Your Weight Doesn’t Define Your Self Worth

How much body fat you have, your age, your bra size, your waist circumference, or any other number does not define you.

That sentence is resoundingly opposite of what you read in health and fitness magazines, diet books, and see on infomercials. We’re led to believe from a young age that how we look is overwhelmingly important. And guess what. There are myriad creams, pills, powders, programs, and procedures to help you manipulate the appearance of your body!

You need to lose weight.

You need a perkier butt and boobs.

You need to fit into a certain pair of jeans.

Lose fat and reach your goal weight and you’ll finally be happy!

Those statements are shouted at us repeatedly on a daily basis.

This is a resonating theme of health and fitness: never be satisfied with how you look. You can always look better. You can always lose more weight. But this message is anything but healthy. Health and fitness is packaged beautifully. It’s a lovely box with shiny wrapping paper and a gorgeous, dazzling bow on top. Feverishly unwrap it, fling off the lid and what do you see? An image you’re compelled to aspire to. You’ll be driven out of a state of discontentment with your current physique to work longer and diet harder so you can inch closer to that image of “health” displayed neatly in the box.

This — changing how we eat and move our bodies because we’re not satisfied with how our body looks — is not a gift we should want, but it’s the one most often shoved in our lap, whether we ask for it or not.

“Work hard to change the appearance of your body until you get closer to society’s ideals and what you weigh, what size jeans you wear, and other numbers are vital to your self-esteem and value as a human being” is the message entering our ears and eyes every single day.

Health and fitness, it seems, is about saying, “Yes, I dislike my body so I’ll do whatever needs to be done to change it, and then I’ll be happy!”

The Facts

Let’s cover these two important facts first.

  1. Wanting to shed a few pounds or having a substantial amount of weight to lose does not make you an inferior woman.
  2. Being at a healthy body weight or having perky boobs or possessing other physical endowments does not make you a superior woman.
Add to this meme, “A certain size or shape does not make you inferior.

Harness these facts personally and extend them to every woman.

The appearance of your body does not determine your worth.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose fat or change the appearance of your body. After all, it’s your body so you can do whatever you please with it. However, we need to stop valuing ourselves based on the number glaring up at us when we step on the scale. We need to stop chanting, “I’ll finally be happy once I reach my goal weight!” because there’s a good chance you won’t be happy. You’ll more than likely find something else that needs to be “improved” or changed.

If you do reach your goal of a lower body weight, that does not increase your value as a human. Likewise, if you fail to achieve your goal that does not decrease your value. It means that the path you took didn’t work, so you need to try something different. Learn from that experience (Why didn’t I reach my goal?), learn what you can from it (I didn’t lose weight because I tried another crazy diet that was too strict and unrealistic), and commit to taking positive actions (I won’t do another crazy diet; I’ll focus on the bare essentials — eat well and move my body in an enjoyable way — and make the process enjoyable so I’m not deprived and miserable.)

With this approach it’s about the process, and not the final goal. Your happiness is not dependent upon reaching the goal because you’re committed to enjoying the process.

Numbers Don’t Define You

Here’s a not-so-gentle way to put things into perspective. If you were told you only had six months to live (yes, I know how trite this cliche is, but bare with me) would you immediately think, “Nooooo! I need more time to lose weight and get visible abs!”? Chances are the appearance of your body wouldn’t even crack the top 100 things you thought about during that Oh Shit! Moment.

You would think about the people you love. The memories you’ve yet to create. You would likely ask if you made a difference in this world and if it’s better because you were in it. You’d think about the amazing things you did, and perhaps regret the things you didn’t do. But I bet neither you or anyone else would go to their grave wishing they would have decreased their waist circumference by a few more inches first.

And while I can only speak for myself, I know the last thing I want someone to say at my funeral is, “Her body fat percentage was on point,” or some similar comment about my physical appearance.

What, Then, is the Solution?

This doesn’t mean we should say, “Hey, we’re all going to die someday so let’s just do whatever the heck we want and blah, blah, blah” as we howl “YOLO!” and approach our lives with reckless abandon.

Taking care of yourself and improving your health is a worthy endeavor, but we should change our approach to achieving those goals and vow not to value ourselves by any number.

Stop valuing yourself and hinging your self worth on a set of numbers.

Commit to enjoying the process, as explained above.

Can you imagine … what would happen if we used health and fitness (e.g., eating well in a simple way and moving frequently in ways we enjoy) as a tool to become the best version of ourselves? What if we did these things to improve our quality of life and discover the amazing things our bodies can do? What would happen if we valued ourselves by what we do in our everyday lives, strive to do a bit better each day, and encourage others to do the same?

What if we focused on becoming more instead of trying to be less and made health and fitness about empowerment, not punishment? What if we allowed weight loss to be a side effect from getting stronger via strength training because it’s fun and eating well because it makes us feel great? What if, instead of being hyper critical about ourselves, we liberally practiced self-compassion?

You are not your weight.

You are not your body fat percentage.

You are not your bra size, the weight on the barbell, or any other number.

If you want to lose fat, build muscle, or simply discover what incredible feats your body can perform, great! But don’t define yourself by your current state or once you achieve those goals.

Use health and fitness as a tool so you can live a more awesome, higher quality life. Use more important measures (e.g., the value you add to this world, what you create, how you treat others, etc) to assess your self worth.

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