How many times have you beat yourself up about the number on your scale? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose a few pounds, but there is a problem with the level of shame many of us put on ourselves based solely on body image. What good is fitting into your “skinny jeans” if it’s at the cost of your own self-worth? Thankfully, a new study sheds light on how body positivity and weight loss can (and should) be achieved at the same time.
The research comes from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where authors observed 76 participants split into two different groups: One was only given things like healthy cooking tips and recipes, while the other was also given access to Weight Bias Internalization and Stigma (BIAS), a program designed to help combat negative weight-related thoughts, cope with weight-stigmatizing experiences, and increase self- and body-acceptance. They didn’t go into details about what they teach in the program, but we think mindful meditation, finding ways to be nice to yourself on “fat days,” and overcoming a fear of looking silly at the gym would all be worthy pursuits.
After six months, both groups were happy with their results, though the group with the BIAS program lost 4.5 percent of their starting weight, and those without it lost about 5.9 percent. The authors claim both groups also made improvements with other health metrics, like blood pressure. That said, there was one area in which the BIAS program out-performed the other — a significant decrease in self-devaluation.
In other words, they improved how much they value themselves versus those who were just given diet tips alone and still had negative self-images. What that boils down to is the fact that even if you are losing weight and feeling good about your results, you should probably also learn to accept your body regardless of what size it is in order to get rid of that toxic, self-hating mindset for good.
As lead author Rebecca Pearl, PhD, put it, “Weight loss and stigma reduction can seem like contradictory goals to some people. Our results, however, suggest that they can be complementary. We can promote both at the same time.”
Keep this in mind the next time you start to bully yourself about going up a size or a couple of numbers on the scale. We can change our weight, but to truly value ourselves, we need to leave all of that the shame behind.