Body Acceptance and Weight Loss: Love Your Body, Lose Weight

If you’re overweight or obese, you are quite likely not that happy about it. More than 66% of Americans struggle with this every day.  We turn to rigid solutions such as strict diet and fitness regimens or just give up completely and hate ourselves even more.

But that very attitude of rigidity and self-loathing can be our biggest reason for being overweight.  A new British study shows that loving yourself and establishing some self-acceptance can help you lose weight.

The study looked at two groups of people over a one-year period.  One group got the traditional weight loss counseling of diet and exercise guidelines.  The other group participated in a 30-week program where the topics of self-acceptance, emotional eating, exercise, etc. were discussed weekly.  The results?  The control group lost 2% of their body weight, the test group lost 7%.  Pretty big difference, isn’t it?

This dovetails with an article I read in this month’s Prevention.  It was talking about the folks at Green  Mountain at Fox Run and their somewhat radical program called HAES (Health at Every Size).  The idea behind HAES is that you don’t stop living your life while you “wait to be thin.”  Instead you learn to move more because it feels good, and through intuitive eating you learn to listen to your body and give it what it craves.

Over time people who follow the HAES method drop the french fries for salad and naturally choose leaner cuts of meat and smaller portion sizes to boot.  The scale isn’t important, only how good the person feels.

I have been aware of intuitive eating for a while now. It’s always amusing to me to watch my son do it naturally.  No one’s messed with his system yet.  We never force him to finish his meal and just last week, on the hottest day in 86 years in Boston, he ate half his ice cream and threw out the rest.  I just thought that was brilliant.  I hope he keeps it up.

Most of us have lost that ability to read our bodies, but it’s actually fairly easy to get back to it.  The hard part is the leap of faith you have to make that your body will send you the proper cues.  We eye our tummies suspiciously, so how are we supposed to trust our gut?

Have you gone through this process?  Let go of dieting and the scale and instead turned to your body for food advice?  Have you started moving more not because you need to lose weight but because it feels good?  Let me know your thoughts.