Self-acceptance and weight loss: A call for questions

Just a month from today I'll be at the Fitbloggin conference to join the lovely Karen Anderson and Mara Glatzel to faciliate a discussion revolving round these juicy questions:

Are you afraid that self-acceptance means you'll never lose weight?

Does self-acceptance mean giving up?

As magnificent Mara beautifully put it today, it's all about…

Self-love and the desire to change.

Digging yourself utterly + completely and wishing for a little more out of your life.

I've puzzled over this topic many times these past couple of years. There's a desire to feel at peace with myself and my body, but at the same time there's things I want to change. Is this possible? Am I really a nutty dieter hiding in self-acceptance clothing? Am I some sorta self-acceptance sell-out if I want to lose some pounds? Am I throwing in the towel if I don't change a thing? Can't I have a foot in both camps? And what the heck does self-acceptance mean anyway?

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It's a big, sprawling topic and the more Karen, Mara and I get Skyping about it, the more intriguing cans of worms we open. I think it could make for a really juicy discussion!

We are mere facilitators of the chat – so we'd love to get your thoughts and questions to help us shape it. We've noticed it's a topic that many folks in the blogosphere have pondered, so whether or not you're attending, please feel free to share your thoughts. Again I quote Mara…

  • What questions do YOU have about self-acceptance?
  • What has always irked you about conversations about self-love?
  • What feels too good to be true, and what do you need clarified?
  • How might you need to be better supported in order to be your best, most loving self?
  • What do you really wish people said out loud on the topic of self-acceptance?

You can us a shout in the comments, on the DG Facebook page or tweet me @shauna and you can bust out the hashtag #fitbloggin if you fancy.

In the meantime I'll be obsessively tweaking my Carry On Only packing list to avoid the lost luggage shennanigans of 2011. Also will make sure not to pack salad lest the Sniffer Beagle busts me again!

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25 thoughts on “Self-acceptance and weight loss: A call for questions

  1. I have had some struggles with this as well. I love me no question about it always have. I think of my body and my size as just the house I live in and I freely admit that it has been neglected and needs some work. When it gets questionable for me is when the size of my house encroaches on sombody elses space or good time. Like in the airplane seating. On the one hand if I need more I should have to pay for the second seat. On the other hand who determines what size of seat is the correct size. No number of inches will be the right answer that satisfies everybody. Questions for King Solomon!

  2. I suppose the question I have about self-acceptance has to be “Who is your favorite blogger named ‘Jack’?”

    See ya at Fitbloggin; don’t forget your luggage this time, dumbarse.

  3. Sad I won’t be there this year!
    The session last year on intuitive eating terrified the hell out of me. 🙂 Funny how much has changed in a year.
    I will say that until I accepted myself, loved myself, liked myself I never found lasting change. Only after those things did I get over the hump so to speak.
    It’s an odd thing looking back on. It also feels very free on this side.
    For the love of Pete somebody video this session!

  4. Weight loss and self love. The first thing that comes to mind when I read those is “it’s different for men and women”. The question is why? As a guy, the concept is far less important, or it seems that way.

  5. self acceptance is hard. I would say that my question would be where the hell do you start?! ‘telling’ yourself you are worth it and deserving and all that jazz is great on a conscious level but what happens if you don’t believe it on a subconscious level. Fundamentally the statements are then just words. How do you bridge the gap between the conscious and the subconscious?

  6. Wish I was going to be there. This is a question near to my heart.

    Here are a few thoughts:

    How can I talk about self-love in a way that feels real to me and not like overcompensation? Is not trying harder to lose just a huge cop-out? Will I ever feel like I “get” Intuitive Eating? How do I know I’m doing it right? How much self-acceptance and Intuitive Eating will it take for me to lose 30 pounds (only half kidding).

    Enjoy!

  7. Wow, that is a huge topic! I’m not sure I have a question relevant to the topic, I am just trying to work out how to reach self-acceptance and get away from the ‘not good enough/thin enough/clever enough/ pretty enough etc’ to allow myself to be happy. And in particular how do I stop myself from sabotaging any potential for meeting someone and having a relationship. Argh! I’ve had a crazy day! Had a chat with a friend at work which resulted in a MASSIVE realisation about how tough I am on myself. Eek!

