letterinbottleBeginning to lose weight, whether on your own or with support from a weight loss surgeon, is hard enough. When you add feelings of self-hatred and weight-related frustration, waking up each day be a painful nightmare.

While losing weight, it is essential that you maintain the self-love necessary to support yourself through this journey and look forward to the fantastic reward waiting at the finish line: a healthier and slimmer you! One way to do this is to craft a love letter to yourself as a reminder of the many wonderful aspects of your body and soul that have little to do with fat percentages and BMI.

Feeling shy? Consider the following guide to appreciating the true and genuine you, in and beneath the skin:

1. Remember what your body does for you: The human body is an incredible entity that allows us to grow, adapt, and complete feats of physical and mental strength that we never imagined possible. Your muscles enable you to pick up your child or sit up straight. Your heart pumps blood through your body to nourish your internal organs and warm your extremities. Firing neurons in the brain provide you with flashes of insight and the ability to finish a crossword puzzle. Appreciate the many aspects of your body that have nothing to do with fitting into a pant size.

2. Take care of your appearance: Yep, that’s right. The way we look is not solely based on weight. Anyone with a great haircut and well-tailored clothes can feel attractive and look fashionable. Focus on all the elements of a great look: hair, skin, and clothing.

If you are a women, look for makeup and clothing in colors that suit your skin tone. Keep your fingernails trimmed and lightly polished. Men, shave regularly. Personal hygiene can further improve your appearance and other people’s experience of you. With all the elements balanced, you can walk out the door each day loving how you look. Make sure to grab a snapshot on your best days and attach to your letter as a reminder of how fabulous you truly are, at any size.

3. Do what you love: Nothing is more satisfying than following your dreams, be they personal or professional. Don’t let something like your weight stop you from taking risks. Join that rowing team or start exercising with a goal in mind. Ask for a promotion at work. Enjoy every second of your life, and when you can’t, try to learn from your experiences. Doing what you love and experiencing life with an open heart makes you a more aware, joyful human being, and improves confidence and self-love in a lasting way. Save photos, ticket stubs, and small items that remind you of the fun you had and use them to decorate your special self-care letter.

4. Talk to a therapist: If you are having trouble giving yourself a break, schedule an appointment with a therapist to talk about your feelings. Simply sharing what you think and feel can ease the emotional burden, and may help you gain insights into why you dislike parts of yourself beneath the skin. Give yourself the gift of future insight by jotting down what you discover.

Loving yourself through the process of losing weight is difficult, especially when you have a lot of weight to lose. However, why start living when you reach your goal weight when you could do so much sooner, and enjoy the weight loss process? Treat yourself well at any weight and look forward to finding sustainable happiness that is not dependent on a number on the scale.