How Loving Myself Led to Losing Weight


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  160 comments   :  82,191 Views

I was saddened (but not surprised) when I read a news story last week about how overweight women feel stigmatized and judged by others. According to the story, the survey of overweight women revealed:

"A quarter said they'd rather be severely depressed than obese. About 15 percent said they'd rather be blind. A full 49 percent said they'd trade five years of their life not to be obese."

This story (and the interesting comments it conjured on my Facebook page) brought back a lot of memories for me, both good and bad.
I have been overweight. And when I was overweight, my self-esteem and self-worth were very low. I felt that others judged me. I thought people were looking at me and thinking negatively about my body, especially when I was in college studying nutrition and fitness. I was never asked on a date. I remember thinking that I may never find someone ever—and I felt this way despite the fact that I knew I was an intelligent, funny, nice and interesting person. The depression I felt during my heavier years was hard to kick and to me, my weight and my sadness were very much intertwined. If someone asked me then if I'd trade five years of my life to be thin, I probably would have said yes. I probably would have even given up more years than that. I would have done almost anything, so I can relate to people who turn to pills (tried it), exercise fads (bought 'em all), crazy diets (been there) and whatever else in hopes that it just may work for them.
We aren't hardwired to feel this way. We are culturally molded to. To assert that people are stigmatized and judged because of their weight—that it's not all in our heads—isn't crazy. Many of us have been the direct victims of bullying, weightism (in the workplace, in public, in the dating world, you name it), or worse. And we're part of a culture that continues to value and glorify thin. It's not easy to undo years of conditioning that taught us what is beautiful and desirable and what "isn't." Often we don't even realize the power of a single word, a single comment, a single billboard, a single magazine, a single "fat" joke, a single encounter can have on a person, overweight or not. But multiply that by 100, 1,000 maybe even 1 million instances over a lifetime, and it's easy to see how people (overweight or not) feel the way they do about something so seemingly trivial and non-influential as body fat.
When I was heavier, I wanted so desperately to lose weight. But as long as I continued hating myself because of my weight, I never lost a pound. I didn't realize it then, but I can look back now and see it so clearly. It wasn't until I started to accept myself and love myself that my depression, my low confidence, and my weight problem began to melt away. I would say good things to myself (whether I believed them or not), and I worked diligently on building my self-esteem. I shunned all the negative influences on my body image. As I accepted myself as I was—overweight—and the fact that I may be this size (or heavier) for the rest of my life, somehow a weight was lifted off of me. That strong, obsessive urge to change myself or lose weight slowly evaporated—along with my out-of-control binges, my self-punishing exercise sessions, and all the other bad "diet" habits that were sabotaging me and keeping me heavy. I fully accepted then that I may be overweight forever and was OK with it. I was OK just how I was, and everyone else could take it or leave it.
I stopped trying to lose weight, but that’s exactly what happened—slowly and surely over the next several years. I am glad that I dropped the pounds. I do feel fitter, healthier, and more confident. But this time, it's not just because I'm thinner that I feel this way. I may have lost the weight, but I still struggle with confidence. Losing weight doesn't solve everything—many people can attest to that. But what I learned is invaluable, and will help me more than any “victory” on the scale can; I learned that confidence, self-love, and self-acceptance comes from inside—not the outside. It seems cliché, but I know it to be true. You have to start inside, and usually, changes to the outside will follow. But even if they don't, who cares? You'll still be happier because you learned to fall in love with the totally incredible person that you are.

