Saturday, November 28, 2020

Step 1. Self-Acceptance

August 7, 2009 by  
Filed under HAES, Self Esteem

Last year I wrote a short series on my blog called 3 Steps to a Healthier YOU! In it I shared how I changed my thinking and my habits. This was Step 1 of the 3 things I changed about my approach to “dieting.”

I call this the chicken egg problem of weight loss. What comes first, happiness or healthiness? That is the question.

Many people believe once they hit an ideal body weight, size or shape they will find happiness. I disagree. Using myself as an example (which I will do in all of my writings) I was unhappy for years with my body, my habits and myself. I thought that what I wanted, what I needed, to be happy was to be thin or at least thinner. You would think this would be motivation enough to reach weigh loss goals but what actually happens is the need to be thinner causes an unhealthy relationship with food or exercise and the decisions you start to make become about losing weight, not about making healthy choices and being the best person you can be.

You may think, “well, losing the weight is the point isn’t it”? Well, sort of. Losing weight is a byproduct of being healthier. If you are making decisions purely based on the desire to be thin you may be making unhealthy decisions like limiting certain healthy foods, starving yourself or even going down the route of purging. These thing may make you thinner in the short term but they aren’t healthy and in essence you are setting yourself up to fail.

How do I know? I went through that cycle for 15 year. Starting in my pre-teens, all I wanted to be was “skinny”. That desire led me down dangerous paths of dieting that, in essence, made me fatter. The damage I did to my metabolism, body and mental state snowballed into gaining more and more weight after each weight loss attempt. I was in the classic yo-yo cycle of hell.

What broke me out of it? Well, as cheesy as it sounds, an 8lb 20oz little boy. After my son was born I was no longer obsessed with getting thinner. My focus shifted. I set my sights on getting healthier. I knew that I had to accept myself and move on from this ridiculous notion that I had to be thin to enjoy life, to be happy. If I didn’t I would start missing out on things with him and that was not acceptable. I also had the responsibility of teaching him how to live a healthy balanced life. How could I do that if I was doing unhealthy things just to reach some absurd “thin” body concept. Life was, is, happening no matter what my size and I had to, wanted to, live it!

So the first step on my path to a healthier me was self-acceptance.

I’m not kidding when I say, I literally looked in the mirror and said…

“Ok, Roni, that’s it. Look at you. This is YOU. And that’s OK. You are making changes to be a healthier, more active person. Your body will change in the process but you need to accept yourself now. It’s the only way.”

Having a good talk with myself was just the beginning, I also decided to start wearing things outside of my comfort zone. As uncomfortable as it was, I wore my maternity bathing suit on the beach with NO T-SHIRT. Instead of wearing clothes 3 sizes to big, I tried to wear the few items I had that would fit. I even wore a sleeveless shirt on a hike with my new baby boy. You’re thinking, “no big deal,” right?. Well, it was for this 29 year old who hid her arms, literally, for 15 years. I even feared being in a wedding as bridesmaid dresses always seem to be strapless. That one little action of wearing a tank top on a hot day was a simple way for me to practice self-acceptance.

That was over 3 years ago and it is still a daily battle to accept myself. Confidence can be learned but it must be practiced, especially by those of us that have body issues. I believe facing fears about my body was an important step towards self-acceptance and self-acceptance is an important step on your weight loss (healthy) journey. I spent too many years hiding my body in shame when I didn’t have anything to shameful about. This body is mine, no one else’s, and I wanted, needed to start respecting it. So I did.

<<Read Steps to a Healthier YOU! | Read Step 2 Move More>>



18 Responses to “Step 1. Self-Acceptance”
  1. scarlett says:

    By your reasoning, making healthier choices would make you thinner – something that isn’t necessarily true. It is possible to be fat and healthy despite what most people seem to think.

