Children have a plethora of examples for how a person is supposed to look from dolls and action figures to celebrities and media. Boys learn that they need to have a visible six-pack and girls learn they need to be thin with curves in all the right places. At school an overweight child may learn that being overweight leads to being ostracized by others and not fitting in.
This idea dominates the minds of children and adults alike who struggle with weight issues. The truth is that weight loss needs to focus on a healthy lifestyle more so than body image.
Losing weight and a negative mindset
A child or adult who is overweight may willingly admit to being unhealthy but never do anything about it. Jeremy E. Sherman, Ph.D., explores the mindsets an overweight person may have. One of those mindsets is the “I Won’t” mindset, wherein the inner monologue might end with, “The burden is on me and yet I refuse to accept the burden.” Sherman explains that people in this negative mindset may believe motivation comes from, “if I admit that the problem is me.” By admitting to weight problems and unhealthy eating habits, people can feel safe, beating others to the criticism.
Sean G. Connolly, Ph.D., writes about weight loss and the importance of strong self-esteem. The negative thoughts of not only the self but of other individuals can continue to lower a person’s self-esteem and promote unhealthy habits. Connolly advises readers dealing with negative comments about weight, “You may have to give yourself ‘permission’ to feel good about yourself.” Holding a negative view of one’s body weight and self will only continue to hinder weight loss.
As Connolly explains, through self-affirmations such as, “I have the right to feel good about myself,” one can boost self-esteem and understand that weight loss needs to be about changing the thoughts of oneself as much as changing the eating habits.
Re-shaping for the better
Viewing weight loss as the need to only change the physical aspect will not lead to a healthy life. In part one and two of this series, children were found to learn eating habits from their parents. The same can be said about parent’s thoughts on their own weight. Joanne Barker writes about ways parents can help a child lose weight. Barker recommends taking baby steps through weight loss and improving exercise. One idea Barker recommends for parents is to, “Start by taking a walk together each evening after dinner.” Do not put the child in a position of feeling alone in the weight loss. Help the child find a physical activity of interest for exercise from running and swimming to hiking or boxing.
Throughout this series, the importance of weight loss of exercise as a family and not as an individual has been stressed. Weight loss is about investing in one’s life and health than investing in losing pounds.
White River Academy is a new start for troubled boys ages 12 to 17, including treatment of mental disorders, behavioral health issues and substance abuse. WRA is tucked into the edge of the Great Basin in Delta, Utah. The educational program focuses on instilling character values, promoting positive growth and autonomous investment in the local community. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.