Supporting Weight Loss Goals without Body Shaming*

Tuesday, 10 October 2017, By Helen Kennedy

Body shaming can be obvious or a silent discrimination happening everywhere.



Clients become their own bully, calling themselves names. Often the result of bullying or a traumatic experience related to body hate.


Slimmer is better?

Being overweight not as bad as we think it is. Chronic yo-yo dieting and self-shaming is worse than maintaining stable weight as long as you are active. Many weight loss clients think they'll be happy when they reach a certain weight, but in order to make lasting changes, they have to accept themselves as they are.


Self-compassion is the key

Self-kindness allows client to listen to what their body wants.

"Guilt never leads to better choices. In fact, the opposite is true: when feeling guilty or shameful, we are more likely to overeat and binge."


7 tips to help weight loss clients without body shaming.


1. Search inside yourself to see if you have body judgement

Identify any internalised negative beliefs about body image.

Reflect on your own silent thoughts about your body or those of others.

Why do you maintain a strict fitness and nutrition routine?


2. Stop the weekly weigh-ins

For many the weekly weigh-in is not motivating, but demoralising. Better to use waist and hip measurement.


3. Measure their habits and focus on behaviours

Great measure for behavioural change is that of habits and choices. Instead of food diary focussing on calories, shift focus to habitual food choices. Help clients think about what outcome their habit is getting them then come up with alternate ways to get same outcome without food or drink.


4. Focus on the power of present moment choice

Remind clients they are in control of outcomes, and outcome is determined by present moment choices. Encourage clients to focus on power over current choices rather than dwell on past poor choices.


5. Set goals based on performance, not physical traits

Encourage performance based outcome goals rather than goals based on physical appearance. E.g. Eat veggies with every meal rather than lose 10kg. Set up success calendar to mark of physical activity or reward chart - get gold star for having 2+ serves of veggies with every main meal.


6. Stop labelling food as good or bad or "cheat" meals

The minute food becomes "bad" it becomes so much more desirable. Think more in terms of all foods are possible, but some energise the body and some drain the body. Help client become aware of how their body responds to different foods. The more they learn about their own choices and get feedback from their body, the more chance they have of lasting success.


7. Help them celebrate their emerging capabilities

The key to stopping body shaming is to shift focus away from appearance towards what the body enables us to do, feel and experience. Instead of talking about weight loss, remind them how much fitter, more flexible, stronger and energetic they are becoming. Help clients celebrate what their body can do, rather than judging it by how it looks.






*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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