The ten pathways to loving your body into slimness

The way we see ourselves and interact with others can have a huge impact on our ability to maintain a healthy weight. Below, psychologist Dr Katie Richard outlines 10 ways you can help change your mind about your body:

Love Your Body Slim Pathway #1: change negative self-talk

Become aware of negative self-talk, then stop it. Identify today how often you put yourself down. For example, when you make a mistake, do you say, 'I'm such an idiot.' If so, be aware of it and make a change so that you talk to yourself as you would talk to your best friend. For example, say: 'So, I've made a mistake, that's okay. I have learned from this. I'm still okay;. I am still good enough. I am still worthy.'

Love Your Body Slim Pathway # 2: change negative 'body' talk

Catch yourself every time you are critical about your body. Then talk to your body (or body part that you particularly dislike) as though it is your best friend, e.g. 'I love you despite your faults; I accept you as you are.' Imagine that you separated your self-worth from your weight/shape. How would you feel? What other qualities do you have? Stop body checking and comparing yourself with others. Remember that models and actresses in magazines have their photos retouched and are therefore NOT accurate images of a 'perfect' body. If this is a major problem for you, spend some time with the exercises in the later chapter 'Love your body as it is'. 

Love Your Body Slim Pathway # 4: avoid negative people

Imagine your life if you spring cleaned your life of people who frequently upset you, sabotage your success, criticise you or use you. The first step is to identify any and all abusers whether it's the boss, your work colleagues, your relatives/in-laws or your so-called ‘friends’ by identifying what it is that they are doing that sabotages your success: for example, you have told someone person you are on a weight loss mission and are currently avoiding chocolate but this person gives you chocolates for your birthday. Or someone who makes you run errands all the time, making you miss your exercise session. I understand that it may not be possible to remove yourself from all of these sabotagers or abusers, but at least find a way to avoid or assert yourself with your abusers/sabotagers. If you find yourself in a position of being used a great deal by others, decide today whether this is helpful or not. If it's working against you and your slimming goal, pledge as of today to respond differently. Whenever somebody asks you to do something, identify if you are doing it for approval or whether you are doing it for genuine reasons. Pledge to do something for someone only if it's mutually beneficial rather than simply to get approval (especially if you do not like the person). Letting go of or finding a better way to cope with people who chronically (or even occasionally) abuse you, can be a difficult process. If you are struggling with this, discuss it with your therapist. 

Love Your Body Slim Pathway # 5: assert yourself

When you are a door-mat, people will walk all over you. If you assert yourself – whether it's food related or not, you will gain respect and your body will thank you for it too. If you are struggling to assert yourself, discuss it in therapy with your psychologist. Know your bill of rights. Never, ever eat (more) simply to please someone or avoid displeasing someone. Refusing an offer of (more) food is not rude. It's your right. Think of it as someone offering chocolate to a diabetic. You can just say no.

Love Your Body Slim Pathway # 6: accept positive feedback

Whenever you get a compliment, accept it. Start by just responding with 'thank you!'

Love Your Body Slim Pathway # 7: ask others for help

Do you value yourself enough to ask others to help you? Example: ask your partner or your teenagers to do the cooking.

Love Your Body Slim Pathway # 8: remind yourself how wonderful you truly have been and are

Imagine if you walked into a room that was full of people who reminded you of everything you've ever felt ashamed about, guilty about, depressed about .... how would you feel? My guess is that you would feel ashamed, guilty and depressed! But this is what you may be doing at the moment with your own thoughts. Thus, remove that negative picture. Instead imagine walking into a room which was full of people who reminded you of everything you've ever done that you feel proud, happy and fulfilled. Whereas this may not be possible in real life, one way you can anchor positivity in your life is to keep reminders around your home and work environment of how wonderful you are: this could be through photographs of friends or family members you love, thank you cards you have received, certificates – anything that puts you in a positive mindset.

Love Your Body Slim Pathway # 9: participate in a self-esteem workshop (live or through manuals)

If you are struggling to love your body and build up your self-esteem, inquire about an Assertiveness/Self-Esteem workshop or go to www.cci.health.wa.gov.au onto the Assert Yourself and Improving Your Self-Esteem pages.

Love Your Body Slim Pathway # 10: use hypnosis and other mind-power methods

You will find that Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), hypnosis and other mind power methods are able to assist you in improving your self-esteem. For example, EMDR is a method that alleviate the damage done by a critical parent who instilled guilt or shame in you.

Edited extract from psychologist Dr Katie Richard’s new book, Weight Off Your Mind, a step-by-step guideline to stop binge eating, lose weight and improve body image.  Find out more at  www.weightoffyourmind.net    

Dr Katie Richard is a Clinical Psychologist/Hypnotherapist/EMDR Practitioner and a USA-trained Clinical Psychologist and a graduate of the Academy of Hypnotherapy (UK, 1991). She has presented the results of her research of her clinical trial of her unique treatment for Binge Eating Disorder and weight problems at conferences in Europe and Australia (including the Eating Disorder and Obesity Conferences). She has been published in the Drug & Alcohol Review and is the producer of the Hyp2Hip Slimming DVD. She presents her personal and 16+ years of experience with weight management with solid scientific evidence.