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Dear Mari: Losing self-esteem, not weight

LOSING WEIGHT is not easy, but its usually simple.

Dear Marilyn,

I really want to lose weight. I am about 30 pounds overweight, but I’d be happy to lose 20. The problem is, I have really mixed emotions about losing the weight. I don’t want my self-esteem to be based on the way that I look. I think that I should be proud of myself for being a bright, caring person. It should not matter what I look like.

   This mixed emotion strikes me every time that I try to lose weight. If I give up after a couple of days, and I eat foods that I am not supposed to eat, or too much of the foods that I am allowed to eat, I feel guilty. Then, my self-esteem drops, since I wasn’t able to stick to my goal. Then I feel mad at myself for worrying so much about the way that I look.

I seem to go around and around in circles with this mixed up logic. I feel worthless when I don’t succeed. Then I think that the fact that I ate something that I shouldn’t have shouldn’t matter to me so much. What should matter is my character! And, I think that is pretty good!

How do I not get sucked into using the way that I look as my only motivation for change? This seems quite shallow to me. I would love to hear what you think, as your opinion is highly regarded, not just by me, but also by many people.

Sincerely, Floating Hope

Dear Floating Hope,

   Thanks so much for your kind words. I hope I can give you some advice that will help you. You only have to look around to know that many people are struggling with the exact same issues that you articulated so well.

   First of all, you are correct in thinking that your character and how you think and feel on the “inside” should be important. And it certainly isn’t a character flaw that you are struggling with losing weight. You are not alone.

   The next thing that you have to think about is that there should be another reason to lose weight. It is not only that you will look better. You will also feel better. You will have more energy, and you will be healthier. There is really only one tried and true way to lose weight. It is to eat less, and to exercise more. It works.

   It is not easy. It takes time. It takes several months to really see and feel a difference. It is very to give up the goodies when you don’t see and feel immediate results. That is the problem with the cycle that you are in. You have to understand that you won’t see the difference as quickly as you would like to.

   When you “cheat” and eat something that you should not have, don’t let yourself get into the spiral of being angry and disappointed with yourself, and giving up. Instead, just exercise some more, and try to restrict your intake. Keep in mind the goal will not be achieved in a day or a week, and it should help you to keep your eye on the ultimate goal.

   Keep thinking how proud you will be, and how great you will feel when those pounds are gone. It will help you to stay focused on your goal. Do not be angry with yourself when you slip. Just don’t give up.

Dear Marilyn,

My boyfriend and I broke up about eight months ago. It was a mutual breakup, on what I thought was good terms. The problem is that now he will not talk to me. I tried to call him on his birthday, to wish him well. We spoke very briefly, and then he said that he had to go, and he hung up on me. He hasn’t called me back.  We were together for four years. I thought that we could still be friends. Should I keep trying to reach him, or should I just give up? I really don’t want to give up.

Signed, Wondering

Dear Wondering,

   I know that you don’t want to give up, but that is what you should do. Your ex-boyfriend is not handling the situation well. There could be a couple of reasons for this.

   One reason might be that he honestly doesn’t know what to do or say. He may be afraid that if he talks to you too much, that you will get the “wrong idea,” and think that he is interested in you again.

   Another reason is that he may be in a new relationship. The new girl might have asked him not to spend much time associating with you. Even if she didn’t say anything specifically, he may feel that it is not fair to her for him to be speaking with you. Either way, it is time for you to move on. It is difficult, I know, but it is the best thing that you can do.

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