So, I was reading Shape on Saturday (while on the StairMaster…I can only read Shape when I exercise, otherwise it just depresses me) and I found this very interesting tidbit:
Pessimists may have an advantage when it comes to weight loss, say researchers at the University of Bath in England. In a recent study, people who pictured what they’d look like if they failed to maintain an exercise program were more likely to stick with it than those who envisioned themselves successful. “Fear can motivated you to take actions,” says study co-author Brett Martin, a professor of consumer behavior. If your workout resolve wanes, imagine yourself carrying extra pounds. After that, you won’t be able to lace up your sneakers fast enough.
So, what do you guys think?
I’ll tell you what I think. It’s true. I know that people always say to visualize where you want to be. You know, the power of positive thinking. Well, I am now a believer in the power of FEAR.
After returning home from the gym, I donned a bathing suit and took some “before” pics (a one piece racing suit, on a chubby super white girl, after a long winter…the worst possible look EVER and no, none of you will EVER be seeing them), and let me tell you, those images haunts me everywhere I go, every bite I take. It seems to be all I see in my mind’s eye.
Guess who was at the gym tonight…no hesitations, no excuses, only fear; fear of looking like this for the rest of my life. I liken it to the first time I saw a smoker’s lung and thought, “I never want to smoke”.
Now, I don’t know that I recommend it for everyone but, for me, it seems to be working; so well, in fact, that when I start to imagine what I will look like when I get to my goal weight, I force that image out and replace it with my “before” picture.
I also hope that no one reads this and thinks my only motivation for wanting to lose weight is to look better. Of course it’s a motivation (and a big one), but it’s not the only one.
ETA: I am loving the comments. I do want to reiterate that I do not recommend this for everyone. I also want to say that this is not about me hating my body. In fact, I think the motivation to exercise actually makes me feel better about it. Like last night, I was swimming laps (yes, in a one piece that is not super attractive) and while I am aware of what I look like in a bathing suit, I also love that my body is capable of so much. I also like focusing on changing what I look like without an “ideal” in mind. This way I am really focused on improvement, rather than a size I want to be, a weight I want to weigh, etc. Does that make sense?
I have to jump in on this conversation. 10 years ago I returned home from my mission 42 pounds heavier than when I left. I went up 8 sizes in clothes. It was very scary for me, considering I’m 5 feet tall. I just wanted to tell you, it’s possible to lose weight. I did it. I lost the weight over the course of 2 years. And it was worth every bit of excercise and piece of yucky healthy food. It was hard. So hard. And I used to read shape. But I really believe that Shape has lost it’s focus. They are more about their advertisers and sohpping ads than actual weight loss. First of all I truly believe that the emotional side of why you gain weight–why we eat when we don’t need to—has to be solved. Next be realistic. I noticed that the more muscle I had the quicker I lost weight. So I took a deep breath and I bought a Muscle and Fitness Hers magazine. And WOAH! I was changed forever! I implement all of their weight lifting routines into my workout every day. And holy cow it changed my life and my body. And I don’t normally have a skinny family. “Soccer” thighs run amongst the females in my family…and I will never ever fit into cute cafe capris or skinny jeans. And buying jeans…don’t get me started. However I have pretty solid muscle now instead of fat. Do not get down. I’m just one of those girls that has been there done that. Keep it up chloe.
chloe, you crack me up. in a good way- i can totally see this point. i especially love your comment to anonymous- yep. people are NOT cars- my job would be so much simpler if they were, though- it’s a nice idea. hmmm…i could be a sleek ferrari if that were true. are you stinking excited for africa?! i want to hear more!!!
Fear motivates me more than anything! I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Wow. There are so many good thoughts expressed here. I agree with many of them–and struggle too with body-image thoughts, etc.I like the way you summed it up by saying you like what your body CAN do. That’s a great perspective!
I just wanted to say regardless of anything you do, you always look beautiful! Just my two cents!
