Thoughts are powerful. They can reinforce or change your personal reality. “Thoughts…have a significant impact in our lives, moment to moment, every day,” says author and speaker Elizabeth R. Thornton on Psychology Today. “Sometimes, these thoughts can be very limiting, unproductive, even harsh… The problem with our negative thoughts is that the latest science has revealed that [they] are very powerful, even impacting us physically.”

You are what you think, so if you think that you’re healthy, then chances are you will be since your thoughts will push you towards that reality. If you say you’re overweight, then guess what? You might just be unconsciously sabotaging yourself to making that belief come true.

A study featured on Huffington Post reveals how words and self-perception can be crucial on the issue of obesity. According to experts from the Florida State University, teenagers who were healthy but who thought they were overweight “had a 40 percent greater risk of becoming obese before they turned 30.” Misconceived weight has been said to increase the risk of obesity in girls by 29 percent.

The sad thing is that teenagers aren’t the only ones susceptible to distorted perceptions. Even adults who are consistently bombarded by images of commercialized beauty can be pushed to think that the way they look isn’t enough. “The symptoms of hating one’s body are so common that they are considered practically normal in women,” explains psychotherapist and psychoanalyst F. Diane Barth in another Psychology Today article. “Despite studies suggesting that we have gone way overboard in our negative beliefs about weight, we cling to the idea that it is both healthier and superior in all ways to be thin.”

While there is no one general solution to the problem of distorted self-perception, there’s a way for you to at least plant the seed of change in yourself. Look in the mirror and accept each and every part of you. Love yourself a little more. Don’t exercise because you want to look sexy for others; do it because you want to stay healthy. Be realistic with your physicality. Once you accept your body instead of perceiving it to be something that it’s not, then you’ll find it easier to be and stay healthy.

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