Gratitude: why it helps with weight loss and your relationship with your body

Pop sensation Lady Gaga admits she struggled to fit in at an all-girls private school in New York when she was growing up, and was frequently made fun of over her appearance.  She said: ‘I had a very big nose, very curly brown hair and I was overweight. I got made fun of. School bullies called me fat and laughed at my appearance.’

But while the comments undoubtedly upset Gaga, she admits it was her work and her musical talent that helped her cope. Gaga says she spends 15 minutes a day being grateful to her body, and all it does for her… “Sometimes”, she says, “I don’t have 15 minutes, but even five minutes is worthwhile”.

Buddhists have long held that the true path to happiness is gratitude and kindness. Gratitude has been empirically connected to happiness, and many positive psychologists believe that people who live a life full of gratitude see life from a more positive point of view and are more easily satisfied with the way things are than in the way they could be. One study even showed that grateful people were more likely to de-emphasise negative memories by seeing them through a positive light.

Keep a gratitude journal

Spending a few minutes each day writing down three things you are grateful for is a great way to boost your appreciation for the little things in life, and indeed the big things as well. Think creatively – the little things could be a text message from a friend, hearing a joke that made you laugh out loud, a wonderful meal, or even the experience of spending 15 minutes doing something nurturing just for you. Research has shown that people who record gratitude every day are 25% more likely to be happier, more optimistic, and healthier than people who don’t. (David Hamilton, 2009)

Gratitude is good for us

When we take care of ourselves, we begin to expand (but not width ways!).  We have more energy, confidence, clarity and wisdom; we make better choices for ourselves.  As kindness to others and ourselves becomes easier, compassion occurs without thought and gratitude flows.

Gratitude enables us to appreciate ourselves, our lives, and others.

Gratitude helps our bodies produce “feel good” hormones that help us feel more relaxed, and more content.  This helps us turn off our “fight/flight/freeze” response and lowers stress hormones in our body.  This helps our metabolism function properly; we feel less stressed, less worried, less anxious.  This provides clarity and space to make good decisions for ourselves.

Some interesting websites:

Useful reading:

  • Martin Seligman, (2002) Authentic Happiness, Random House; New York.
  • Dr Tim Sharp, (2007) Happiness Handbook, Finch Publishing.
  • Stephanie Dowrick, (2005) Choosing Happiness, Allen & Unwin.
  • Stephanie Dowrick, (2007) Creative Journal Writing, Allen & Unwin.
  • Dr. Tim Sharp, (2008) 100 Ways to Happiness: a guide for busy people, Penguin.
  • Ingrid Poulson (2008), Rise, Pan MacMillan