Losing weight to earn self-worth

Is there more to your desire for weight loss? In this episode, Claire explores a common underlying motivation: an increased sense of self-worth.

Woman writes "I am enough" on note pad while standing in front of a mirror.

Show Notes
Program note: Hey, glad you’re enjoying the podcast! In this episode, you might hear Claire talking about Nutritional Freedom and Foundations. Since we launched the podcast in 2020, we've undergone a makeover to improve the membership experience. For more, listen to our "And we're back! All the updates!" episode.

Claire Siegel: You're listening to the Flourish podcast. I'm your host, Claire Siegel, founder of Flourish. We're on a mission to help women get healthy for good. Join me each week for a new episode that'll help you sustain healthy habits and nourish your body so you can Flourish in life.

When it comes to nutrition, does it feel like you know what to do, you're just not doing it? Or maybe you find yourself stuck in this annoying all or nothing cycle. If it sounds like I'm reading your diary, well, that was my diary for a while too. And it's also the story of the thousands of women I've personally coached.

That's why I created Flourish, the nutrition and body image support app made for women. If you recognize that diets don't work, but "just not dieting" isn't helping you feel your best either, download Flourish today. Your first live session with one of our credentialed nutrition and psychology experts is totally free, no credit card required.

From there, you'll continue your journey with personalized accountability and support so that once you graduate from Flourish, you'll never need another nutrition program again. So head to the show notes and download Flourish for iOS or Android today.

Coming soon!

We are in the process of adding transcripts to our entire back catalogue. New episode transcripts are typically available within 24 hours of the episode release.

Welcome back to the Flourish podcast. I hope your week is off to a great start or finish. I think this is getting uploaded at the end of the week, but whatever, whatever it is for you, I hope it's great. So, um, last week was a little heavier on the science side, so today I wanted to get into, I guess, get into our feels a little bit.

If you missed last week's episode, it was all about set point weight theory and essentially the questions or like topics that it leaves unanswered or factors that it doesn't factor in. So I definitely think that's worth listening to. If you've ever wondered about what your set point weight is, if you've struggled with losing or maintaining weight, um, it's a good episode.

Am I allowed to say that? I think I'm allowed to say that. I hope all these episodes are, are good. Um, that's the goal, right? Why put out bad episodes. Anyway, let's, let's focus. So today, like I mentioned today, we're gonna be doing more kind of thoughts and feelings stuff. And before you turn this episode off, don't, this is a really powerful, important topic if it is relevant to you.

Today, I'm gonna essentially invite you to challenge the reasons you think you want to lose weight. And I'm gonna tell you exactly what I mean by that. So I talk every day with women who buy their own testament, want to lose weight for reasons related to health appearance, or even just like practicality, right, I want to be able to move my body more easily, I wanna be able to, you know, touch my toes or bend over more easily, whatever. All of these reasons are totally fine and they're fair, and they're valid , especially when, you know, we consider the societal beliefs and messages that we all receive about weight. Um, they're totally understandable.

And I just wanna be clear, I don't fault anyone for their desire to lose weight for literally any reason. It is not my place to judge. It's not my decision to be made. And even if it were, I wouldn't. But what I find through these conversations and how they progress is. These reasons are kind of just like the tip of the iceberg, right?

So they're there and they're real, but they're not always the whole story. So if that's you and you're, you know, determined that your desire for weight loss is grounded in health, for example, I, I just have a simple request that for the duration of this episode, I encourage you to kind of like loosen your grip on that current understanding so that you can openly and honestly explore what other feelings or beliefs may be underneath that desire to make your body smaller.

And then you can tighten your grip back up as soon as the episode is over if you want. So today we're gonna be talking about pursuing weight loss to earn self worth, and I'm gonna give you lots of examples and context for what this can like, look, feel and act like so you can kind of figure out if this is relevant to you or not.

Okay. So as you may know, some of Brené Brown's most celebrated work is on the topic of shame, and shame and worthiness are basically like two sides of the same coin. Okay. So Brene defines shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belong.

