I had a reader of the blog email me last week saying she needed advice about trying to lose weight. She has struggled with numerous diets in the past—not being able to stick with them and also feeling like she'll never be as skinny or attractive as her two married sisters. Since I get questions about this on a regular basis, I thought I'd share my response . . .
I'm honored that you wrote to me, and I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling.
I do believe that the first step to losing weight is body acceptance, which is a big part of what my blog is about. If you do not accept yourself the way you are—and like yourself the way you are—you will probably never lose weight and keep it off. So my first piece of advice is to look in the mirror and figure out what about you is most attractive. Most people have one amazing feature—be it, a perfect nose, full lips, gorgeous brows, adorable ears, a sculpted jawline, or clear skin. (For me, it's my eyes, and luckily, I've always known that.) And I think when people see us, they focus on that good quality—and never see the parts of us that are average or imperfect.
I have a friend who is extremely obese, and after knowing her for a year or so, she told me she thinks that when people see her, all they see is her fat. I was horrified and also knew immediately she was wrong. This is someone who is blessed with a sunny disposition and a gorgeous face. When I see her, the first thing I see is her infectious smile—she is the kind of person who lights up a room. After that, I see her adorable nose, her pretty eyes, and her flattering freckles. I never even think about the fact that she weighs more than 300 lbs. It's not even on my radar. But when I told her this, it shocked her. She thought it was the FIRST thing people saw. In truth, people see your assets first, not your flaws.
So you need to look in the mirror and figure out what it is about you that makes you beautiful. You may not be as thin as your sisters—and trust me I know all about that—but you do have something that sets you apart. I know it.
Once you find that thing about you that you know is attractive and start focusing on that by buying clothes or accessories that emphasize it, you'll notice people will start complimenting you about it too. You say that you're not attractive, but as soon as you decide you ARE attractive, other people will find you attractive too. Confidence is contagious, and once you have it, you will pretty easily find that people—men included—are drawn to you.
After you re-gain your confidence and focus on YOUR attractive features, you can start working on losing weight. I follow a seven-step approach to losing weight that is not a diet, but a lifestyle change. Because my approach allows you to eat junk food from time to time, it's not hard to change your life this way.
Incidentally, the reason you want to eat junk food every time you go on a diet is because the diet tells you not to eat junk food. Any time someone tells you not to do something, the natural response is to want to do it. That's one of the main reasons diets don't work. The other reason diets don't work—and 90% of dieters gain back the weight—is because our bodies get used to eating less, and when the diet is over and we go back to eating more, our bodies store those extra calories rather than burning them. These are the two reasons I am totally opposed to dieting. Instead of dieting, here's what I recommend on the blog:
1) Like yourself
4b) Understand why it's hard to avoid them, so you can avoid them even more
5) Cook at home
6) Eat all day long
Also, you may want to read my manifesto and my post about how I define the word diet. You should know that though my approach will work in the long run, it is not about quick results as much as lasting ones. Honestly, it may take you five years to lose all the weight you want to lose. But it will work.
Finally, remember that not everyone has the same body. You may even have a different body than your sisters who share your genes. I grew up with a rail-thin sister, and it took me years to realize my body could not possibly look like hers. But neither of our bodies are perfect. She hates that she has to wear a padded bra, and I hate that I need spanx on special occasions. Either way, no one is perfect. And no one body is perfect either.
I really hope that this helps. Please check in with me and let me know how this plan works for you. I would love to hear back from you again.