Diet information is everywhere. In advertisements, on TV, in magazines; the bookstores are crammed with books on many different diet options - The South Beach Diet, The Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers, The Cabbage Soup Diet. The message is ‘you should think about your weight'. If you aren't already thinking about dieting, you will be before long.
Most of the clients that come to see me want to lose weight. They have typically tried out a few diet options, but still haven't achieved what they are looking for.The big question is what are they looking for?
It all starts off with that glance in the mirror. What we see staring back at us is often an image we don't like or at least we don't rave about. The instant reaction too often can be – ‘I need to go on a diet'.
You don't like the package, so you need to alter it in some way. But the truth is that often it is the ‘packaging' that is distorting the picture – distorting our image of ourselves and not you (the package).
Consider this: Everything about you is perfect as it is, and has a purpose. Your shape, your height, your size, your hair colour, your eye colour, the shape of your features, and the size of your knees - they all combine to create you. Having a negative personal image can lead to weight gain or weight loss. Most eating disorders occur as a result of a negative body image.
Your packaging – or your style and your way of dress – has a huge impact on your personal image – how you see yourself, how much you like the way you look and …how large or small you look.
Just imagine how you feel when you are presented with a gift that is packaged with the fanciest ribbon, shiniest paper and with care and attention. In fact, it almost doesn't matter what is inside the package! It is the same for you, your packaging has an impact on yourself – how you feel about yourself, your confidence levels, and how others treat you.
So before you go on a diet, please consider the following:
Are you wearing clothes that don't fit you?
Squeezing into an item of clothing is just plain unflattering and although you think you can stay in denial of your true size, every other person that passes you in the street will notice that you are squeezing in. You will only draw more attention which can make you feel more sensitive about how you look.
More importantly wearing clothes that are bigger than you or too small for you will make you look bigger.
Go through your wardrobe and clear out all items that don't fit you. Be ruthless! You don't have to throw them away. But putting them in another area – like the top shelf – so they are out of visibility will ensure you a) don't wear them and b) you don't reinforce your negative concerns each time you wear them!
Cut out the size tags. This will take your mind off what size you are wearing, and hopefully you will forget all together and start enjoying what you wear
And of course buy clothes that fit! You think that's just common sense? Well it is one of the biggest wardrobe mistakes that people can make!
Are you wearing clothes that suit your body shape?
Wearing the wrong shape clothes can add pounds. A square shaped t-shirt in structured cotton will cut off any curves you have, either roll up to expose your stomach or make your torso look like a square box. Oh no! However that is what we can mistakenly go for. The same goes for a pair of jeans – a key item in all our wardrobes. They are often cut to fit a squarer body shape.
Jeans for a curved hipline – drop the waistline but ensure you have a larger waistband, and/or no back pockets. Also, opt for jeans with stretch. This will follow your natural contours better. For men: go for jeans with a pleat around the waistband to accommodate a softer belly line.
Jeans for a narrow hipline – most jeans look a dream on you, but ensure you opt for structure. Stretch could make you look like you have puppy fat.
T-shirts for a curve – use softer fabrics with drape and soft stretch that have a curve in the cut. Avoid front pockets, too high a neckline, square short sleeves. Instead, feminine touches – flowers, soft textures and chiffon, depending on your style. For men: go for softer fabrics.
T-shirts for angles – use structured fabrics, stripes and lines, boyish cuts, and heavier stretch. You can do pockets and sheer looks.
Are you investing in yourself?
If you are having concerns about your weight then you may have put a stop on your wardrobe spending ‘until you lose weight'. This is just plain unfair on yourself. It can only lead to you feeling more miserable if you are living in three outfits and haven't got anything you feel really good in. You may feel it will force you to take your diet wishes seriously, but again is dieting what you need, or what anyone needs for that matter?
Go out now and buy yourself something that you feel really good in, that suits you, that is perhaps an extravagance and that looks slightly sexy or suave. Regardless of whether you have been starving your wardrobe. This doesn't require emptying your wallet. The action in itself, spending some quality time for you to value yourself, will improve your spirits.
For women: Go out and buy some new make-up. A fresh gloss for the lips – natural or bright – whatever is your preference, and a shimmer or rouge for the cheeks. Invest in good mascara and some colour or base for the eyes.
For men: invest in a new shampoo, a facial lotion and an upgrade your shaving system.
Consider this: You don't need to lose weight. But you do want to be healthy and have a positive self-image. If you achieve the latter, your own appearance and weight will find its natural way.
Being healthy is mostly achieved by finding balance. Balance between the stress in your life and the peace you have; a balance between your nutrients and your addictions; a balance between being active and being passive. You also want to be well.
With the amount of toxins we have in our foods and environment and the amount of pressure we have living in the Noughties, your health is very important. Dieting can be unhealthy. What is healthy is loving yourself for how you are, appreciating that as you age your body will change, and that a healthy self-image is far more important than whether you can fit into a size 2. In fact, that is quite dangerous.
Dieting can be a quick fix – you see some results so you feel like you have dealt with the problem. But if you are not happy with your own personal image, then weight loss or not, you will shortly be back in front of that mirror complaining about how you look again.
Sarah Whittaker runs her own Image Profiling business using her own unique typology of thirty-five Image Types. The Image Types are a reflection of your own 'blueprint' and help you to understand how to express your natural self and attract more of what you want.