A healthy weight starts with a beautiful body image

By Shayna Brouker • Published: November 1st, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Want to lose weight? Drop the dumbbells and step off the scale — start with taking a look in the mirror and loving your body, flaws and all. Celebrate your cellulite, triumph in your tummy and embrace your not-so-toned arms.

The subject of self-love has been a talking point in women’s magazines, daytime talk shows and self-help books for years, but now there’s science to back it up. A new study from the Technical University of Lisbon and Bangor University found that women who enrolled in a yearlong “behavioral intervention plan” that investigated the roots of overeating lost 5 percent more of their starting weight than the control group.

Half the women in the study, which was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, learned about the basics of general health like proper nutrition, stress management and the importance of taking care of yourself.

The other half, however, got a lesson in self-love with the behavioral intervention plan. They attended 30 weekly group sessions where they discussed exercise, emotional eating, gaining a positive body image and how to recognize and overcome personal barriers to weight loss. They also talked about tough topics like falling off the wagon — and how to get back on, a common downfall among dieters.

The women on the behavioral intervention plan found that the better their body image, the less they cared about its actual shape and size. What’s more, they were better able to self-regulate their eating habits compared with the control group — and they dropped more pounds, losing on average 7 percent of their starting weight compared to less than 2 percent for the control group.

A poor self-image, on the other hand, can contribute to overeating, binging and other unhealthy habits. So as like attracts like, be kind to yourself and your body will respond in kind.