Our society undoubtedly focuses much attention on the importance of a person’s weight. Arguably women deal with this to even a larger extent than do men. We are consistently barraged with images of people who are not part of the norm, yet we treat them like they are. Athletes, actors, and other celebrities, who make a living on remaining supremely fit for various reasons, dominate the covers of our favorite magazines. On the cover of these magazines, there are also articles focused on how losing weight will change your social life and improve your self-esteem. This can send the wrong message about the importance of weight loss and goal-setting.
Weight loss is an important issue that our country is facing. We are consistently dealing with trying to find food that would help us maintain a healthy weight. It is a fact that increased weight highly correlates with many health problems, but there is no evidence that weight itself makes people happy. Healthcare costs, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are all legitimate reasons for us to be concerned about weight gain, but we have to be careful of sending such a message that states that losing weight makes people content.
Comparing your weight to others is inevitable. However, if you catch yourself doing this, you can then redirect yourself. In my counseling private practice, I have found that many of the people who are trying to lose weight, do so using bitterness and resentment as a source of motivation. Although this can create an initial intensity, the intensity usually quickly fizzles out. Like most people who are trying to make a change to appease a motivational source that is outside of themselves, weight loss is not much different. If the motivation is solely for other people, with the hope that you will feel better about yourself as a result, you will likely be disappointed.
Rather than starting with thoughts of how your ideal weight could help gain you more attention and popularity, think about how it could benefit your health. Asking yourself the following questions can help you in reaching your weight loss goals:
How could weighing less help you feel better?
Does your family have a history of any health problems that you want to prevent?
Would losing weight help you improve on your sex life?
If you lose weight, will you have more energy?
Asking yourself such questions can help you motivate yourself for the right reasons. These are internal reasons for you to make a change. This will be a goal that you set for yourself and not necessarily anybody else. Then you can put an effective plan in place to reach this goal. I recommend that you start by talking with your physician and possibly a dietician to help with this plan. The truth is that many people are not good at identifying what their ideal weight should be. So they often go about their weight loss plan in an unhealthy way. Professionals will also be able to help you set realistic goals, so that you don’t expect too much of a change too soon.
It is natural to want to lose weight to “look better”. It’s impossible to avoid such thoughts about making weight loss goals. If you view looking a certain way as an additional benefit to getting fitter and healthier, rather than your primary goal, you will likely benefit as a result. You will be more likely to follow through with this goal. You’ll also be able to pull from the pride of reaching a goal that you made for yourself. Finally, you’ll put yourself in a position that lowers your health risk and may help you physically feel better. So set your weight loss goals to help yourself first, and gain attention from others second, and you will likely feel increased contentment as a result.
Michael J. Salas is a Dallas Therapist who provides counseling to individuals dealing with issues relating to substance abuse, anxiety and depression. In his practice, he provides a holistic approach to counseling, helping his clients learn ways to keep themselves healthy to help their mental health improve.
Michael Salas, Licensed Professional Counselor