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  • 160
    I feel like I could have written this myself because it's exactly how I lost significant weight. The part about accepting yourself as you are and that you just may be that way forever, so love yourself. I was the same way I felt when the weight started coming off. I look at my very positive, happy self now and can hardly believe I was that depressed person beating herself up all the time (literally and emotionally). That was well written, and I can say that it really can work that way. - 2/10/2017   4:03:46 PM
  • 159
    There is a lot of truth for everyone in your story. Love me. - 12/1/2016   12:45:21 PM
    Respectfully, and I say that because you have to respect someone who turns their life around for the better in whatever way that is, I don't think you are being absolutely honest here. Pounds do not melt themselves off because you decide one day to love yourself the way you are. They do begin to melt off because you love yourself enough to make the changes necessary for those pounds to melt off. The recent self love trend is going to backfire big time in terms of health and longevity. Those women who tell the world they want to be known as "curvy" instead of plus-sized will some day understand the folly of their ways, being "fat and happy" never truly happens when type2 diabetes and heart disease catch up with you. And to those men and women who are so depressed or unhappy with their weight that they'd give up 5 years of their lives to be thin, well, put your money and your life where your mouth is. That is exactly what people (including me) who were fatter but are now skinnier are doing. And coach Nicole, that is what you did and are doing. You exercise, you take time to prepare healthy meals, you take time to stretch and to meditate and to think about what is best for your body, and then you act on it. You give up your years of mindless munching on junk to live better. In reality, what you give up in years of your life to do those things to get healthier, you gain back because of your health. Self love (accepting yourself being fat) does not and will not get you there. Only the type of self love that spurs you to action, makes you really and truly give up 5 years of your life to get to and stay at a healthy body (weight and otherwise), will help melt the pounds away. This is what I am trying to do with my myself enough to do, and keep doing the things that will help me not only live longer, but to have healthy and happy longevity. And, just by reading your articles, I know that's what you are doing as well...not mindlessly loving your fat self. - 6/27/2016   8:32:07 AM
  • SHAHAI16
    I went through this after having my son, pressured to lose the weight and being treated badly because of it. Between PPD and stress, I felt useless and hopeless. Therapy helped me realize it was a toxic situation. I haven't lost any weight, but I feel so much happier now, love myself and found a great guy who loves me as I am. - 6/26/2016   11:34:10 PM
  • 156
    Thank you for "paying it forward" and helping so many others! Your story is an inspiration. - 6/26/2016   8:36:32 PM
  • 155
    You know I saw this on the start page and so wished I had seen this many years ago. I was obese for over 40 years and also had very low self esteem and yes I wanted to lose the weight but could not. In the last 7 years I have lost the weight and am not working to keep it off, but this happened only when I truly learned to like me as I was at that moment. I know what you have written and the person you are will help to inspire so many others to learn that loving yourself is the true key to long term weight loss. Awesome! - 6/26/2016   6:40:27 PM
  • MARIAF58
    A big thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story. It is often a lonely road one finds themselves on from being overweight and wanting to shed pounds.
    I am 5'10.5" tall, always been an athlete and pack a lot of muscle and some fat in obvious places. Being always thin as a kid and teenager, the weight started stacking on in my mid-forties when a permanent injury turned my life in the wrong direction. I tried many things through Sparkpeople, work out almost every day doing different activities. I am still stuck around 180 pounds and I am finally good with that number. I wear a size 10 in most clothes, actually people tell me I look great for my age (going on 58 in a couple weeks).
