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How Self Image and Self Esteem Affect Weight Loss

Self-image is your perception of yourself as reflected from others' perception of you, and your observation of your own effectiveness.By successfully changing your behavior positively,self-image improves naturally.The kinds of goals you set for yourself determine in large part your self-esteem.Self-esteem is increased when you take credit for even the smallest success you achieve.Some people,especially those who have had a weight problem for a long time,or who have not been particularly successful in previous attempts to control their weight,find that their self-image gives them trouble.Learning to manage your self-image is an important aspect of weight management. Most people discover that their self-image improves gradually as they lose weight.

 You may find, as you lose weight, that your self-image no longer matches your physical appearance.As other people in your environment begin to treat you differently, you may not know how to act or what to say.Perhaps you cannot imagine yourself as a thin person and consequently feel uncertain about how a thin person would behave in a situation.Fear of being thin or fear of regaining weight is common.You have doubts and may feel self-conscious.It takes a lot of courage and work to cope with these feelings, and to develop the necessary skills to manage self-image.In addition to setting appropriate goals and looking for success, here are some important ways to increase self-esteem and to improve self-image.

  1) Change what you say to yourself about yourself.Thoughts have an important influence on behavior.Be sure to notice your successes and to congratulate yourself for them.Take frequent opportunities to tell yourself what a terrific person you are, or how well you are managing your new lifestyle.Set up some cues to remind yourself to say something good about yourself.Decide that every time you look at a clock and will tell yourself something good. Forget about constructive criticism—be positive! 

2) Use imagery to try on new roles or new situations. Mental rehearsal of new roles or new situations is useful for getting a better picture of how a thin person would behave.Imagine yourself going to a smaller size clothing rack and trying on clothes. Imagine yourself being thin and feeling confident.Imagine going to a holiday dance and not overeating. Invent some imagery processes to help you get accustomed to your new image. 

3) Work with important others to get their cooperation. Ask loved ones to withhold constructive criticism and to notice your achievements.Discuss your concerns about getting thinner or maintaining weight loss with someone you feel would be understanding. See if both you and they can arrive at some ways they could support your new self-image. 

4) Develop new social skills.Learning to be more assertive takes time and practice. You might consider taking an adult education course in assertion training or you might get a group of people together to work with a book on assertiveness training (I recommend Bower & Bower's Asserting Yourself).

 5) Get involved in activities that take you outside yourself. Instead of dwelling on the difficulties of managing a weight problem,get involves in activities that you like and that will provide an opportunity to demonstrate to you how effective you really are.Make a list of things you used to do. Choose one you would like to do now.Then try to get involved with other people so you can refocus your attention outside yourself. For instance,join a club or do some volunteer work.

  6) Take care of other problem areas in your life.Many times we have problems that need attention. Perhaps you could seek some kind of counseling,or consider taking classes in stress management or time management.Perhaps you should get involved in a serious organized exercise program.Take stock of your personal problems and decide how to deal with them. Then take some positive action. 

7) Begin developing a new self-definition.Begin today to define yourself differently. Perhaps you have previously thought of yourself as a person who just wasn’t able to manage his/her weight,or as a person who was weak-willed or poorly motivated about your weight.

Begin to think of yourself as a person who now knows how to manage a weight problem and is following an expert-designed program.To err is to be human, and you should acknowledge that there will be setbacks from time to time; nevertheless,know you are ultimately in control of your behavior, and therefore in control of your weight problem. Change your self-definition towards that of a capable efficient human being.

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