Journey Beyond Weight Loss

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What Do You Think When You Look In the Mirror - And Why It Matters

Lasting weight loss is a process of learning how to love yourself. Without that, the weight loss won't last, and it's only temporary at best.

Some of this weeks episode highlights are:
1:57 How we think about ourselves, what we say to ourselves, how we treat ourselves, and our relationship with ourselves is the absolute key to how successful we will be in our weight loss journey.
3:51 Young girls are socialized from a very young age to have the perfect shaped body.
10:06 Start noticing what you are thinking about when you look in the mirror. Most of us will find we have a lot of negative, self critical thoughts. If left uncorrected, you'll find these thoughts following you throughout your day.

--- Full Raw Transcription of Podcast Below ---

Introduction (00:03):
You are listening to the, keep the weight off podcast with Dr. Angela episode number 23.

Introduction (00:08):
Welcome to The Keep The Weight Off podcast, where we bust all the dieting myths and discover not just how to lose weight, but more importantly, how to keep it off. We go way beyond the food and we use science and psychology to give you strategies that work. And now your host, Dr. Angela Zechmann.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:14):
Hey everyone. And welcome back to the podcast today, today. I wanted to talk to you about something that's really important and yet oftentimes really difficult for us as we're on this weight loss journey. And that is what we see and what we notice and what we think and how we feel when we look in the mirror. So yeah this can be really, really difficult for almost all of us. As a matter of fact, I can't think of anyone who's ever told me that they have been, that they've really enjoyed looking in the mirror. And I'm talking about looking in the mirror at yourself, naked at this point in time. Okay. So so I just wanted to sort of highlight this this week and I wanted to talk about it.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (01:15):
I wouldn't say I was inspired to talk about it because in the journey beyond weight loss membership, right now, we're in the middle of module five out of six modules, and this is the identity reset module that, that we're working on. And I actually spend four weeks out of the 12 week course on this module on really helping people learn how to shift their identity, because how we think about ourselves, the things that we say to ourselves, how we treat ourselves, the relationship that we have with ourselves turns out to be the absolute key to our success in this journey and what better way to find out how we treat ourselves and how we think about ourselves then by seeing what comes up for us when we look in the mirror. So it's a really, really awesome sort of exercise to do. I have a lot to say about this, and I have a lot of my own experience to share with you.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (02:25):
So the first thing I want to say is that I believe things are really different for men and for women. There's a cartoon that went around on Facebook a while back where there's a sort of normal guy and he's looking in the mirror and he sees like Hercules, when he's in the reflection, like he just sees this, you know, this really Viking Hercules, man, you know, just awesome. And then right next to, it is a picture of a woman looking in the mirror and she's a normal size woman and she just sees a big fat blob, you know? So it's like, I think things are different. Now. We do have a lot of guys who listen to this podcast. So guys if you have an experience to share with me, I would love for you to go to the comments for the podcast.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (03:20):
Just go to And you can leave me a comment and let me know what your experience is. I can really only speak for for my own experience as a woman. Okay. so here's what I want everybody to understand as young girls, we're socialized from a very early age, from as early as we can remember that the shape of our bodies matters and it matters a lot. So the goal when I was growing up, and this was in the seventies when I was sort of a teenager in the, you know, in the formative years you are supposed to have a perfect hourglass figure. That was 36, 24, 36. Now, for those of you listening from outside the United States, that means that the bust is 36 inches. The waist is 24 inches, and the hips are 36 inches.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (04:23):
Now, I'm not sure what that would be in metrics, but what I can tell you is that it's really small and this was considered perfection when I was a teenager in the seventies. So of course, you know, these are pretty much impossible standards for all, but a few genetically gifted women, right? And so I didn't quite meet those standards. So I set about to try to change my body shape. And I started dieting as a teenager when I've talked to my patients about and clients about when their first dieting experience was many report that the dieting started in their early teens in some report that it started as young as eight or nine or 10. And one woman said it started when she was a fetus, because her mother was taking diet pills when she was pregnant with her. But point is, it happens early and, you know, most people will say, I looked around and I felt inadequate in some way.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (05:23):
And I felt that a diet would fix that. And whether or not they were actually overweight at the time, they just felt that a diet would fix it. Okay. And so this starts the long string of ups and downs with weight and all of the craziness. So what I can say is that for me, I was never actually overweight. I had a wicked sugar addiction, but I managed it in really unhealthy ways with really rigid diets and crazy exercise programs. And I remember in my forties, I went through this phase where I was competing for a figure contest. So when you're competing for a figure contest, you have really, really strict, rigid plans and very rigid exercise programs. And you're getting pictures taken all the time and you have to pose in certain ways. And you know, you're wearing bikinis and really small, small swimsuits and people are judging you.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (06:28):
I mean, you put yourself on display to be judged. Right? When I look back on the photos from that time, I actually looked anorexic skinny. I'd stopped having periods for over a year. I was in a really, really unhealthy place. But what do you think I was thinking when I looked in the mirror all the time, all I could see were flaws, there was cellulite in certain spots, my belly wasn't flat enough. And when I think back on it, I realized just how completely in error our whole body image can be. So here I was really, really thin, too thin, and I still felt fat and imperfect and not right. So it just goes to show you that the problem stems from a deeper place than the shape or health of the body. Okay. So that was my, that was one of my experiences with with just looking in the mirror.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (07:36):
I had another experience that happened in my life. And about seven years ago, I was in a success training program with Jack Canfield. Now, if you haven't heard of Jack Canfield, he wrote Chicken Soup for the Soul. He and Mark Victor Hansen together wrote chicken soup for the soul. And they sold the franchise for millions and millions and millions. And Jack is now one of America's premier trainers in success and leadership. And he had a program called Train The Trainer that I joined. He's really an amazing, amazing man. My friends were sick of hearing about me, talk about what Jack said for that whole year. All I talked about was what Jacks says. At any rate. One of the things that Jack recommends is this process that he calls the mirror exercise, where you spend several minutes a day just looking at yourself in the mirror.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (08:33):