    So yes, accept yourself for what you are and don't ever fall victim to stupid society rules that don't apply to anything. - 6/26/2016   4:42:48 PM
  • MM4WL2016
    And now you are helping others too. The negative thoughts that we have about ourselves can be so damaging. Turning those thoughts into positive ones are definitely an important part of weight loss. As is if we have a splurge meal, not treating ourselves in any negative way. Most likely if it was our best friend we would give them a bigger break than we give ourselves. It's a matter of re-learning bad habits all the way around. I recently purchased 3 of your workout DVDs. Thank you! - 6/26/2016   4:20:03 PM
  • 152
    This made me cry. I still feel this way - that I would trade ANYTHING just to not be obese. I know, especially as a therapy grad student, that I have to start with self-love, but I also know how difficult that can be after four decades of self-loathing.
    Thank you for sharing this Nicole. I appreciate that you are here to share your life and your wisdom with those of us here who so desperately need it. - 6/26/2016   3:34:22 PM
    Thanks for sharing your story. I definitely can relate and am working on accepting myself. I am so glad to have found Sparkpeople! - 6/26/2016   2:21:09 PM
    thank you so much for sharing! It really is helpful! Ready to get back on track to a healthier lifestyle - 6/26/2016   1:44:41 PM
  • 149
    I completely understand those feelings, I had them for years! I would drown my sorrows in pizza and hot fudge sundaes! Eight months ago, I changed my eating habits, I did not diet, I cut out beef, pork, fast food, high sodium foods, no sodas but 8 glasses of water a day. I've lost 26 pounds and have kept it off for 3 months. I'm not thin but I am getting healthier and I am only 13 pounds from what I should weigh for my height and age. My body has stretch marks and some sagging here and there. My body also has muscle and lovely curves. My face has new definition, there is a sparkle in my eye and a newness to my love life with my husband of 16 years. I do love myself now, and I accept my imperfections. - 6/26/2016   1:35:48 PM
    I love the line about learning to fall in love with yourself. Thank you for this beautiful article. - 6/26/2016   1:14:10 PM
  • 147
    Great article. Thanks for sharing. When I was 23 I got married and gained over 40 pounds my first year of marriage. I disliked how I felt, I was miserable. I started WW and lost the weight I gained within the next year and I actually learned how to cook during that year. I was always athletic and training was my ultimate goal in life. I never worried about diet. Once I gained all that weight, I had to learn how to eat healthy. Over the years I have gained a ton of weight back and it is a struggle now to keep the weight off. I lost 37 pounds when I joined SP (eating healthy and exercising) and I continue to struggle now to keep it off. The articles, recipes and exercises we are provided are such a great help and the awesome SparkFriends who send encouragement and inspiration. - 6/26/2016   11:48:19 AM
  • 146
    Wow - thanks for sharing Your struggle. To read how someone we know and trust made her journey is more powerful than watching any TV guru. - 6/26/2016   10:59:14 AM
  • 145
    It is difficult to believe that you were ever overweight. You look great.I think you are all starts with self love..which I never had much of..I do want to lose weight and be thin and feel good in my own skin..I am just not sure if I can get to the place where I want it more than "anything". - 6/26/2016   8:38:49 AM
  • 144
    This is a great story, and helps me to understand how I can make changes in my life. While I am not obese, I struggle with Type II Diabetes. Instead of focusing on the changes that I want to make, I will focus on loving myself, and allow the change to come. - 6/26/2016   5:59:44 AM
  • 143
    You can feel stigmatised not only because of being overweight. As with "fat jokes" "blonde jokes" can also be demoralising. People don't realise it but for someone who is a blonde and intelligent these so called jokes can really hurt. How would other people feel if all a brown, black, red, white headed person is made out to be really dumb.

