Shape up

Shape Up Your Body, Shape Up Your Life

Many of us are carrying a few extra pounds. Perhaps they’ve crept on gradually over the years, perhaps they’re the “Freshman 15”, or perhaps they’ve been present since early childhood.

It is easy to get complacent. Okay, we know we could do with losing that extra weight, but the thought of dieting and exercise just seems like too much hard work – it’s not going to make much difference, is it?

Since my late teens, I’ve lost nearly a third of my body weight (50 lbs). The knock-on effect on the rest of my life has been dramatic, and if you’re carrying an extra 10, 20 or 50 lbs, you too could gain all of this by losing them:

Instant Confidence Boost

For those who are naturally shy or awkward in social situations, being overweight makes things far worse. Do you covertly glance around a group of friends or colleagues to see if you’re the largest person in the room? Do you struggle to find outfits that flatter your figure – and resort to shapeless clothes which hide as much of you as possible?

Whether you just want to blend in with the crowd, and not stand out as bigger than all your friends, or whether you’d like to be the center of attention for once, feeling good about your body is a direct shortcut to build your confidence.

More Energy

Carrying around an extra 20lbs is like lugging a heavy rucksack everywhere with you. If you feel tired and lethargic, and if you often procrastinate over things you want to get done, being overweight may be the root cause.

I have every sympathy for overweight people who struggle to exercise – the more you weigh, the harder it is. But every pound you lose will make it that bit easier, and being more active has a huge host of benefits:

  • Counters stress and mild depression
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Regulates your appetite
  • Builds muscle (meaning that weight will stay off)

Making healthier food choices also makes a huge difference. Have you noticed how you feel sleepy and lazy after a big meal or a lot of junk food? Fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins and wholegrain carbs all give you sustained energy and make you feel vibrant and enthusiastic about your goals.

Better Career Opportunities

There’s a strong bias against overweight people in the media, which trickles down into every aspect of life. Unconscious as well as deliberate discrimination takes place all the time; if you’ve gone for a job interview and failed to get the position, it may be that you had similar skills and experience to the winning candidate – who was slim.

Of course, no-one should be discriminated against on the grounds of their body shape. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to counter the associations which many people have with fatness; when meeting someone for the first time, we all make judgements on appearance, and “overweight” often equates to “lazy”, “greedy” or “lacking self-control”.

However you feel about this (personally, I believe that such attitudes and prejudices need to change!), you can’t influence how another person judges you. And if you’re lacking confidence in yourself because of your weight, you’re unlikely to be pushing for that pay-rise or promotion.

Sense of Achievement

Successfully losing weight, especially if you’ve been carrying those pounds for a long, long time, is an amazing thing to do. You’ll have reached a visible, measurable goal that has huge knock-on benefits in all areas of your life … and you’ll feel great! If you struggle to complete projects, if you have plans and ambitions that fizzle out to nothing, losing weight just might be that first big goal that gives you a real sense of achievement and fires you up for more.

Look up your healthy weight-range today. If your BMI is over 25, set a target weight, and start on what could be the best journey of your life … so far. It’s just the beginning….

Do you have a story of how shaping up changed your life? Please share it in the comments below.

This was a guest post by Ali Hale. She runs a blog called The Office Diet which is aimed at busy office workers who are struggling to lose weight.