Is it even possible to pursue a physically healthy lifestyle while protecting your mental health? The short answer is yes. It takes a lot of practice and balance to be able to do both in a way that is beneficial for your body and mind. This is where self-love comes in. 

When you approach health and fitness with a “self-love mindset,” meaning that you give yourself room for love, compassion, flexibility, mistakes, and learning, you may find that you want to pursue health and fitness out of genuine care for your body and a desire to live a healthy life rather than trying to be skinny and lose weight. 

To approach healthy living and weight loss in a way that’s good for your mental health, start by developing your “why” statement. Why do you want to live a healthy lifestyle? Why do you want to lose weight? Try to dig deep for reasons other than “to be skinny.” Perhaps that reason may be to be a good example for your children, to prevent the heart disease that runs in your family, or to simply feel better physically every day. Find your “why” and remind yourself multiple times daily. Put it as the background on your phone’s lock screen or write it out on a sticky note to hang on your desk at work. This will keep you motivated to build new habits, especially in the trying moments where it would just be easier to give up and fall back into old ways. 

The next step is to make a list of action steps to reach that goal. Give each action step a time frame and remember to go slow– approach only one action step at a time. There is no such thing as perfection, and any amount of progress is still progress and should be celebrated. Even in the moments where you slip up, it’s important to give yourself grace and ask what you learned from the slip up that you can apply to the next time you encounter a similar situation. 

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Building new habits and adopting a brand new lifestyle is a lot to take on by yourself. There are a lot of moving parts, especially when it comes to learning how to change your eating habits, so it’s worth considering joining a community-based weight loss program that takes away the headache of guesswork and the panic of having to completely restrict yourself from the foods you’re used to eating. Additionally, finding a workout buddy or signing up for a group fitness class that will keep you accountable is another great step towards building a healthier you! 

If you’re still struggling, and you feel as though this struggle may stem from your mental health, 2020 may be the year you finally seek mental health counseling. With a little research, you can find local mental health professionals that specialize in areas that you may be struggling with, like body image or stress and anxiety management. There is nothing to be ashamed of when seeking professional help for your mental health. You are putting effort into your overall health and wellbeing and that is nothing to be embarrassed about! 

Tips to get started

Along with the advice described above, there are a few other tips and tricks that will help get you into the right mindset for pursuing self-love and optimal health in 2020. 

  • Unfollow influencers who make you feel less-than. Instead, start following people who promote body positivity or people who post about a hobby you enjoy. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel over time when you aren’t subliminally fed false ideas of what you “should” look like every time you open up Instagram. 
  • Listen to inspiring podcasts around mental health and personal development. 
  • Develop a routine. Creating routine and structure you can count on almost every day makes it easier to build new habits and in turn reach goals. Take the time each night to plan out your next day, hour by hour, and do your best to stick to it! 
  • Practice mindfulness, meditation, and positive mantras. This is one of the best expressions of self-love you can give yourself because it will help you keep you calm, level-headed, and motivated. 
  • Start writing in a gratitude journal daily. This will help to bring feelings of self-love. Think about all of the things around you that you are grateful for and realize that these wonderful things you have in your life have nothing to do with your weight. It is, instead, a reflection of who you are as a person. 

Maintaining your weight is part of owning your health and taking care of yourself. And while it is important for the longevity of your life, it should also be realized that our society puts an unrealistic and unhealthy pressure on “being skinny” for no other reason besides vanity. 

A new year is the beginning of a brand new chapter. In this chapter, before you pursue any goals or resolutions, give yourself permission to love yourself– “fat” and all. Let go of the idea that weight loss is punishment and instead, begin to view health and fitness as an act of self-love and personal care. Your body has carried you to this point and it is the only thing that’s guaranteed to stay with you for the rest of your life. This is the year that you give your body the love, kindness, and attention it deserves! 

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