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How a Weight-Neutral Approach Helps

By Charlene Rayburn

How a weight-neutral approach helpsWhen I was first introduced to a weight-neutral approach to health by Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs, it seemed counterintuitive. Frankly, I doubted it would help. The majority of doctors and other health advisors warn about the risks of obesity. Thousands of weight loss programs recite the benefits of being slim and trim. How could an approach that advised me to take my focus off losing weight help support my health goals? Wouldn’t that just giving me permission to give up and give in?

I came to recognize that what wasn’t helping me become healthier were programs that idolized body perfection and left me feeling defeated and depressed when I failed to achieve it, no matter how many times I tried. I also discovered that it’s self-sabotaging to believe that my success and happiness lie in molding myself into the image that some program created in my mind. It’s really depressing to feel guilty, ashamed, and embarrassed every day of your precious life because you just can’t seem to “get your weight under control.”

So why would feeling inadequate and hopeless inspire behavioral change? No wonder weight loss programs have such a dismal long-term success rate. I finally realized that it was time to stop all that nonsense.

So, what does help?

  • Realizing that we are beautiful, capable, brilliant, and precious just as we are.
  • Knowing that body size is not the main determinant of our worth, but rather our worthiness is intrinsic, unconditional, and irrevocable.
  • Knowing that we deserve to look and feel our best every day, regardless of what the scale says.

And although it was initially counterintuitive, I now recognize that it is completely intuitive: Listening to our body’s instinctive wisdom guides us to our personal and unique experience of optimal health. Its wisdom confirms that we feel better when we eat in moderation. It verifies that we are at our best when we move a little each day. It joyously responds to self-acceptance, self-kindness, and self-care.

You can call it weight-neutral, but what I know helps is courageously and unconditionally loving ourselves each and every moment, and giving ourselves full permission to live vibrant, rich, meaningful lives – and supporting others to do the same.


About the author

Charlene Rayburn, CVCC, lives her passion for mindfulness and intentional leadership by serving as a personal and professional leadership coach, by managing a department of dedicated employees for a Fortune 500 sized health insurance organization, and by facilitating Am I Hungry?® workshops and coaching sessions. She has coached extensively with individuals and groups outside the corporate world, as well as with executives, leaders, and teams in non-profit, private, public, governmental, and educational organizations spanning the globe. Charlene received her coaching certificate through the Center for Coaching Mastery at Coachville, LLC, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Management from Davenport University. She is a member of the National Management Association. One of her most emotionally challenging and rewarding experiences was serving as a volunteer at the Center for Battered Women. Charlene currently lives in Michigan and enjoys spending time with her husband of over 20 years, reading, learning, cooking, practicing yoga, and watching her grandson grow, who lives with his dad, her stepson in Fort Worth, Texas.

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