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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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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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
thank you for having the courage to share your story. I hope mine ends like that. thanks for the encouragement. Report
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... Report
Thank you so much for posting this.
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. Report
Thank you for sharing and a lot of what you wrote is true of me too. Report
You are such an inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing your story! Report
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 Report
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 now...you can enjoy life and the journey without hating yourself every step of the way. Great article!!! Report
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."

Could.not.have.said.it.better. 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. Report
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. Report
Good read. One that is adaptable in many areas.

Thanks. Report
great blog Report
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. Report
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.
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. Report
I tried this. But it doesn't work for me. I've been trying to do this for 5 years. Report
Great blog. Thanks for sharing. Report
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. Report
Fantastic news Nicole and oh so true!

Thank you for sharing this WOW post Report
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!!! Report
Wonderful blog! How true! hank you so much for the encouragement and inspiration.
Jan Report
Thanks for the inspiration! Report
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! Report
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! Report
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! Report
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 Report
Thank you sooooooomuch Coach. We all need our eyes open up sometimes. What a Blog. Loved it. Report
This is great to read today, Nicole - a friend of mine posted a Van Morrison song - Someone Like You - and said she applied it to herself. When I did it, I had tears in my eyes, realizing how much I need to love myself more. We are all REALLY waiting for the TRUE US to rise up and be the real us, because we are awesome!
Youtube it -
Van Morrison - Someone Like You

xo Anita Report
Thank you for sharing!

It makes me think, though. In that statement "...I'd trade five years of my life to be thin" it's ironic, because essentially, in reality you *do* trade five years of your life to be overweight. Report
I love your story. I didn't realize that you were an overweight person for you are so slim now. I can relate. I forwarded this story to my daughter who is currently seeking help. Thanks for sharing.

Margaret Report
For the past year, I've watched myself gain wait effortlessly and hated myself more with each pound I put on. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for sharing this. I've tried so many ways to kick off losing weight and I fail each time, which puts me in a worse place everytime. Now, for the first time ever, I'm sure of where I need to begin! Thanks again, this really inspired me. Report
wow this is such an amazing article i really enjoyed reading it and everything is so true and i really think the same way you have to love ur self first to be happy with your self :) thankz Report
Very inspirational THANKS for sharing! Report
Thank you, Coach Nicole. Your blog and fellow Sparkers' comments remind me that self-acceptance and love come from the inside. Report
Hi Coach Nicole,
I forgot...thanks so much for reminding me what matters. I'm going to live, love, be! Report
Thank you for this article. I've recently began looking inside of me, to love me. I REALLY needed this. Thank you so much! Report
I have just recently realized that I have been thinking this way my whole life. I thought if I lost weight - then I would finally like myself. I would lose weight with that goal in mind, but no matter how much I lost it was never good enough. This time I have an entirely different perspective. I am going to take care of myself because I'm worth it. That sounds like a commercial for hair products I know but it's true. I'm not trying to make myself better or worth it. I'm doing it because I already am. Thanks so much for this article! Report
i applaud your strength in being able to love yourself. i dont even know how to begin.. i have hated myself for so long.. i dont know if it is something i can change. Report
I'll give it a try. That's the real battle, isn't it? Thanks for sharing these thoughts. All the best to you! :) Report
Nicole, thank you for this article. To look at the photos of you now I would never thing that you were a) overweight or b) without self esteem. Thank you for sharing this because it really really hits home for me and I am sure many others! Report
Struck a chord with me, and just goes to show you should never judge on appearances, I would never have thought that you would have had a weight problem Nicole. So thank you for sharing and you have helped me all ready on day one. I am also reading You can heal your life - Louise L Hay Report
You have to love yourself and know that you are worthy! Great eye-opener and thanx for the encouragement. You go, girl! Report
spot on. thank you Report
This is a great article, thanks for sharing Report
I've been overweight most of my life. The heaviest was over the past 6 years. I was large, uncomfortable, unable to do alot of things, hated buying a 3x clothing, and wasn't thrilled the way I looked in the mirror, so I did my best to choose clothing to help in anyway I can to look trimmer, etc. Never do I remember having thoughts that I hated myself. I hated being the largest in a room and not being able to buy cute, sexy pj's, and didn't want to be seen in a bathing suit in public until I noticed there were plenty others way larger than me in bikinis, rolls all over. Anyway, I have never hated myself, but I have been disappointed in my will power. I'm very pleased with the way I look 46 lbs later, toned some too. It's exciting and I still love me for who I am inside and out. Report
It's strange because I have lost the weight and still don't really love myself. I don't ever remember feeling that emotion for myself ever in my life. As a child I was sickly and very small for my age so always got called names like "shrimp" "weakling" "baby" and so I learned to stuff my feelings not with food but through violent outbursts that resulted in lots of bruises and as I aged broken bones in my hands.

My husband tried mightily to get me to see my own beauty and while I now accept compliments and don't down play them by saying "Thank you but....." I simply say "Thank you" and leave it there. I don't always believe the compliments and I don't know that I will ever love myself or be confident. I have a long way to go to over come 40 years of Eeyore thinking.

Your blog has given me food for thought thank you. I'd also like to thank Popeyeturtle for sharing his story. Maybe I need to go look at the childhood pictures I have around my own house now. Report
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