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Thankful Starting Today
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Thankful Starting Today

By Susannah Castle, PsyD


Feeling thankful should be something you do every day. Whether you’re just getting started on your weight loss journey or you have already reached your ideal weight, thankfulness will make you happier and healthier. One of the great problems associated with obesity, is the way in which it creates a kind of “double-life” for individuals.  There is the life we actually have today, living in a bigger body and the life we wish and wait for, while trying to attain our mythical ‘perfect weight body’. Years, decades, and a lifetime can pass, waiting for the arrival of an ideal body that we hope will be the ticket to finally getting started on the bucket list in our lives. 


As a friend who works in the traditions of body acceptance recently said at a training event she was giving a group of colleagues: “it is very difficult to take care of something you hate”, referring to the way many obese individuals relate to their own bodies. From that poignant place, I humbly suggest that we start to love this body we are in today, or at least treat it with some gratitude and respect. That way we can get on with the business of living, regardless of our current size. 


A recent study in positive psychology, (the study of what makes things go right), found that a few simple steps taken on a daily basis could improve your quality of life regardless of your current circumstance. Those steps included the following:


1. Make a daily gratitude list of three different things for a month.  Every day should include three new things. 


2. Send at least one email of gratitude to a friend, family member, or c o-worker daily for one month.


3. Engage in a small amount of exercise daily – this could be lifting your arms up and down in a wheelchair, or going for a jog. Anything that is movement counts.


4. Practice a brief but disciplined five minutes of mindfulness meditation.


These 4 simple steps were associated with significant gains in overall feelings of well-being and productivity in a workplace setting. I think that those who find themselves waiting for a time when they have achieved a mythical body in order to start living would do well to start these simple practices. And out of the small seeds of gratitude will grow hope and empowerment… and from there, difficult steps towards greater health are within our reach.