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It's Not Just About Calories

Apr 13, 2008
Achieving a healthy weight is not just about the food you eat. It's about self-esteem, self-worth, and a healthy emotional life.

A recent study confirmed that low self-esteem preceded weight gain. Adolescent girls who viewed themselves as unpopular were 69% more likely to gain weight than their more popular peers. The study, from January's Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, showed that for many girls, feelings of social inadequacy actually precede weight gain.

This study offers scientific proof for what is increasingly obvious. There is often a direct link between how women feel about themselves, what they eat, and how they take care of their bodies.

Weight management is not distinct from the other aspects of an individual's life. It's not just a matter of the food you eat, but how you feel about yourself, what social networks you have, and how happy you are, that can influence what you eat and therefore what you weigh.

Ultimately, a healthy weight is a reflection of health elsewhere in one's life: healthy relationships, a sense of purpose, and an overall sense of well-being. If a girl feels unpopular or socially inadequate, she might use food to quell these uncomfortable feelings. If a woman is feeling unsatisfied in her relationships or her career, she might do the same.

If you are struggling with your weight, look at the other areas of your life and ask yourself these questions:

- Are you getting everything you need from your relationships?
- Do you have fulfilling friendships that provide you with a sense of community?
- Are you receiving the intimacy you need from your partner?
- How is your work environment?
- How is your family environment?
- How are your stress levels?
- How do you feel about yourself?

If you are lacking in any of these areas, examine what steps you might be able to take to improve the situation. Here are a few ideas:

- Learn how to effectively communicate your needs, wants, and desires so that you can get the love and support you need from your relationships.

- If you are feeling isolated, brainstorm groups or organizations that you could become involved in. Could you take dance lessons, join a book club, volunteer for an environmental group? There are many opportunities to get involved; just pick an area of interest and explore your options.

- If your work environment is not satisfying, explore what options you have. Can you get additional training, talk to your boss about taking on more or less responsibility? Perhaps just taking a walk during your lunch break might help lift your spirits.

- Are you constantly feeling stressed? Begin taking yoga, learn to meditate or explore other mind-body centering practices. The benefits will stay with you throughout your life.

- Learn how to fully love and accept yourself. This is an absolutely essential component of weight management and living a fulfilling life.

If you are constantly berating yourself for your weight or criticizing other areas of your life, begin to shift your perspective. Focus on your attributes and be gentle with yourself in areas that need improvement. When you learn to love and nurture yourself, true change will occur.
About the Author
Sarah Maria is a body-image expert and personal empowerment coach who helps people love their bodies no matter how they look. She leads workshops and works one-on-one in consulting sessions to assist people in overcoming hatred and dissatisfaction with their bodies using holistic healing and spiritual principles.
Get her FREE e-book: "5 Steps to Loving What You See in the Mirror"
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