How Does A Negative Body Image Affect Your Weight…and Life?

by Marsha Hudnall

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A Quick Body Image Quiz

  • When you eat a large meal and feel too full, do you start to think you’re fat?
  • When you’re in a bad mood, do you usually mentally criticize your body?
  • When you wear something unflattering, do you tend to blame it on your body size or shape?
  • Do you often find yourself thinking negatively about your body when you’re feeling stressed?

If you’re taking the time to read this article, you likely answered ‘yes’ to the above questions. You might also say, ‘So what if I have a poor body image? Most of the women I know don’t like their bodies!”

Body Image And Weight LossWhat most of us don’t completely understand, however, is that a negative body image actually interferes with our ability to lose weight and achieve the fit, healthy bodies we want. To say nothing of the disastrous impact it has on the quality of our lives.

Body Image And Weight Loss

According to the behavioral health therapists at Green Mountain at Fox Run, when our motivation is to lose weight because of our appearance, it doesn’t hold up. It works against us because we get depressed. We think we have too far to go, or things aren’t changing quickly enough. When we compare ourselves to others, we’re likely to give up right then.

Add to that our tendency to project our thoughts onto others. For example, we might think the person at the next table is watching us eat, questioning why we would choose certain foods because we’re fat. In all likelihood,

…the person at the next table isn’t thinking about us. But because we are criticizing ourselves, we believe others are doing the same.

To be sure, there are inappropriate people in this world — people who believe they have the right to pass judgment on others. But what we think about ourselves may count the most. Other people’s comments may hurt but when they fit with what we already believe about ourselves, they can hurt even more. It’s up to us to choose whether we’re going to take on what others say, or brush it off and get on with living our lives the way we want to.

Building a Better Body Image is the Beginning for Healthy Weight Loss

Building a better body image has a relatively simple focus: getting and staying focused on taking care of ourselves. Because when we’re taking care of ourselves – feeding ourselves well, moving our bodies regularly, staying positive – we feel better, have more energy, are better able to accomplish the things we want in life.

Indeed, the amount of time we waste criticizing ourselves could be spent in the infinitely more worthwhile endeavor of building a supportive lifestyle and life.


When we’re actively engaged in finding fault with ourselves, we drain away the energy we need to create a fulfilling life.


Changing a negative body image and learning to be comfortable and content in our bodies is possible when we understand how we’ve learned to judge ourselves based on criteria that is impossible to achieve.body_image_workbookAnd while it also may be virtually impossible to have a completely positive body image in a society where body bashing is a group sport, keep faking it until you make it. Even if we don’t ever reach our ultimate destination, at least we’re going in the right direction.

For more help in improving body image, consider a stay at Green Mountain at Fox Run. Our program is dedicated to helping women feel better about themselves now, instead of putting their lives on hold until they lose weight or get fitter. Also check out Thomas Cash’ book The Body Image Workbook from which we’ve taken the above questions that exemplify how a negative body image can pervade our lives.

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