How to feel better about your body without losing weight

Are you always on a diet? Always weighing food, or yourself? Keeping an eye on portion sizes? Mentally calculating how much exercise you’ll need to do to work off a cupcake?


I work predominantly with women in my counselling practice and most, if not all, have been on a diet, are currently on one, or tell me that they’ll ‘apply for that job’, ‘book that holiday’ or ‘go on more dates’ once they’ve lost weight. Some talk about how their mum was always on a diet and that they were aware of calories, ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods from an early age. Others that were bullied for their size at school.

Does this sound like you?  

Worries about size and weight can have a huge impact on mental health and quality of life. It can alter our relationship with food and lead to guilt and anxiety about how often and how much we eat. Some people feel judged by others as if having a fat body is the very worst that a person can be.

The diet industry tries to use fear of being big; and shame about bodily size to motivate us to buy into their products or programmes. Shaming us into believing that there is something fundamentally wrong with being in a larger body and that we are somehow ‘bad’. They show us pictures of larger women in grey baggy t-shirts looking unhappy alongside images of smiling smaller women wearing colourful fitted dresses.  

It's as if only the thin are worthy of joy and big bodies are a problem to be fixed, with the reward being happiness… But what if we could feel better about our bodies without the pressure to lose weight? We all, regardless of size, should have the opportunity to fully enjoy our bodies as we wish to. The Health At Every Size (HAES) movement aims to shift the focus away from the idea that the only way to be physically and mentally healthy is to be thin. For HAES achieving good health means:

  • decreasing stress and anxiety
  • enjoying movement as a way to reconnect with our bodies
  • enjoying food for the nourishment and comfort it can provide
  • enjoying close relationships with others
  • enjoying the beauty of all our different shaped bodies

This represents a shift away from the current societal norm of only the young and slender being physically acceptable. The pressure to conform not only comes from others, but can come from within us too. This is where a supportive therapeutic relationship with a counsellor can help. If this is something you’d like to explore it’s important to find a body positive therapist. If it’s not clear from their website or directory entry then it’s OK to ask.

A body positive therapist will support you to explore your relationship with your size in a non-judgemental way, and work with you to find ways you can enjoy your body more. For some it is enough to achieve acceptance of their body as it is, perceived flaws and all, and to get on with living a full and happy life. This can take time as a lot of the feelings we have about the size of our and others bodies may run through our family as well as our culture and society.  

You are much more than just a body – kindness, courage, intelligence and talented comes in all body shapes.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Derby, Leicestershire, DE74 2EN
Written by Charlene Robinson, MA DipTA PNCPS (Acc.)
Derby, Leicestershire, DE74 2EN

Charlene is based in the East Midlands and runs a small private practice offering both in-person and online appointments. She specialises in supporting and empowering women to live the lives they most want to live, particularly those who are struggling with difficult emotions or just don't feel good enough.

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