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Is it possible to love your body and still want to lose weight?

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Cutting a vegetables for a salad with an olive oil
(Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

Almost four in five (78%) Americans say it is possible to love your body and still want to lose weight.  

That’s according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans who are looking to lose weight, where about half (51%) also reported having felt or experienced body shame due to their weight.

Most commonly, that shame came from a friend (51%), partner or spouse (46%), family member (45%) or doctor (40%).  

After experiencing body shame, respondents shared feeling like they have no willpower (60%), like it’s their fault (55%) and that they're lazy (52%).

Thus, it’s not surprising that the majority (65%) are willing to try anything to lose weight, no matter how restrictive or unreasonable the approach might sound.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of WeightWatchers (WW), the survey explored Americans’ mindsets when looking to lose weight, including how culture, society and one’s environment might impact their frame of mind.

While 77% of respondents said that having a community of like-minded people is important to them, along with accountability (73%), some also reported being hesitant to share their weight loss journey with others.

In fact, more than half (56%) said their journey is a personal experience they want to keep private, and 45% avoid sharing so as not to be shamed for wanting to lose weight.

“Weight-based stigma is pervasive and pernicious in our society. This stigmatization and shaming is cruel and harmful. It leads people to engage in unhealthy behaviors and has lasting effects on how people view themselves — neither of which are helpful for a successful weight loss journey,” said Gary Foster, PhD, author of "The Shift: 7 Powerful Mindset Changes for Lasting Weight Loss" and Chief Scientific Officer at WeightWatchers. “It’s crucial to view the journey as something you’re doing for yourself and not against yourself.”

For the majority of respondents (69%), minimizing the risk of other health issues associated with weight gain was their top motivator for losing weight.

This was followed by improving self-esteem and confidence (65%) as well as looking and feeling their best (62%).

The survey also took a larger look at how Americans think about themselves and their weight loss journey.

While exercise and diet topped the list as two essential factors, 85% agreed that your mindset is important when looking to lose weight.

When it comes to people’s mindset, almost two-thirds (63%) believe they’re more likely to focus on what’s not going well than what is.

Even so, when facing a setback on a weight loss journey, 75% are more likely to speak negatively to themselves than they would to a friend.

And while almost two-thirds (65%) expect setbacks to happen on a regular basis, 76% agreed that once they hit an obstacle or setback, they feel discouraged and feel like giving up.

This may be because respondents have faced barriers, such as losing focus because of too much happening in their lives (55%), a regimen being too restrictive (53%) or not having a community or support system (41%).

“While eating and activity are important for weight loss, your mindset is what matters most and drives long-term success,” added Dr. Foster. “Treating yourself with kindness, particularly when navigating setbacks, is critical to making the weight loss journey positive, not punitive. Self-compassion beats self-criticism every single time.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans who are looking to lose weight was commissioned by Weightwatchers (WW) between August 26 and September 1, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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