Or that something we've experienced or done or failed to do makes us unworthy of love, belonging, and connection. So that's shame. And with that worth is defined as the conviction that you are good enough as you are flaws and all, and that you deserve to be loved. So with that in mind, a low sense of self-worth can maybe sound like:

I'm not enough or I don't belong, or I am a bad person, a low sense of self worth that's rooted in body size sounds like I am not enough or I don't belong, or I am a bad person because of my body size. So if these beliefs resonate with you, then I need you to listen to this episode very, very closely. You may need to even listen to it a time or two, and it's not gonna be that long, so you're welcome because here's the thing about self worth. Regardless of how you think, feel, or perceive your self worth, the fact is that you are 100% worthy. You became worthy of love, belonging, and connection as soon as you arrived on the planet. And that means that there's nothing you can do or not do to earn more worth. 

Your worth has been and it will always be 100%. And I wanna say that one more time. In case you haven't thought or heard this for yourself today, in case today is maybe a day that, that feels hard to believe. I have those days too. You are 100% worth. You have been worthy of love, belonging, and connection since you arrived here, and your worth has always been and will always be 100%.

And so maybe you're already kind of getting where I'm going, but what this means is that pursuing weight loss to earn more self worth will not work. It's the wrong tool for the job. And pursuing weight loss to change your perception of your self worth, it may feel like it works. 

Oh, if you're seeing the video of this podcast, you know Murphy has joined the chat. Hi Murphy. We'll see how long this works. She is literally in my lap, my 70 pound lap dog. She knows she's worthy. 

Anyway, so pursuing weight loss to change your perception of your self worth, that may feel like it works, at least temporarily, but even then, you have to ask yourself, is your body size really what you want to believe that your worth is rooted in?

I am willing to bet that if you are listening to this podcast, the answer is no. All right, And I think it's really important to point out the difference between knowing and believing. You probably are not hearing all this talk about worthiness for the first time. Like chances are this isn't the first time that you've heard that you're worthy.

Maybe you've got it on like an inspirational coffee mug or like the front of a journal or something. Maybe I've even said it on this podcast before. So you have this like left brain knowledge of your worth. And maybe because of that you were like, Eh, I, I don't even need this episode. But you know, I like the Flourish podcast, so I'll listen.

You may have entered this episode feeling like it wasn't for you. So, okay, you know you're worthy, but do you actually believe that you're worthy? .Are you living like someone who believes that she's worthy? Do your actions reflect that of someone who believes that they're worthy of love, belonging, and connection as you are today, I want you to be so super honest with yourself here, and the answer may not be pretty.

It may not be nice, it may not feel good, but it's a really important realization to, to have, and, and it's an important point to be clear on, at least with yourself. Now, because losing weight to earn more self worth is, is just not a fruitful effort. Let me actually get really clear here. If, if you could lose weight to earn more worthiness, we'd be all over it.

I just wanna be clear, like. If that's how it worked, we'd be a weight loss for worthiness factory, let me tell you. But it's just again, the wrong tool for the job. The math does not math square peg, round hole, like it's not going to be a fruitful effort. So because of that, I always keep an ear out for some specific patterns or maybe like some, like pins or symptoms. Um, if this is going on when I'm working with our Flourish members on the topic of weight. So I'm gonna share these with you. Um, these are not, this is not an exhaustive list, but just some things that I, I notice and I wanna share these with you because if they resonate with your experience, then you may be living the belief that losing weight will earn your worth.

Okay. So number one, there are four. Number one, your pursuit of things that are important to you is predicated on you achieving a weight loss milestone. So, um, the first, you know, example that comes to mind, the most common one here is, uh, dating. So you say, for example, we'll sign up for Bumble or Hinge after I lose x pounds.

And so the kind of like implicit belief here could be, , I am unworthy of love at my current body size. That may not be the belief, right? I'm not saying 100% if you, um, want to lose weight to have a different experience in dating, I'm not saying that means you're unworthy or that you believe you're unworthy, I should say, but it could.

And the most important thing here is that you're just honest with yourself about what's going on. Okay? So that's number one. 

