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Lose the Freshman 15: You’re Not Shallow For Having Shallow Motivation

You will be hard pressed to find me disagreeing with any advice that promotes positive body image, self love and personal empowerment, but there’s one thing that’s been rubbing me the wrong way lately. In conversation about weight loss motivation, whether with your friends, on social media or in an article, a common trend is to draw the line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ motivation.

“Don’t do this for anyone but yourself!” is the common advice. “Think of your goals in terms of strength and power and what your body will be able to do for you if you treat it right!”

Generally, I agree with this: if you don’t love yourself before you lose weight, you’re not going to love yourself after. More than that, there are so many benefits to losing weight than just the number on the scale or how you look in the mirror.

For this reason, the logic goes that motivating yourself with hopes bagging a hot boyfriend or girlfriend or looking hot on the beach is a bad thing. Same goes for wanting to lose weight to finally score a Facebook prof pic where you look lean and sexy, or that cool Before & After shot, or wanting to run into your high school friends and have the say, “Dang, girl! Have you lost weight?” Don’t even start on getting (non-harmful) revenge on an ex who hurt you by working for a new body that they’ll never get to hold again. It’s shallow. It’s cheating yourself out of what really matters: you and your health.


But what’s wrong with ‘shallow’ motivation really? There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to impress other people. These are all reasons people have for losing weight—myself included—and I’ve been called shallow for it. I’ve been told that I’m doing it wrong. But who cares? Really, who cares what you or I or the girl down the hall does to get themselves off the couch and away from the junk food?

Listen up: you can still achieve the body you want for all the ‘right’ reasons—for yourself, for your self improvement, to be strong, to be healthy—while still enjoying the fun of shallow motivation. Sure, my life isn’t going to be immediately become a Rom-Com once I shed my Freshman 15, but so what? We imagine these things for a reason. They’re motivating and they’re silly. They get our butts moving and get us excited to reach the finish line.

Just remember, even if we imagine these things as ‘rewards’ for losing weight, there is no reason we can’t achieve them now. Weight loss isn’t a magic spell that will suddenly make us ‘deserving’ of hotties and bikinis and compliments—we have always deserved all that. But you knew that, right?

Hey, though. There’s nothing like a new dash of confidence to make all of the above feel even more accessible to us. 

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Anna Borges

Northwestern '14

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