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Self-Worth is Not Equal to the Number on the Scale

January 13, 2020

Many people struggle with defining themselves as “good enough” in today’s world regardless of weight. However, those struggling with this, in addition to the scale, can be quite overwhelming. There can be a lot of judgment, shame, and negative self-talk that perpetuates this cycle, especially after losing weight. There’s an assumption that after bariatric surgery, everything is peachy.

While many gain confidence as they lose weight, it can be a slippery slope in defining oneself according to the scale. Additionally, after losing a large amount of weight, many can judge their bodies harshly due to hanging skin, or have a perception that they haven’t lost enough. It can also become troublesome for those who equate their self-worth with their weight based on media messages that “thin is in” or “I’ll be good enough when…,” amongst others.

This can be a very unhealthy evaluation of self and can lead to an extremely unhealthy relationship with food and one’s body if this ideology continues.

What is Self-Worth Anyway?

Self-worth is defined by Webster’s dictionary as: "the sense of one's own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect.”

Often people equate their worth with weight as a result of obesity bias and how individuals with obesity are viewed in the world. Judging oneself on these same principles buys into that phenomenon, rather than canceling it out. Obesity bias is a real issue in our society, and it is comprised of negative attitudes, beliefs, judgments, stereotypes, and potentially discriminatory acts aimed at individuals simply because of their weight or size.

FACT:  Regardless of what you weigh - You are worthy. You are loved. You are important. You have value.

Your value has nothing to do with your weight, yet for years you’ve likely created a subconscious connection between your self-worth and weight based on internalized judgment and obesity bias. Your weight has zero to do with your worth in this world. You are much more than a scale.

Yet many weight loss surgery patients equate the number on the scale to their self-worth which leads to self-esteem issues and how they feel about themselves. This is problematic because it leads to depression, anxiety, and can sometimes become so distorted that it leads to disordered eating. Surprisingly, it may also inadvertently lead to weight gain as well.

It is important that as you lose weight, you also work on changing your self-image, your mindset, and your life. If you don’t, you could rely on the scale to determine your worth, which can be very dangerous.

Surgery alone does not assure that anyone/everyone will get to their “perfect” or “ideal” weight. Even then, one’s weight can fluctuate over time. And, even if/when you do hit that goal weight, it’s not the end of the line. Even when you get there, you’ll likely find something else you want to work on or achieve, or something else to be sad or unhappy about.

Frequently I’ve seen people who get to goal only to repeat the “diet” cycle again because what they truly sought wasn’t a number on the scale but a deeper form of fulfillment. It wasn’t until they reached their goal or got closer that they realized there was more they desired than just “getting to goal.”

This leads back to the point about self-worth not equaling one’s weight. Also, an individual’s self-esteem and self-worth go beyond physical appearance, and there are so many other things to achieve while working through your weight loss process.

Here are some steps to help you develop your self-worth in a healthy way, away from the scale.

Get to know the REAL you

This is an amazing opportunity to get to know WHO you are, what you want, and what really drives you and brings you joy. Most people spend their lives ignoring their own needs and seek to please others. Getting in touch with your authentic self leads you to love who you are, fully and completely.

Practice loving the person you see in the mirror

Self-image is a big part of this process. Beyond getting to know who you are is liking who you see in the mirror. Start by finding things you like about yourself and expanding it regularly. For those who fear the mirror, this is an activity to do over a period of time. Loving who you see also helps you get more intimately in touch with who you are. This goes beyond body positivity and is aimed at celebrating

Seek fulfillment (off the scale)

This journey is about so much more than the weight, and seeking fulfillment off the scale and away from food is a huge part of the process. When the focus is taken off the food, it often shifts to the body. By taking the focus off of both those things, you get to explore what fulfills you in this life, which goes hand in hand with the self-discovery process.

Know your worth

Make a list of why you’re awesome, or ask your friends to tell you what they love about you. There are many reasons you’re lovable, a great friend, etc. Having confidence in WHO you are at your core, will also help you to see beyond the scale.

STOP comparing yourself to others

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” - Theodore Roosevelt

The more you compare yourself to others, or other's numbers, the scale, or other’s results, the more you’ll find yourself unhappy with yourself or go down the road of “what’s wrong with me?” That line of thinking is never uplifting, nor does it help you gain progress. In fact, that negative thinking typically makes you feel worse. Take the comparison out of the equation and celebrate yourself for how far you’ve come, and celebrate others for where they are. Refocus your attention on your own process, and instead of letting another’s success derail you, use it to motivate you farther.

Be grateful for how far you have come on your journey

Gratitude is an amazing way to build self-worth because it shows you how far you’ve come. Take stock in knowing that you’ve come this far!! And, you didn’t come this far to ONLY come this far. Start using gratitude to celebrate your successes and your weight loss, regardless of the number on the scale.

Shift your self-talk

How you talk to yourself is very powerful. One of the things I tell my clients is that there is no filter inside your head. What you say to yourself can be very hurtful or harmful. What we say to others is typically filtered in our minds before it exits our mouth. Inside our heads, the “mean” person comes out, and it’s a no-holds-barred situation. Begin to challenge negative or hateful self-talk and shift it to be more loving, supportive, and encouraging. This can make the biggest difference for you on your journey.



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Kristin Lloyd, PhD is a licensed psychotherapist, mindset mentor, certified clinical hypnotherapist, and energy psychology practitioner guiding individuals to embrace healthy habits and fuller lives after WLS. A WLS patient herself, Kristin understands the challenges of WLS patients. She is the founder of Bariatric Mindset and author of the two bestselling books: Bariatric Mindset Success and Release Your Regain; both available on Amazon.
Read more articles from Dr. Kristin!