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Losing Weight May Not Improve Your Self-Image

Losing Weight May Not Improve Your Self-Image

by Michele Benza, Contributor to Exercise/Fitness on

Surprised? Well, I am here to set the record straight! In May, I was an invited guest on The Eating Free Internet Talk Radio show. Together with hosts, Manuel and Sarah, we have given the matter much discussion, and we have come to the conclusion that losing weight may not improve self-image.

Think about it: how many people embark on a weight loss journey hoping to boost their self-image? And how many reach their goals only to find that they still have the same beliefs about their image and self-worth? So what is a person to do? Psychotherapist Jeff Benson explains the psychological component of self-image and what you can do to boost yours.

He says that the main reason why most overweight people want to lose weight is because they want to improve their self-image. However, many of those who have dropped the weight and decreased their clothes size, sometimes even by several sizes, still have a difficult time improving their self-image. Why? Because the mindset does not match the body.

After the weight loss and the drop in sizes they sometimes still see a ‘heavy’ person in the mirror although they are now thin. People that have lost the weight are sometimes disconnected with reality. Where is it coming from? Perhaps during childhood, they may have adopted inaccurate ideas and perceptions from family and friends, and therefore they think that is what they still are, ‘a fat kid.’ This belief will stay with them even after the weight loss and all the hard work it takes to attain their new figure. They think that way because inside they still believe they are fat even after they have lost the weight. This is what’s called ‘self-image’ and this self-image reflects on their self-esteem.

To take action and change the perception that they have of themselves, they need to shift their thinking. Benson encourages us to modify these beliefs with the following steps:

• Read self-help books

• Be pro-active and notice negative thoughts, and change thinking

• Draw a picture of yourself before and after the weight loss

• Draw a picture of how you believe people see you now

• Use mantras all over the house: ‘I have lost that many pounds’

• Display pictures of yourself before and after the weight loss

• Buy new clothes and remove the old ‘big’ ones

These tips will help you to shift your thinking because, after all, it is not what the scale says, it is about what your mind tells you.

Once the self-image has been improved and you can see yourself for who you really are, your self-esteem and self-image will increase as well.

When the psychological aspect of the weight loss is resolved, it becomes easy to update your physical appearance. Trying on new clothes is invigorating and exciting. A new color or cut in your wardrobe is an adventure, and your favorites are not the clothes that make you feel “comfortable” but the ones that you truly feel beautiful in.My first recommendation to someone who has lost weight and thus dropped in sizes is to do a clean out of the wardrobe and get rid of the pieces that have become too large. Keeping the ‘large’ outfits is an open invitation for pounds to return. Getting rid of the ‘large’ outfits is an enticement to continue the discipline of losing weight.

When the ‘fat’ kid who is now the ‘slim’ kid will wear well-fitted, appropriate clothing, I can assure you that the self-worth will take a huge step forward.

I have said many times before and will repeat it again: no matter what the scale says, no matter the size tag in our garments, we are all beautiful. We all have great features that beg to be enhanced; we all have flaws that need to be camouflaged.

Read more: Alternative Therapies, Beauty, Body Image, Fashion, Fitness, Health, Women's Health, , , , ,

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12:20AM PDT on Mar 16, 2013

this article is so on point, thanks

3:36AM PST on Mar 5, 2012


8:23PM PST on Dec 5, 2011


2:11PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

I lost 25 pounds and recently cleaned out my closet, and I feel great.

6:23AM PDT on Nov 5, 2011

this is so me. i went from being a size AU14 (US12) to an AU6 (US2) and i still felt so fat. there was nothing i could do about it. i felt obese and even cried when i looked in the mirror. over the past few months i've gone up one size but i feel so much better, because i'm just not placing my self-worth in the hands of the scales. it's not worth it. the only reason i ever was so desperate to be 'skinny' was because of how much pressure there is anyway. if i wasn't constantly being compared to stick-insects i could just eat, drink and be merry. which i'm doing now. :D

10:36AM PDT on Nov 4, 2011

Thanks for this...should be sent to schools to read!

12:54AM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

For people fond of eating, to feel deprived because of intake restrictions is difficult to handle.

8:58AM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

thanks for sharing!

8:49AM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

Thank You for this article! I am so glad that a few years back weight loss programs broadcast on TV were required to exclude the statement that losing weight made one happy!


2:59PM PDT on Oct 29, 2011

I was expecting this outcome. This is just another example of missing the mark. Physical appearances may help, but they're often artificial--they can't solve the real problem.

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