So we all know the effect weight loss can have on the body—we’re surrounded by magazines splashing celeb diet makeovers on their covers, personal trainers touting the health benefits of losing unwanted pounds, reality TV shows airing contestants’ body transformations—but weight loss seems to weigh heavily on the mind as well. How exactly does the issue of weight (gain and loss alike) affect the mind? We asked Lisette Volz, MSW, LMSW, and director of behavioral health at Hilton Head Health, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to shed some insight:
“Weight gain and persistent struggles with weight, more often than not, lead to negative emotional consequences that rival the unhealthful physical outcomes associated with the problem,” Volz says. Conditions like depression, isolation, negative body image, shame, self-loathing, helplessness and hopelessness are also said to be heavy burdens and associated with obesity and unhealthy eating patterns.
But, “since the mind and body are powerfully linked, improvement in the health of our body creates a profound positive shift in our emotions,” Volz tells us. “Healthy weight loss, as opposed to that done with radical fad diets, increases feelings of empowerment, self-confidence and general happiness.”
Improvements in those healthy emotions translate into reconnecting with others, and, as a result, increasing feelings of support, love and belonging.
“The interesting and fun thing about the weight loss dynamic is that it builds a positive tower. We lose weight and gain confidence, as well as increased happiness; we become happier and more confident, and then become willing to continue the weight loss efforts…and so on,” Volz says.
The moral of the story – If you aren’t ready to lose weight because of the physical necessity, perhaps your emotional wellbeing is incentive enough.”