New research shows that "fat shamed" people (people who are mocked for their size) are more likely to have cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The study, put out by the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania and the Penn's Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, monitored 159 obese people's health along with their emotional well being.
"In this study, we identified a significant relationship between the internalization of weight bias and having a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, which is a marker of poor health," said Rebecca Pearl, team leader and an assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry from University of Pennsylvania. "When people feel shamed because of their weight, they are more likely to avoid exercise and consume more calories to cope with this stress."
Researchers claimed that fat shaming leads to increased weight gain, metabolic issues and heart attacks. They called on doctors to encourage their patients not to internalize the fat shaming.
"Providers can play a critical role in decreasing this internalization by treating patients with respect, discussing weight with sensitivity and without judgment, and giving support and encouragement to patients who struggle with weight management - behaviors everyone should display" said co-author of the study Tom Wadden, a professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and the director of Penn's Center for Weight and Eating Disorders.
Though this study focused on people who were obese, the same principles can apply you no matter your weight or insecurity. When you believe the negative words people say about you, or what you say about yourself, your health will suffer.
Here are 5 ways to internalize a positive self image:
1. Appreciate yourself
Spend a few minutes every evening and write down three things you appreciate about yourself. Some examples are: I was able to smile most of the day or I was able to encourage people who were having a hard day. This will fill your mind with positive thoughts about yourself. Your body does not define you, so appreciate the parts of you that do define who you are.
2. Shut down your inner critic
Don't let your mind be filled with negative thoughts. When you start thinking bad things about yourself, literally stop your thought process and think about the good things about yourself. You can carry around a little notebook with the lists of things you appreciate about yourself if you need a reminder. If you don't let your own thoughts get to you on a constant basis you will feel healthier and happier.
3. Set achievable goals
Set goals that you can reasonably achieve and get motivated. Find something you are internally motivated to do, but it's also OK to ask someone else to help you stay motivated. Make sure your goals will not completely disrupt your daily routine and take things one step at a time - while change is good, changing everything at once can be overwhelming.
Surround yourself with positive people and media. You want to be with people who see the good things about you. They will be able to give you positive encouragement and that encouragement is contagious. But beware - the opposite is also true. Spending time with generally negative people will seep into your own life - don't invite negativity and toxic behavior in.
5. Avoid perfection
You do not need to be perfect. Avoid the draw towards perfectionism. When you accept yourself, flaws and all, and continue to remain positive you will avoid the stress of perfection.
Everyone has something they want to improve about themselves, but you don't need to beat yourself up for it. Take the route of positivity and you will be healthier.
Stacie Simpson is a FamilyShare staff writer. She loves listening to, gathering and sharing stories and advice to help others improve their quality of life. She spends most of her free time with her husband, ballroom dancing, reading and writing.