Katie, I agree that Shape is an evil piece of propaganda. I hate that all of the exercise demos are super skinny girls and that there is no attempt to show how to do anything if you are fat, or even regular sized. In fact, so much so that it has made me want to do something about it. More info to come on that one, but I have some ideas.Nat, I think the example of the Runner’s World cover model is a perfect example of why I like the fear of the before pic, as opposed to setting after goals. I d0ubt I will ever be super skinny or incredibly muscular. In fact, I kind of like being feminine in the old school sense…a little soft, if you will, so I like the idea of being motivated to change, rather than motivated to become. Does that make sense? Yes, goals are good, but if we are moving in the right direction, that’s what I think is important.Julia, I totally agree with everything you said. I know I added this little tidbit on the end, but it’s not that I hate my body. I don’t like how it looks overall. That much is absolutely true, but there is much more to a body than how it looks. But on the looks level, I love my fabulous legs and my thin ankles. I have great nail beds. I like my feet. And as for the “more”, I love what my body can do. I love that, even though I weigh what I do, I can push my body to run for miles.Hannah, I think the picture is helpful for me not as a regret, but as a “yes, there is definitely room for improvement”. I can’t wait to here about next weekend! I wish I could be there with you.Cherity, you know I think you look great. I have also always been impressed by how motivated you are. I love coming to visit you guys because I know you will be supportive of whatever my goals are at that moment. And remember, you JUST had a baby.Betsy, that’s exactly how I look at it, which is kind of surprising. I mean, I am what I am. It’s not going to change overnight, but it helps to think I can do better.Erin, thank you for sharing that. I wish more people could be okay with not being okay from time to time. Not settled there, but with the idea that needing to improve is not a bad thing. I’m sad you guys aren’t moving back here. Seriously. But I think it’s great for Christian.Sars, good luck!Anonymous, I know that the formula is simple, and if people were like cars, it would be easy. But we aren’t like cars. We have emotions and metabolisms and that makes the weight loss equation just a little more difficult. I’m not looking for a magic bullet (and I don’t think WW provides one or makes any magical promises), but I do need motivation. Period.Crystal and Salty, thanks for your comments. That dream sounds hilarious. The sad thing is, I’m not too far away from my fat mission weight. But…the picture is motivation.
I had a dream that I gained all of my weight back from my mission. It was so real that when I woke up I was depressed and sick to my stomach. That dream kept me living in fear for 2 months- and I had some of my best work outs remembering that dream.
Fear is a great motivator. I use it all the time with my children.
I subscribe to Shape Mag and I am getting pretty sick of it. It seems to be filled with nothing but “This study says…” or “A study in England said that this MIGHT be true…” Annoying.The secret to weight loss = Burn more calories than you put in your mouth. No tricks. No studies. No magic potion.END RANT
Interesting thoughts. I pretty much do everything in life based on this model–I wouldn’t know how to motivate myself otherwise. I just started back on WW after giving birth to my little Chloe Elizabeth (see her at http://www.apartmentfiveb.blogspot.com). Hopefully I’ll fit into my old pants soon-I can’t really justify maternity pants for much longer. (I say as I eat another chocolate egg.)
I was crying in my therapist’s office two weeks ago, feeling like I am a “bad” mom, when he told me the difference between extreme pessimism and “some” pessimism. He (a psychologist who has had 20 years experience) told me a small amount of pessimism is good because it motivates you to change and do better things! So, there you have it! (P.S. Extreme pessimism is labeling yourself because of your actions, e.g. I am a bad mom or I am a fat slob. Not good for your self-esteem.)
This makes perfect sense to me. And you can always look at that before picture and not think, “I suck,” but instead think, “I can do better than this.” Good luck to you, girl.
That is truly very interesting! I think it’s got a lot of truth to it though. I know when I get out of the shower and look in the mirror (I can’t not-I mean it’s RIGHT there), I think how descusting I look and it makes me want to be heathier.
This is interesting. I am a very “look forward and not back” kind of person. Don’t focus on regrets, move on. I want to leave that chubby girl in the dust and not look back or live with the constant fear of her returning. But I do confess to having unrealistic body image thoughts- deep down I think I am great- ha! The swimming suit thing- I must do that. MUST! I see that as very motivating to see where I am and then to look back on for how far I will have come.
i think it’s true (as the other readers have commented) that we are BOMBARDED with unrealistic body images and unrealistic standards for ourselves.i personally think there’s a balance between being motivated to get in shape and look great, and loving the body you are in.it’s ALWAYS good to be out and running, on the stairmaster, whatever. you are taking care of your body!!
I thought I read some psychology today piece that said the exact opposite. LOL. No clue if it works. There was a think in Runner World, someone had asked from per cent body fat their front cover models had. It was something insanely low and scary… Maybe we all have unrealistic expectations.
I think this is probably totally true. I mostly go to the gym from fear.
Oh jeez, I think Shape is an evil piece of propaganda. I used to work with the editors pretty regularly, and they were all very nice women, so I couldn’t figure out why the magazine always made me feel like crap!
Says the girl who looks fabulous and has twins. I know, it’s not like they’re babies, but really. Ha ha ha.
Okay-so I tried that taking a picture of myself in a bathing suit about 10 years ago (front, back and side views)…NEVER AGAIN! It wasn’t a pretty sight (and that was 10 years ago, mind you). My new motto is “ignorance is bliss”-I’d rather just think I look fine and be done with it.