Most everyone, religious or not, is familiar with the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things that I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer highlights a common weight-management perception problem (there are several): Believing you can't control your weight and, therefore, believing it is healthy to learn to accept it. Many, who have tried and failed to manage their weight, talk as if life's misfortunes imposed weight gain upon them - they are victims of circumstances beyond their control. Powerless against its grip, they work at accepting their fate - learning to "love themselves."

Whole industries are banking on the obese staying obese. Companies, like overweight dating sites, plus-sized fashion stores, and self-help books touting misplaced acceptance, profit when the obese "accept" their circumstances rather than alter them.

DO NOT GET ME WRONG - I can already hear the misinterpretations of what I just wrote. If you are overweight, I don't believe you should wear a potato sack and sit at home alone. For the "short time" (compared to the length of your life) you must wear larger sizes and patiently work to improve your health, I completely support looking your best and feeling good about who you are as a person. That is different from resignation to being obese - which has a tone of giving up.

I think self-love is a laudable pursuit but I believe the way our society has applied this grand notion is dangerous. "I love me just like I am" often means "I've given up and am trying to convince myself I'm lovable anyway." Loving yourself does NOT mean settling! You can love yourself but still require more of your health, intelligence and kindness.

See the difference?

Do you perceive your weight to truly be within your control? I can tell you - it IS squarely within your control. You should be looking for "courage" rather than "serenity."

NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals as well as groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit


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