  8. Sometimes (if not all times), it seems as if self acceptance has something to do with societal acceptance. If we lived alone in the woods would how we looked really matter as much.
    It is Tv and magazines, and the office dynamic etc that play on our minds as to how we should look and how we should feel about how we look.
    On the flip side, if we were alone in the woods and we were obese, at some point we might realise that it goes beyond esthetics and pleasing folk and ourselves, but more a question then purely of health.
    If we think of food and diet purely from a health perspective it could be easier to make changes. If we focus on nutrients and excercise and not calorie counting and getting our weight down to fit into a certain pair of slacks or dress, then those social issues (in our minds or for real) will take care of themselves.
    Oliver

  9. I don’t think loving and accepting yourself means you think you are perfect with nothing left to improve; just like loving and accepting your partner or children doesn’t mean you think they have no faults.

    If your partner was unhealthily overweight, you would (hopefully) still love them just as much BUT you would also want them to take action to be healthier, happier, and live longer. It should be just the same when you think about yourself.

    Being fat doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you a fat person.

  10. An excellent point.
    For me, it is about accepting that I will never be tall, thin, and my legs will always be short with big thighs.
    But I love my hair, lips and waist
    It is about making the very best of what I have – making those big thighs muscly so they can get me up a hill, making them look longer with a pair of great shoes.
    I wear my hair long and wear lippy religiously.
    I wear things to accentuate my curves
    I try and feel confident. That is sexy. I would rather be sexy and attractive rather than textbook good looking.

  11. I always had a problem with the common concept of self-love. Telling myself in the mirror that I’m awesome just didn’t feel right. Because I may be awesome in some points, but as every human being I’m far from perfect.

    But of course I wanted self-acceptance, who wouldn’t? But what is self-acceptance? What is the psychological definition? What self had I to accept? Who defines what is my self? Questions I pondered and so I started to explore my “self” better. How my metabolism operates (answer: weird), what food I really like (no nuts), the way I solve problems, why I’m a quite reclusive person, what kind of work I enjoy and so on.

    The better I knew myself, the easier acceptance became. Because I could easily accept these aspects that made me “me”. To accept the person that likes tomatoes with salt and pepper in the morning is easier than to accept “myself”.

    Funny thing is that one day I realised that my actual weight didn’t suit “me”. Next day I began with counting my calory intake, then I began to loose weight. Now I’ve lost 12 kilos and I feel like this is the weight that fits “me”.

    I still don’t tell my image in the mirror that I’m awesome. I don’t have the answers for my questions, but perhaps they can help your discussion going. The better “self-acceptance” that I reached made it certainly easier to loose weight. I didn’t question my motivation, I just knew it “felt right”, I did it for me and noone else. But I still had to count calories and sometimes it was not easy (your blog helped tremendously!).

    I think there’s no direct connection between self-acceptance and weightloss. One person may loose weight with a higher self-acceptance, another realizes that she/he ist actually quite happy with his weight.

    Just my 2 cents.

  12. There’s a WORLD o’ difference between the concepts of self-acceptance, self-love, and self-compassion… It’s weird how it makes sense that if you accept yourself as you are, you stop trying to lose weight, but in actuality when you really accept yourself, you realise you’re really worth putting the effort in for. Self-compassion is probably the one we should be aiming for, because it allows us to sort of acknowledge feelings without dwelling on them, and from there, move on. I’d be interested to know the panel’s thoughts on whether or not ‘self-love’, and developing a good (often new) self-esteem can in fact ‘backfire’, as it leads to the individual seeing setbacks and problems as all their fault, or awful that it’s happening to THEM, etc, rather than look at problems/setbacks as ‘shit happens, now let’s move on…’.. I’m not explaining myself well, I’m looking for a better way of expressing the negatives that could come from focussing on yourself being ‘important’. Meh. This whole comment is worded badly, but in my head I know EXACTLY what I mean, lmao. x x

  13. Hi Shauna, I have just spent weeks reading fat-activism blogs, self-acceptance and intuitive eating stuff etc, trying to come to terms with my big weight gain post-kids after years of struggling (youngest starts school soon so it’s not baby weight any more 😉 ). Then my Kindle suggested I read your book this week, and it was the first thing for a very long time to give me a way of holding in my head both the striving-towards-self-acceptance and the still-trying-to-lose-weight at the same time.

    I can’t tell you why exactly – but I think perhaps it was your generosity in sharing how you went on both these journeys at the same time that showed me that they are not mutually exclusive! So, thank you. So much of this is about experience, rather than ideas, if you know what I mean.