    Worse than that some people, men in particular, view a blonde as a sexual being only. A blonde is more, a blonde, like an overweight person, can still be a person with, as you so rightly say Nicole, intelligence, wit, empathy and charm just as much as a person who has brown, black, red, white hair.

    These so called "jokes" are not jokes at all and they demean the people they are about. They also show up the people who use these jokes, whether about overweight people or blondes, to be unkind, unfeeling and thoughtless people. - 6/26/2016   3:24:31 AM
  • 142
    I totally agree that the inner work is essential, and that physical health is very much intertwined with emotional health. A profound and uplifting blog. I really miss Coach Nicole, and wish her well wherever she is! - 6/26/2016   1:30:29 AM
  • 141
    Good for you! I enjoyed your story and your struggle. It is sometimes so hard to just love and accept ourselves. I don't remember a time as a child that I did not realize I was overweight, but had no idea what to do about it. Once I became a teenager, I was able to learn what to do to lose weight and still be healthy. I recently looked back at pictures of myself in my 30's after having 2 children and was stunned by how I looked. I looked good! I looked healthy! And to this day, I still hear those voices telling me I'm fat. And I am still working on accepting myself. - 6/26/2016   12:53:26 AM
  • 140
    The fact that people would trade their life and health for being not overweight makes me want to cry. I myself am guilty from such thoughts. I just have one thing to say: Love yourself and don't bother yourself with what insensitive people think about you or anything else.
    Work hard, y'all. - 6/26/2016   12:28:09 AM
  • 139
    Thank you so much for this blog. I am short and obese, and I too am working on my self confidence, self-love, unconditional self-acceptance exactly as I am.
    But even taking into account that I am working on every aspect of myself, I too would gladly give up 10 years of my life to be within a healthy BMI for the rest of my life. - 6/26/2016   12:26:47 AM
  • 138
    Thank you so much for posting this article. Amazing and you are a true inspiration for me and many others. The negativity about body images has driven many of us on binges, starvation and over exertion to the body. - 5/27/2016   9:11:21 PM
    thank you for having the courage to share your story. I hope mine ends like that. thanks for the encouragement. - 3/16/2016   8:30:48 PM
  • 136
    Thank you for sharing. You have given me a different perspective to look at. While I look in the mirror and accept myself and while developing of healthier habits, I will in turn have a more satisfactory transformation. Thanks again... - 2/29/2016   3:02:10 PM
  • LAP1958
    Thank you so much for posting this.
    - 2/19/2016   8:40:57 AM
  • 134
    Holy smoke, I never knew you were anything but your slim, trim self. Knowing this makes me like you and your workout videos even more. Thanks so much for sharing. Liking myself is something I am working on. - 2/8/2016   10:47:40 AM
  • 133
    Thank you for sharing and a lot of what you wrote is true of me too. - 10/8/2015   9:08:03 AM
  • 132
    You are such an inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing your story! - 5/8/2015   6:39:10 AM
  • 131
    This is so true. I am hitting my 2 year sp anniversary soon and I'm proud to report I've lost 70lbs! Only a 40 lbs loss from my start weight because I gained 30lbs after I signed up for sp.. thats because I didn't really love myself enough to really start 2 years ago, just recently is when I saw this whole process to be more about self love rather than loathing. SP has taught me the mantra "I don't exercise because I hate my body, I exercise because I love it" thanks sp - 2/14/2013   1:29:07 PM
    I think this has some truth to it. I find when you try to lose weight we get impatient and the self loathing of how we look at that moment really affects our motivation and will power. So if you accept yourself can enjoy life and the journey without hating yourself every step of the way. Great article!!! - 11/12/2012   9:44:22 PM
  • 129
    I am surprised and disappointed and strongly disagree with the negative comments here, that this this blog is in someway lacking the total picture or is deficient, such as, "just "loving oneself" alone - in and of itself - does not help anybody lose weight.", and, the one a few comments below it. I did not read them all, just a few, so I hope they are the exception to the rule.

    I love this blog as it verbalizes very well the inner struggle many of us have.

    FlyLady says FLY-ing means Finally Loving Yourself. And when you do, everything else, with work added, falls into place. My Journey mirrors Coach Nicole's in several aspects: tried everything, gave up, felt relief of a weight lifted, then found SP and slowly started losing, eventually, over time.

    "It wasn't until I started to accept myself and love myself that my depression, my low confidence, and my weight problem began to melt away. As I accepted myself as I was—overweight—and the fact that I may be this size (or heavier) for the rest of my life, somehow a weight was lifted off of me. I fully accepted then that I may be overweight forever and was OK with it. I was OK just how I was, and everyone else could take it or leave it." That's it, EXACTLY. To the naysayers: you clearly don't know what the rest of us are talking about. Don't assume we're wrong. Instead, assume there is something YOU DON'T KNOW. So while you're entitled to your opinion, you can't tell us we don't know what we're talking about, because WE DO. You might consider o-p-e-n-ing your mind, and helping and encouraging those whose SparkJourneys are different from yours, instead of telling us we're wrong, especially since we're not. - 3/22/2012   8:53:19 PM
  • 128
    I get what you mean - when we feel good about ourselves, we are more proactive and more willing to improve and look better. But, just "loving oneself" alone - in and of itself - does not help anybody lose weight. To do that requires putting a concerted effort, diligence, tenacity and patience behind that feeling. Only then can one accomplish a goal. - 10/22/2011   11:11:08 PM
  • 127
    Good read. One that is adaptable in many areas.

