This week's topic is self-esteem and loving yourself. Joan has learned that self-worth based on body image (which tends to happen in the summer when we think about getting in our bathing suits) can be hazardous. Joan suggests we stop letting society and Madison Avenue dictate beauty which can make you feel “less than”. You can lose weight and be "beautiful" but still feel insecure and worthless. Joan suggests a new way to think about your body and your personal beauty.

Q. I’ve been trying to lose weight since after I had children 24 years ago. Sometimes, I feel like I look at food and gain weight. I’ve recently become resigned to being fat, but that makes me unhappy, too. Is there a middle ground?

Joan: Join the club… I’ve been using the baby weight excuse for 23 years! Seriously, this is such a common issue among people, women in particular. There are physical changes that take place within the body as we age.

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For the focus of this discussion, I am going to talk about something that I believe is at the root of the way we feel - the real culprit that destroys our self-esteem – and that is the way we see ourselves when we look in the mirror.

We live in a world where beauty is everything. We’re led to believe that if we look a certain way and are skinny enough, we will be enough and we will have value. Most of us know that these messages are wrong but knowing something and believing it don’t always go together.

Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the media, and society, have taught us on a deep level, that physical beauty is the result of being a certain height or weight, or having a particular color hair or eyes. We look to our external for self-worth and if we don’t fit into a cookie-cutter mold of a “beautiful woman”, we feel less than, inadequate, and unlovable. But, the truth is, there is no “perfect” woman and the images that are fed to us are completely unrealistic. Our true beauty comes from the inside and if we do not learn how to cultivate inner strength and contentment, then it doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside, we will never be happy.

We have been programed to believe that being skinny will get us love, admiration, men/women, money, success and popularity. And often, no matter how hard we try, we never get there.

Q. What would you say to people that constantly spend money on the latest diet, hoping, praying they can lose weight?

Joan: We’re on a hamster wheel – spending money, trying new diets, implementing new workouts, expending a tremendous amount of energy, effort and time on our bodies - trying to fix ourselves to be lovable. We focus on all the wrong reasons just hoping to be enough.

I have been 115 pounds and I have been 175 pounds, and at each weight, I saw the same person in the mirror. The thoughts I had about myself did not disappear with a weight loss. It wasn’t until I learned how to be comfortable “in my own skin” that I developed the confidence to shine, no matter what my weight.

Q. So, what can we do, how do we change our thinking?

Joan: We need to stop placing so much emphasis on how we look and work to develop the inner qualities that are true beauty. We need to love ourselves no matter what our weight. We need to stop putting things off “until I lose weight” and live life now!

Q. What are three quick tips to make ourselves feel “beautiful,” which could really help with security and self-worth.

Joan: Place your emphasis on achieving a healthy body, not a skinny body. Eat a well-balanced diet, supplements and drink plenty of water. Eat for nourishment, wellness and health. Healthy is the new skinny! Proper nutrition and exercise will help you feel good about yourself.

Second: Get a good night’s sleep. Experts recommend seven to eight hours for optimal health. In addition, proper sleep helps you produce the proper hormones for weight management.

Third: Reduce stress. Stress wreaks havoc on the body and causes weight gain. Practice meditation or yoga, exercise, write in a journal, or anything else that helps you relax and remain calm.