    • Mollie says:

      Possible yes, but it’s a rare occurrence. Though one may be in overall good health, being overweight at certain measurements still puts one at great risk for heart disease and type II diabetes, just to name a few. Sure, one can be fat and healthy, but the risk for such conditions and diseases are exponentially higher for overweight individuals, no matter how healthy they may be. No way around it, those risks are exponentially lower, and virtually non-existent for those in a “normal” weight category.
      Granted, I’m the last person to judge “normal” weight – I wrestled with some ass-kicking bulimia for 6 years and am only 2 years in recovery now, so admittedly my thoughts on body image are still rather skewed, though far better than they once were. But I maintain that one’s weight is related to health- though certainly one cannot be used as a direct barometer for the other.

      • greenbunny78 says:

        they did a study a few years ago that found that some “skinny” people have a surprising amount of fat surrounding their internal organs- which was the greater risk factor than simply being overweight.

      • Heather#2(?) says:

        I think you may have mistated your point. These risks aren’t virtually non-existent for thin folk. Most of the studies that find a higher risk, find a relative risk .5 times higher for overweight as opposed to normal people. To give you an idea of how small that is, smoking as opposed to non-smoking increases your risk by 20 times. (This is of course combined with the problem that some studies didn’t adjust for age, which is the highest factor in terms of things like heart disease and cancer)

        The most comprehensive studies have suggested that overweight (and even according to some studies obese) people live longer.

        Also, there are studies which have demonstrated health benefits for overweight individuals such as recovering better from heart attacks and cancer, less symptoms/problems with type 2 diabetes and dialysis to name a few.

        Some scientists now suggest that gaining weight is a symptom and not the cause of type 2 diabetes. (weight gain happening in the pre-diabetes phase).

        The biggest health risks consistently are with people who are classified as underweight.

        Finally, causation isn’t correlation. We have no frickin’ clue whether losing weight will actually reduce any of these risks. Similarly, we don’t know whether fat causes the health benefits or being underweight causes the health problems found.

    • ronisweigh says:

      @scarlett Your assuming I’m talking about losing weight to get to some absurd level of thinness. That’s not what I mean. To me it’s about losing the extra weight you may have put on by “dieting yourself fat” (at least it was for me) and having your body find it’s own happy weight.

  2. Karyn says:

    In a sense, losing the weight does bring one happiness. But not the happiness everyone thinks or seeks.

    I was my happiest with my looks when I was thinner. With thinness for me brings confidence which in turn makes me happier. Steady weight loss helps keep up the healthier eating which through a healthier body, automatically makes a persons moods happier. It does not however, make a crappy life happier or change the circumstances of one’s life such as a crappy marriage or dismal finances.

    But if weight loss helps to bring any happiness to a persons life in such hard and trying times, then I am all for it.

  3. greenbunny78 says:

    I think this is great. I struggle a LOT with self acceptance! I am very motivated by my kids to take care of me and to stop hating me- how can I hate someone they love so much??? But its hard. I think the hardest thing about trying to change ANYTHING about yourself- weight, health- ANYTHING- is battling that “I want it NOW” mentality. We want to change and have everything be different- even though that is NEVER how it works. And it can be frustrating and discouraging.

    Right now I am working on trying to be ok with my body as it is RIGHT NOW. I have stepped up my activity level a bit- but I am working on saying to myself “Its about how I FEEL, not what size jeans I pull on in the morning. I am a VERY active person- if I don’t loose any weight, I just need to be ok with my body as it is now, and stop putting myself down- stand tall and realize that I AM worthwhile”

  4. diana says:

    I know people that have lost a substantial amount of weight and were surprised that they still had their issues. One even says she still kind of sees a 300+ lb girl instead of a 145 lb girl. There’s a reason why we’re here (got there). You have to fix that and be ok with it rather than waiting to live your life onece your thin. Great post!

  5. McLauren84 says:

    I guess I don’t even know where to start. I’ve never felt confident or good about myself. In even my thinner days, I was afraid to flirt and confused when guys hit on me. I always thought they must be joking. I would intentionally shun male attention, then wonder why no guys approached me. Thankfully I met my current boyfriend, who restored my confidence a bit.