    Thanks. - 10/2/2011   2:38:03 PM
  • 126
    great blog - 10/1/2011   10:52:01 PM
  • 125
    Great Blog! I think we usually treat others much better than we treat ourselves, which is very sad. Congratulations to your success other that negative thinking. You are a beautiful person!!! Thanks for sharing. - 9/30/2011   1:10:06 PM
  • 124
    I hear what you're saying, but clearly it is not that simple. I write health information (newsletters, etc) for a health system and am reminded with every article that I am putting my health at risk by being overweight.

    I come on Sparkpeople - a great source of inspiration - but right now I am also viewing an ad for some DVDs that will help me lose "15 lbs in 30 days" and a piece of home gym equipment that will help me "lose weight fast."

    How can I accept myself as I am when I know how detrimental it can be to my health and I am constantly reminded that I need to do something about it?

    And I am very self-aware of my feelings and what has triggered them over the years - but that does not make them and my need to comfort myself with food any easier to control.

    I don't want to be Debbie Downer here and your blog is very self-revealing, but 100-200 words in a blog are not going to provide all the answers.
    - 9/30/2011   10:39:11 AM
  • LIZZYA06
    I do have depression & bipolar, I would much rather be overweight (which I am) than have this mental disease with the judgement & stigma that goes with it. People automatically think you are either very crazy & will act out at any moment or they say just think happy thoughts, or I don't know why you're depressed, there is nothing to be depressed about, they say they understand but they don't really. I do know what you are saying about the low self esteem & negative self talk, I try to do positive self talk myself, it works to a point, but the disease is still there. - 9/20/2011   7:33:57 PM
  • IVY_13
    I tried this. But it doesn't work for me. I've been trying to do this for 5 years. - 9/16/2011   12:15:06 AM
  • 121
    Great blog. Thanks for sharing. - 9/11/2011   6:24:35 PM
  • 120
    I absolutely agree! Thank you for sharing. Self love is the most powerfull healing tool and is always available to us. Thank you so much for the reminder. - 9/5/2011   9:28:01 PM
  • 119
    Fantastic news Nicole and oh so true!

    Thank you for sharing this WOW post - 9/5/2011   2:08:13 PM
    WOW!!! Thank you for the post. I guess that is the next thing I really need to work on. But like anything else, it can be done. Thank you for posting and giving me sooooooooooo much to think about. If it worked for you, then it should work for me too!! :)
    Hope you all have a great day!!! - 9/3/2011   5:55:02 PM
    Wonderful blog! How true! hank you so much for the encouragement and inspiration.
    Jan - 9/1/2011   2:59:55 PM
  • 116
    Thanks for the inspiration! - 8/31/2011   10:55:32 PM
    So well said!! It is so hard to be a "best friend" to ourselves, encouraging and nurturing ourselves as we would someone very special and important to us. If you think about it, when everyone lets you down, who do you have left? Most if not all of my life I have realized that if I want something done, I have to do it myself. No one is going to rescue me and do it for me. That drive, that will, and that love all have to come from me. I am starting to feel differently about me...and that is where the true change, as you said, makes things happen! - 8/31/2011   10:15:18 AM
  • JAY75REY
    I like KOKOBA's comment...that even if you don't lose weight, learning to love and accept yourself is the key to happiness. I am still learning that every day. To love myself and be comfortable in the skin I'm in, to be fully alive and connected to the universe. I'm happy for you Coach Nicole; you're still a young person and will have many more experiences in life that will test your inner strength and self-esteem. Be strong! - 8/30/2011   11:48:50 PM
  • 113
    Thank you so much for your testimony. I could hardly believe that this was really you. This is a real incentive to employ some positive prophecy toward myself. I find that extremely difficult to do. The bad stuff is always easier to believe. This was some great encouragement! - 8/30/2011   6:25:26 PM
    I felt like I was reading about myself!! Thanks so much for this blog!! I have been struggling lately and just keep beating myself up! This blog was an awakening of sorts! Thanks!
    Maria - 8/30/2011   5:19:36 PM
    Thank you sooooooomuch Coach. We all need our eyes open up sometimes. What a Blog. Loved it. - 8/30/2011   3:53:00 PM

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