    (oh and I joined the gym today for the first time ever, you have got me enthusiastic about exercise too 🙂 )

  14. I think you have to think of ‘self-love’ the same way you think of ‘love.’ If you love your significant other, you know their flaws but see past them somehow. But you DON’T let them self-harm or engage in behavior that’s going to be dangerous to them in the long run. If you take the ‘self’ out of it, you can more clearly understand that you should treat yourself the same way you treat others that you love!

  15. Oooh boy is this on my mind big time.

    I suppose my biggest issue with self-acceptance is that I think it can come and go depending on what external influences are there. We can ALWAYS have a degree of self-worth and value, but I think it’s like a tide that comes in waves depending on what’s going on.

    So I guess my biggest question with that would be how do you keep the wave on the sand? How do you keep the self-acceptance at optimum DESPITE the external influences. Because if you can do that you’ve got the weight thing cracked. Last year I lost a stone over a few months not really trying that hard, just because I was simultaneously working on my self-esteem/anxiety issues and making time for me. But now the weight has crept back on. Why? Because I haven’t been looking after myself. Why? Because I stopped working at my self-esteem and anxiety issues, and instead just bashed on doing lots and lots of stuff that meant I was really busy and didn’t have time for myself. And now I eat too much of the wrong stuff again!!

    Self-acceptance has to come first, because I think then you respect yourself enough to do something about the thing that is making you not operate at your best. But it also allows you to forgive yourself for getting that way, for all those binges and cake-fests, and it helps you to make the time for you, because you feel important enough in your own life. It gives you permission to be OKAY no matter what.

    So yeah, how do you KEEP that feeling once you’ve found it??

  16. THANK YOU again folks! My head is going to explode from thoughts and conundrums! It’s a real doozy this one, isn’t it!!??!

    I am pulling these all together in a trusty document to ponder… really appreciate you taking the time to comment 🙂

  17. Hmm, in principal I love the idea. Not having to get bogged down with all the calorie counting or the scales, just loving myself as I am. When I got to my goal though, and tired just to go with the flow and be happy with my new shape (including the baggy bits where the fat used to live) it didn’t take long to notice my new clothes were getting tighter.

    A year or so of being the new slimmer happier me and I find I’m not so slim or so happy with myself. I could see I was on a slippery slope back to the fat unhappy girl. So, for me, that means back to the calories and the scales for a while. I do still love myself and I accept me for what I am (my weight isn’t the most important thing about me) but I want to get back to where I was. I’m not sure it will make me any happier or more accepting but I know it will make me more healthy.

  18. What annoys me is how people talk about self love and self acceptance as though they are just switches you can turn on. It’s a lot of hard work and not something that is done by having warm bubble baths surrounded by candles.

    I think when you feel good about yourself, you’ll sit down and enjoy that slice of really delicious tiramisu but not scoff down a bag of sub-par chocolate without even thinking about. That’s the difference.

  19. Self acceptance means loving yourself unconditionally and believing yourself worthy of love. That is entirely compatible with having goals. If you love another person then you support them with their goals so it only stands to reason that you would do that for yourself too. In fact, if you don’t chase your goals, then you’re not truly accepting yourself because your hopes and dreams are part of you.

  20. Wow, that’s going to be one interesting session. I’ve struggled with this big time. Especially because my track history has shown me that when I’ve been at my biggest and hit rock bottom, I generally can’t turn it around without finding a happy place first, not the other way around – and that’s mega hard!

    I’ve honestly never found true self-acceptance, but my biggest revelation towards it was when I realised I was wrong to keep hating my body, but instead should feel for it and what I’ve put it through. It was a big shift (that if I’m honest I can often forget).

    Irk-wise I must admit I do have issues with people for whom fat-acceptance is so rigid that any desire to lose weight is frowned upon. Perhaps that’s because I couldn’t imagine myself in that mindset. I think it’s extremely healthy to be ambivalent; to be in a position of acceptance while also endeavouring to change.

  21. OMG I swear I spend more hours than healthy internally debating this. Do I really love myself if I hate the fact that I am overweight? Is my whole mission to slim down an act of self love or self disgust? It feels like day to day the answer changes. Perhaps it has little to do with WHAT emotion, but rather that apathy isn’t persistent? Not to go all meta, but if that’s the case then the first step to a better life is simply allowing yourself to recognize how you really feel? Because at least when you are cognizant of your emotions you can work to celebrate the good and work through the bad? I blame you for inspiring what will likely be a blog post tonight.