    I just don’t know where to start…I feel like I have so many issues with my body, I can’t even identify them. It’s just hard, I guess…

    • ronisweigh says:

      @McLauren84 – ALWAYS felt the same way. It is hard but I found that if to force yourself out of your comfort zone.. do the things you are not doing because you think your are too fat. Just DO them. Yeah… you may be uncomfortable but as you do it more and more you start to realize it just doesn’t matter.

  6. Heather#2(?) says:


    About self-acceptance, I’m pretty sure I agree with you. It’s weird but I think if you treat yourself the way someone who did accept themselves would, eventually you seem to start to develop the attitude also. Fake it til you make it.

    I’m glad you managed to treat yourself well and found acceptance in the process.

  7. Heather#2(?) says:

    Just another, slightly broader thought (which is related to this post but not solely about it). Looking through the posts up until now on the website, a large number of them are about our bodies. Why is women’s self-esteem so tied to bodies? Do you think it’s the same for men? Do you think it’s something we should try to change? If so, what would take it’s place?

    It’s interesting because we are so much more than our bodies (in fact, I’d venture to say that the person most people identify as “I” is kind of bodiless in a my mind, my soul, or my personality is me kind of way). Why then is self-esteem and acceptance so tied into what we see when we look in the mirror?

    • ronisweigh says:

      Heather – I think these are all AWESOME questions and ones that we are hear to try to answer. I’m going to propose to “the girls” we post about this and maybe all give out own responses.

      In short though…

      Why is women’s self-esteem so tied to bodies?

      Body and face I think as both are our first level of interaction with others.

      Do you think it’s the same for men?

      For some men.. yes. For the majority probably not as historically men were more judged on success then outward appearance. There is a lot of history and baggage we have from prior generations.

      Do you think it’s something we should try to change? If so, what would take it’s place? … Why then is self-esteem and acceptance so tied into what we see when we look in the mirror?

      I have NO idea. I’m pondering this one as i don’t think it is for all. Hmmmm I need to think. 🙂

      Thanks for the awesome comment!

  8. MizFit says:

    Do you think it’s the same for men?

    I actually do now.
    And its sad as I never think misery loves company & we’ve dragged men and boys down with us now.

    ESPECIALLY the boys (ok I just dont hang much with the menfolk :)). I spend lots of time in elementary schools talking about writing and it is HEART BREAKING hearing coming out of boys’ mouths exactly what we have been working to changed from GIRLS’ mouthes.

    and men? the ones I know now do feel pressure to be fit and MUSCLE BOUND/Mens fitness looking.

    a friends husband was downsized and when he went to an interview the interviewer informed him he’d need to LOSE WEIGHT were he hired.

    That he appeared NOT to care about himself and people would translate that to how he cared about his job!

    (whether it matters or not he was MAYBE 30 pounds over wt)

    • Melissa says:

      What a good observation, and good food for thought.

      Why is women’s self-esteem so tied to bodies? I think because our bodies are one thing we are fully in control of — we can’t control how others react to us, but we can control how we look. And like Roni said, it’s the first thing people “see” literally (our face/body) before we even open our mouths, so it’s probably why we’ve become so obsessed as a society.

      Do you think it’s the same for men? I agree, I think for some guys it really is the same. My husband sometimes bemoans his tummy, but does that stop him from eating sorbet or bread? No. He knows I love him regardless, and he’s physically fit and healthy.

      I know if I didn’t think about my body all the time, I could probably broker peace in the Middle East, raise a village … 😉 But seriously, it does take up a lot of my time — even subconsciously. And I do think it’s important to change that. We are worth more than the sum of our parts, but we’re judged by those parts, whether we like it or not. So until society stops obsessing … I think it will be a long road ahead. That said, we can all contribute to making self-esteem much more than about our bodies. Thinking outside our figures. I think that’s what our blog here will inevitably become — a way to think outside body image for self-esteem. We’ll see … this is a social experiment 🙂

      • Susan says:

        So until society stops obsessing … I think it will be a long road ahead.

        Women have been valued primarily for their looks since time began. Sure, attitudes have come a long way, but still…


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