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Affects Of Self-Esteem On Weight Problems
Being overweight is not good. We all know that. But it’s not just the physical aspect of obesity that we need to be concerned about. Related to the problem is the low self esteem that many overweight people, especially children, often suffer from.
Ignoring a state of obesity is dangerous, the pressure that the modern world places on people to look “good” create feelings of insecurity among people who are over weight. This insecurity often starts affecting their self esteem and this can become a major psychological problem. When a person’s self esteem is affected, their feeling of self worth and confidence in their abilities is reduced. The more these feelings are degraded, the more difficult it becomes for the person to take any active steps to cure the obesity condition.
To lose weight, a person must want to do it. And the reasons for wanting to do so, lies in the desire to look and feel good and earn the respect of society in general and loved ones and business associates in particular. But when self esteem is lost or negatively affected by being overweight, a person’s self image is distorted and the feeling of “being a loser” sets in. This then becomes such a driving force in a person’s existence that the desire to look better and / or function better is lost because of a feeling that it won’t make any difference.
Low self esteem in over weight people often begins with the cause of the obesity. Stress is a major cause of weight gain in women, but also in men. Family, work and social pressures can reach a point where excessive eating becomes a way of distracting the mind from the current pressures. In other words, stress leads to a lack of confidence which turns into a feeling of being unable to cope, which finds escape in distractions such as excessive eating and drinking resulting in weight gain. So, the person who is putting on weight is already predisposed to self confidence and esteem issues.
A Vicious Cycle
This soon begins to spiral out of control. Because of depression, weight is gained. The weight gain leads to loss of self confidence which in turn adds to the loss of self esteem. As self esteem is lost, so is faith in one’s own abilities and the desire to shed weight and return to the previous level of good health.
This vicious cycle of weight gain, depression and loss of self esteem soon becomes self perpetuating and escaping from it becomes a task that is beyond the individual in question. This is soon accepted and the person gives up hope along with the self esteem. Recent studies have show that obese people are more likely to suffer from depression, in varying degrees, than people who are slim.
People are under undue pressure by an appearance obsessed society. Many psychologists agree that if the pressure to look good was reduced, so to would the negative impact of being over weight. This in turn would result in an improvement in the levels of self esteem and a desire to lose weight and “redeem” oneself in the eyes of society. In other words, the pressure to look good often makes it difficult for those with self esteem issues to control their weight. It has the opposite effect.
Those who are overweight will obviously suffer from physical ailments that range from the minor (snoring) to the major (risk of heart attacks and strokes). The mental consequences are depression and a feeling of hopelessness about one’s ability to turn things around and lose weight – in other words a loss of self esteem.
This means that any action to cure the person suffering from this condition has to be as much psychological, as it is physical. The starting point of any course of action has to be to raise the self esteem and make people feel empowered once again. This is not as simple as it sounds and an overweight person with low self esteem will need a lot of help to begin the journey back to self worth. The best people to provide this need not necessarily be psychologists or weight loss experts, but family and close friends who understand the person and what he or she is going through.
The first thing is to provide the overweight person with motivation to begin on the journey. A large amount of discussion and weighing of pros and cons and encouragement to at least make the first few steps as an experiment often do the trick and get the person to at least consider a weight loss plan.
The next stage is to get the person to actually begin to take action to lose weight. The best way to do this is to keep talking of doing things in small steps where results can be achieved and measured quickly. A quick loss of even a pound or two coupled with constant support and talk of the fruits of success will help to balance the low self esteem.
Once a small start has been made, the overweight person should be encouraged to set his or her own goals. Achieving these self set goals will immediately result in a rise in self esteem. But the person should not be left completely alone. Implicit and indirect support will be required to overcome the low self esteem hurdle.
Once the person is on the road to losing weight it is a mistake to think that the obesity and self esteem problems are gone. Facilitation in the form of empathy, rewards, understanding and continuous expressions of admiration for the empowerment being achieved will be needed.
Besides the support of family and friends, if support groups are available, joining them should be encouraged. But only if they are made up of people who have the same self esteem issues. Joining a group of people who are arrogant about their efforts or cover their insecurity with disdain for others, will be counter productive.
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