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The word “acceptance” has become credo for many who are doing their best to evolve mentally and physically. And for good reason. Arguing with reality can prove to be a frustrating experience with little positive outcome. So accepting one’s current situation (no matter what it relates to) can be a necessary step toward reaching goals that might include inner peace, mental or physical wellness and various definitions of success.

There are times, however, that the concept of “acceptance” can become an excuse we fall back on as a reason to not work toward positive change. There’s definitely a yin and yang to this in the dieting community. Some claim that accepting (and loving) their excess weight is a positive thing and even hold up popular celebrities like Lizzo to prove their point. And Lizzo certainly is a beautiful example of loving one’s self no matter what the scale might register. But does this kind of body-acceptance mean someone who’s morbidly obese (usually defined by being at least 100 pounds overweight) shouldn’t try to get down to a healthier size?

The good news is that the edicts of “acceptance” and self-love can work hand-in-hand with setting goals that can result in a happier and healthier you. As someone who used to tip the scale at over 450 pounds and who had been overweight my entire life up to that point, I know all too well the dangers that come along with being very heavy. I couldn’t talk on the phone without becoming breathless. I could barely find pants to fit my 60″ waist. I wore out the floorboard of my the car I drove during my college years because of the amount of weight I was putting onto it when getting in and out of the vehicle. And I even broke a movie theater seat when on a date during my time in high school. So I had some very good reasons to lose weight (in addition to all the medical benefits I would reap if I took off the excess pounds).

Certainly “acceptance” did (and still does) play into my going from fat to fit (not to mention keeping the excess weight off). And it can for you or someone you love who’s fighting the battle of the bulge as well. For starters, you can absolutely look to someone like Lizzo (follow her on Twitter or Instagram) and be inspired by her bright outlook and declarations of self-acceptance. You can also start a daily practice of writing down your current attributes in a journal. Or volunteer somewhere to get the kind of fruitful feedback that lets you know you’re making an important difference in this world.

Our self-worth is a virtual muscle. The more we “exercise” it, the stronger it becomes. And we need to love ourselves to strengthen that muscle and initiate positive change.

Consider someone you don’t really care for. Is this a person you’re concerned about? A person you want to live a happier, healthier life? Probably not. Now think of someone you do care for—a family member, a close friend, a romantic interest or even a cherished pet. Chances are these are the ones you would like to see living their very best lives. Perhaps it’s time for you to see yourself in this same loving light.

If a negative voice inside your head is constantly reminding you why you don’t matter or why you’re “less than,” then you may have less success when trying to lose weight for healthier reasons.

I always encourage people to live “as if.” (Meaning as if you’re already at whatever goal you’re currently striving for.) You don’t have to turn to extreme diets that leave you feeling unfulfilled. While some food plans or guidelines can be helpful when starting out on a healthier eating regimen, selecting food and nutrition options that give you lots of choices and leeway allows you to live your life to the fullest (even while journeying toward change).

You’re a celebrity in your own right. Why shouldn’t you be happy in every moment? You can have a cookie while on a healthier eating plan to take off excess pounds. The trick is not having the whole bag of cookies.

So yes. Accept where you’re at (on the scale) today. At this moment. And love yourself for it. For whatever reasons you put on the weight in the past, it was somehow serving you. But now? You’ve come to accept that you’re a rockstar in your own right. And that can translate to eating healthier, getting thinner and walking life’s runway like you’re a supermodel. Because guess what? Just like the fabulous Lizzo, that’s exactly what you are.

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