By Ashley Miller, MPH, NBC-HWC, CHES, ACC
How many times have you picked up a magazine or looked at social media and been exposed to images that show you what the ideal body should look like, how much you should weigh? Maybe your family, friends, or colleagues have dropped some hints about how you have changed. Whether you are at a slim, ideal, or a higher weight, realize that this doesn’t define your worth as an individual. It’s time to shift away from our old way of thinking about weight and challenge ourselves to think about our own self-worth.
Throughout history there has been a cloud around this issue of weight, dating as far back as early third century BC, according to the author Louise Foxcroft, who wrote Calories and Corsets: A history of dieting over 2000 years. It seems like ever since then the world has been consumed by constantly trying to achieve the “ideal number”.
Think about ALL the ads, emails, and flyers in the beginning of the year centered on weight loss resolutions. According to MarketandMarket, a data research organization, the weight loss and management industry will be worth $245.51 billion by 2022. This includes everything from portioned meals, drinks, support and gym memberships, to surgical equipment for weight loss surgeries and exercise equipment, which may or may not be collecting dust somewhere in your home.
So let’s put things in perspective. Imagine your closest friend received an unexpected diagnosis and was told she only had a few weeks left to live. Undoubtedly, getting into a string bikini or developing rock hard abs would not be on her bucket list. Isn’t it more likely someone in this situation would be focused on spending time with loved ones, doing things that bring joy, or creating final moments to bring themselves peace?
Now let’s do whatever it takes to put those things above our weight. Yes, we should take care of ourselves and improve our health, but it’s not about a number on a scale. Remember, “good health” isn’t just your body. It’s also your time, goals, learning, experiences, fitness, eating, and so much more. Strive for being better each day in a way that you value. Maybe instead of trying to be something less you try harder to be more – more of what you value.
Think about who you are at the core of everything. Consider what you create, how you treat others, the value you bring to being you. Let those things comprise your worth.
Here are a few tips to realize your weight is not your worth and practice self-compassion.
Each week, write down five things you like about yourself.
Don’t limit this to your body! Instead, focus on the things you really like – your personality, your work, your behaviors, your values, your creativity, your hobbies, and your energy.
Don’t get discouraged.
If weight loss is your goal, then expect setbacks and barriers to this success. Even successful people have setbacks. If there are several setbacks, it might be time to review your goals or reach out for support. There are other forms of success to think about here, too. Think in terms of your clothes fitting better or a positive change in your body.
Never stop learning!
Set a new goal for each one that you accomplish. This might be related to how physically strong you feel, how you take care of yourself, what you put in your body, or perhaps where you want to go in life. The possibilities are endless and worth exploring.
Bottom line: You determine your own self-worth.
Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more visit www.workplaceoptions.com