How Loving Myself Led to Losing Weight

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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thank you for sharing Report
MJ7DM33 2/7/2021
Good read! Thanks for sharing! Report
CATNAP6291 2/7/2021
thksan Report
PATRICIAAK 12/18/2020
:) Report
3863SMILES 9/8/2020
I struggle with self sabotage and loving myself, have come a long way this year though. It all starts in the mind to change... Report
SNUZYQ2 7/24/2020
So very well-written and inspiring. Thank you for sharing this! Report
KATHYJO56 7/10/2020
Congratulations-The same thing worked for me Report
Your blog was very inspiring. Report
Great message in this article. I am trying to be this way! Report
Great message. Once I decided to make a change for me I became more determined to succeed. You’ve got to learn to love yourself Report
I needed to see this article this morning. My weight has ballooned up to number I didn't never want to see again. I will continue to fight to be in the health I deserve to be in. Report
Great message!!! Thanks!!! Report
Very valuable advice - thank you! Report
Thank you so much, AWESOME Blog! Report
I am currently in the weight loss struggle but 5 yesrs pf my.lofe to be "thin" no way! I can buckle down and get this umder control in 1-2 years but it requores ACTION not just fantasy on my part. Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
Thank you for being so open. Sadly, I relate with that also. Report
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Losing weight puts a weight on us. Report
We have to start with ourselves, SparkFriend! Whoo, hoo and way to go! Report
Thank you Nicole for your inspiring story Report
I thought this article was very helpful and definitely rang true for me in light of my own experience. Thanks so much for sharing this with so many of us (especially women) who struggle with self-esteem related to image and the (often incorrect) perceptions of how others see us! Report
Thank you for sharing this. I'm sure it will help many people. Report
Thank you for this inspirational article Report
Thank you for sharing your story. You are such an amazing motivator for me. Now it's time for my run! Report
My new mantra is...self love is not about weight loss. Thank you for the insight. Report
Thanks for an inspiring story and for sharing it with us. Report
thank you for sharing your story! Report
Thank you for the motivational article. Report
Thank you for sharing your feelings. You are such an inspiration to all of us. Report
Thanks for sharing Nicole. Very motivational! Report
This is an Awesome article. Very motivational for me.Thanks for the post. Report
This is just what I needed to read today. Thanks for sharing! Report
Thank you, Nicole, for your inspiration! My own worst experience was when a man I consider to be overweight (and not a very good person for making such comments about others) fat-shamed me publicly. I was humiliated and told myself that if a guy like him thought I was fat and ugly gosh I must be much, much worse. I am still fighting my great feelings of shame to this day. Report
I have struggled with my weight all of my life basically, starting at the age of 18 when my mother wanted to have me attend WW with her so that she would have support. Unfortunately, I had to be a member too to attend, and that was my downfall. Back then, in the 1960s WW was totally different than it is today.

But guess what? I never learned how to eat to fuel my body. It was always cut calories and exercise. But then when you hit a plateau, it's okay shake up your routine and exercise more or harder. It NEVER worked. The body rebels when it thinks it's starving. And so for many years I have been obese weighing about 202 pounds.

But with all the stress of caring for a husband who passed away 4 years ago yesterday, from bile duct cancer, (one hair away from pancreatic cancer and having the Whipple done at John Hopkins), and then selling the house to downsize, over the past 8 years I was living off of stress hormones.

And eating 1200 calories a day was not doing me any good at all, not even losing weight.

Finally after all these years with my younger daughter's wedding coming up in May 2018 and me having a papilloma removed from my left breast in October 2016, (no it wasn't cancer), I decided to hired a Registered Dietician who did an InBody Mass and hair analysis on me.

I was 50% fat which was bad, but 60% muscle, which was good considering my age. But my hair analysis showed that I was sorely lacking in vitamins and minerals, especially in magnesium.

She showed me how to use the cronometer online and has me eating 25 grams of protein at every meal along with 50 grams of carbs at every meal with an emphasis on "roots and fruits". And to stay at or below the fat range which is 41.5 grams for the entire day.

And my calorie range is 1443 to 1600 now instead of 1200.

I am still a work in progress. The only exercise that I am doing right now is walking, either outside, at the mall or on my treadmill in my condo.

However, I am eating more food that I have ever before and eating all day long and I have lost 9.5 pounds in one month.

It's so sad that many people think that they have to eat less and exercise more when they need to eat smart and enjoy life.

The food industry has done a whopper on the public.
I eat basically whole foods, and stay away from the processed foods.
I use ghee, and refined coconut oil as needed but watch my fats.

I eat ricotta cheese, hard cheeses, eggs, 2% milk, and shellfish, (either scallops or shrimp), plus potatoes both white and sweet, and sometimes I eat the sourdough bread which is fermented and easier to digest, not to mention all the veggies and different types of fruits. And I tend to eat organic now. Sure it may be more expensive but I would much rather pay it out in food and to the Registered Dietician than to have to go to the doctor's all the time.

I am feeling so much better now and thank God for a RD who knows what she is doing in teaching me that I can be healthy.

She stresses that if we eat for health, the weight will come off, and she is so right.

I weigh 193.5 now and would like to be down to 145 or less by May of 2018 and I am sure that whatever I weigh at that time, I will be more than satisfied because I am eating to live. Report
It's funny; when I was obese I didn't hate myself or talk trash to myself. But I also wasn't happy that I was obese knowing that it severely impacted my health and well being. For me, it has to be some kind of balance. I only lost weight and kept it off when I stopped dieting and started focusing on healthy habits. Report
Inspiring! Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
Thank you for sharing. Report
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. Report
There is a lot of truth for everyone in your story. Love me. Report
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. Report
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. Report
Thank you for "paying it forward" and helping so many others! Your story is an inspiration. Report
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! Report
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. Report
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! Report
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. Report