Number two is that you have, or you're actually at your, your goal weight, but you still don't feel the way you want to feel, so you think the answer is more weight loss. And so you're kind of on this like weight loss worthiness hamster wheel.

Now again, this is not without a doubt, a self worth thing. This could also be, you know, just the requirement of of body image work. Weight loss does not fix body image, right, and you can need or benefit from some body image work and also have some of these kind of like deeper challenges around your belief in your own self worth.

All right, so that's number two. Number three, you feel that food, exercise, and weight are inextricably linked. So when you don't eat or exercise in the right way, you label yourself as bad and you feel ashamed for the choices you're making and how you're living your life, right? You really make that mean something about you.

Number four, this isn't new to you, right? This has been kind of like a well worn neural pathway probably since childhood. It's very possible that since childhood it has felt that your body size was how you bartered with loved ones, especially parents for love, acceptance, connection, belonging, and worthiness.

This was such a huge realization for me to realize that on my personal weight journey. At the time when I was, you know, y'all know my story, my decade of dieting, food, my brain, my body, just this constant battle for over 10 years. If you had asked me at that time why I was dieting, why I was trying to lose weight, I would've told you it was for health reasons.

I would've told you," um, if we were like really close, I would've told you. Maybe it's because I, you know, wanted to start dating more. And it was only through like a lot of really deep internal work that I realized that my ongoing desire to change my body was rooted in the relationship I had with my mom growing up and feeling like I was only going to be loved, worthy, and accepted by her if I was smaller.

And that was a wound that I carried for a very, very long. And so even when I hit my "goal weight," I still didn't feel good because what I was after was this feeling of worthiness, but no number on the scale could ever give me that nothing I saw in the mirror could ever give me that. And that is what I mean when I say it's the wrong tool for the job.

All right. So if this episode has revealed to you that there's something going on between your weight and your perception of your worthiness, I want to offer a shift in thinking. Rather than attempting to earn your worth by way of weight loss or any other achievement, by the way, like we could apply this to relationship status, net worth, like salary, whatever. Okay. So rather than attempting to earn your way to worth by weight loss, I want you to ask yourself, how can you solidify your belief in your worthiness through the way you think, feel, and behave today? How would you act if you already believed you were worth. What choices would you make?

What choices would you not make? How would you make your food decisions? How would you move your body? What would your relationship with the scale be like? How would you speak to yourself when you got dressed in the morning? And then once you have this picture of what a person who believes in her worth acts like, what, how she shows up for herself, then I want you to ask yourself, what do you need to start doing that today? What do you need to put those practices into play right now instead of your current hustle for worthiness as Brené Brown would say? And then go do that right now. Because trying to lose weight to earn worth, let me say it one more time, it will not work. And I hope if I can save you from attempting that for five more minutes, then this was a podcast worth listening to. 

Okay. I know we got a little deep, but again, this is so incredibly important and I know personally for me, like I said, it was one of the most poignant realizations that I have. Looking back on 10 years spent taking the stairs to the wrong building. Right? All right, y'all, that's what I have for you this week. Once again, I would love to hear your thoughts. Please send me an Instagram on, on dm, um, share this podcast with a friend. If there's someone that you believe could benefit from, from this, um, throw us a rating, a review on, on iTunes, on Spotify, they do that here now, would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for supporting the Flourish podcast and I will see you next time. Bye y'all.

Claire Siegel:

Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Flourish podcast. If you enjoyed it, please take a second to leave us a five-star review or better yet, share it with a friend. And if you're ready to start your own journey to get healthy for good with accountability from expert coaches and the support of an incredible community, head to the show notes to get started on your Flourish journey.

I'll see you in the next episode.

Headshot of Claire Siegel
Claire Siegel
Co-founder, CEO
Claire Siegel is the founder and CEO of Flourish. Claire has made it her life’s mission to help women create a sustainable approach to their physical and mental well-being.

Related episodes

Heal your relationship with food and your body.

Explore our free membership to know if Flourish is right for you.

No credit card required

One-on-one non-diet nutrition and body image coaching via video, voice, or chat.


Weight-inclusive approach to your physical and mental health.


Get started for free. No strings attached.