Now this isn't an exercise where you're looking at yourself naked, you're looking at your face and you're specifically looking directly into your eyes and you tell yourself that you love yourself. And he warned us that for most people, it's a really difficult emotional experience to look yourself in eyes and say, I love you. So I was surprised that I actually did have a lot of resistance to this exercise. I didn't want to look myself in the eyes. I didn't want to be saying those kinds of things. I didn't want to tell myself that I loved myself. That that felt like really weird and really freaky and really crazy. But I did it anyway. And I did it because I trusted Jack and I knew that he had my best interest at heart and it was difficult. And I actually cried the first time.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (09:31):
But as I did it over and over again, and I got more and more used to it, I found myself with more and more self acceptance all the time. So for our listeners, I would like to challenge you to just start paying attention to the thoughts that go through your head. When you look in the mirror, you don't have to do Jack Canfield's mirror exercise if you don't want to. But I just encourage you to start noticing what you're thinking about. When you look in the mirror, what are the first thoughts that come into your head? Okay. For almost everyone, who's never really thought that much about it. What you'll find is that you've got a lot of very self critical, negative judgemental thoughts. So for example, you might think, well, my thighs are too big, or my belly is too big. Or my arms flap in the breeze or my face is too round, or my skin is sagging lots and lots of self-critical thoughts.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (10:38):
And what I want you to know is that this is actually completely normal, right? Our evolutionary brains are designed to find flaws. That's how we survived was we scanned our environment, looking for things that were not right, so that we could fix them and survive. So your brain is wired to look for things that are not working properly. So don't beat yourself up about that. Okay? If that's the first thought that you think when you look in the mirror is a self-critical thought, do not be beating yourself up. It's normal and that's to be expected, but it's a really good idea to notice that and to notice what feelings come up for you when you think these thoughts, because what's going to happen is if these thoughts are left uncorrected, these thoughts are gonna follow you throughout your day. You'll be sitting and you'll be noticing how wide your thighs are, how big your belly is.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (11:41):
And these thoughts will just sort of be on a loop in your brain. And they're going to cause you to continue to feel bad. And by the end of the day, you're just going to be like, I'm done. You'll, you'll have what I call a bucket moment. For those of you who haven't listened before, take the B off, put an F in front of it and you'll understand what I mean by a bucket moment. You're just going to reach for something you're going to say to heck with all of this. And you're going to reach for something to soothe yourself from the pain of all of these self critical and judgmental thoughts. OK?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:19):
So here's something to think about. What if you could shift to this? What if you could shift this right now, even before you lose all your weight, remember what I told you happened to me? I'd lost a ton of weight. I still have the self-critical thoughts. Okay. So I want you to understand that now is the time before you have the body that you think you want now is the time to start correcting this tendency of our brain to go immediately to self criticism. So if you can shift this right away before you lose all your weight, do you think you're going to be more successful at lasting weight loss? I, you bet you will. You bet you will, because remember it doesn't matter what shape your body is in now, unless you correct this, the critical thoughts are just going to continue.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (13:21):
As a matter of fact, I would say during those figure contest years of mine, I was actually more critical of myself than I'd been before. So as you get into these thought loops and it's really easy to just continue them, unless you correct them and correct them now, what's your body actually looks like is not the issue. What you are thinking about your body is the issue and what kinds of feelings those thoughts bring up for you. Okay? So here's a challenge for you. If you're up for it, could you take a good long look at your body? And first of all, just notice any of these critical thoughts that come up. You might even write them down so that you notice what it is that your brain does instantly.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (14:27):
Then you can thank your evolutionary brain for doing its job to protect you and to keep you safe by finding things to criticize. But you can also work at correcting this. Okay? So next, see what you can do to find things that you like about your body. If you've had a baby, can you take in the miracle of your body that has given life to another human being? It is incredible. Can you love the legs that carry you to wherever you want to go? Can you appreciate the heart that beats constantly to provide life giving blood to all the cells of your body? Do you notice the sparkle in your eyes and the beauty of your smile? It's important to recognize all of these things and plenty more. And again, it's important to recognize that self-critical thoughts are normal, but they do need to be corrected.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (15:37):
You want to be loving yourself now, before you lose all your weight. As a matter of fact, lasting weight loss is a process of learning how to love yourself. And unless you do that, the weight loss won't last and it's only temporary at best. So I'm working on this. It's an ongoing challenge. And I challenge you to work on this, to become aware of the thoughts that are going on in your brain. When you look in the mirror, remember the crazy cultural conditioning that we've grown up with, particularly for women. And remember that our bodies are remarkable and beautiful.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (16:23):
Try your best to shift these naturally self-critical thoughts to thoughts of appreciation. If you can. It's hard at first, but it gets easier with practice. And if you want more help with self-love, I encourage you to join us in journey beyond weight loss, because we'll be opening the membership up again soon. All right. So that's all for this week. I will see you all next time. Have a great week. Everyone take care.

Closing (16:56):
Hey, if you really want to lose weight and keep it off for good, your next step is to sign up for Dr. Angela's free weight loss course, where you're going to learn everything you need to get started on your weight loss journey, the right way, just head over to to sign up. Also, it would be awesome if you could take a few moments and write a review on iTunes. Thanks. And we'll see you in Journey Beyond Weight Loss.

- Dr. Angela


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