Can You Be Body Positive and *Still* Want to Lose Weight?

By Keri Glassman, RD and founder of Nutritious Life

The body positivity movement is in full force: The #bodypositive hashtag has been used over 11 million times on Instagram, and the shift inspired both designers and advertisers to cater to more diverse body types in their clothing and campaigns.

With 30 million people suffering from an eating disorder in the U.S. alone, this is undeniably a good thing. We need to embrace our bodies, not shame them and wish they resembled the images we see in high-fashion ads.

RELATED: 5 Common Myths About Eating Disorders

But many people still want to drop pounds with the support of their dietitian or health professional, then report feeling guilty for not embracing their bodies wholeheartedly. The good news is, these two things—body positivity and weight loss—do not need to be mutually exclusive and can go hand in hand and can even help you hit your goals.

That’s because research suggests that higher self-esteem may lead to healthier choices. A Pediatric Obesity study shows that kids who are bullied are more likely to gain weight. You might think teasing would be a motivator of sorts, eventually leading to weight loss…But the truth is, weight loss is so much more complicated than that. The authors note that body dissatisfaction may lead to unhealthy behaviors, like binge eating, and say that stress hormones might play a role too.

I’d say this also holds true for adults who are mean to themselves. Think about it: If you like and value someone, you’re more likely to treat them well, listen to them, and honor their needs, right? Well, the same goes for your body. The best weight loss plans emphasize making choices because you love your body, not because you hate it. It means saying no! to fad diets and starving yourself, and yes! to mindful eating and healthy foods that give you energy.

RELATED: The Step-By-Step Guide to Mindful Eating

It just so happens that these practices also promote long-term weight loss, and for lots of people, losing weight can indeed improve markers of health, reducing their risk of heart disease and certain cancers, ultimately lengthening their lifespan. And for the record, you can absolutely love your body, including the way it looks, and still want to improve your cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and so on.

If you don’t quite love the way your body looks, it’s okay to make some changes the healthy way. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen any body-positivity activists telling people to eat endless amounts of sugar and stop working out. Body positivity is about finding workouts you truly love, eating well, and being honest about your needs in the moment. It’s not about throwing your goals out the window, and it’s not about punishing yourself with diet foods and painful workouts, either. It’s about finding balance and being nice—and those are things we can all practice, weight loss goals or not.

About Nutritious Life Editors

The Nutritious Life Editors are a team of healthy lifestyle enthusiasts who not only subscribe to — and live! — the 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life, but also have access to some of the savviest thought leaders in the health and wellness space — including our founder and resident dietitian, Keri Glassman. From the hottest trends in wellness to the latest medical science, we stay on top of it all in order to deliver the info YOU need to live your most nutritious life.

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