yesterday, we had a guest post by david about using the law of attraction to lose weight. since david’s and my views are a bit different, i promised you a dialogue about it. so here we go. i will start with some of the ideas with which i agree:
i completely agree that our expectations are an important part of how we each create our own unique worlds. there is a lot of research that supports that, e.g. on self-fulfilling prophecies and other expectancy beliefs such as self-efficacy beliefs (the “i can do it” factor).
introducing more self-love into our lives and stopping harmful self-judgment are very important; personally i believe that they are a significant ingredient in not only improving our personal lives but also in improving the lives of those around us (hence my tagline: making lives better, making better lives).
appreciating and loving our bodies is a crucial element of this. currently, denise wilfley at washington university is working on finding out whether improved body image can have an effect on weight. it is well-known that a disturbed body image is connected to low self esteem.
lastly, i also agree that paying attention only to negative statements (“if i eat that, i’ll get fat”) is counterproductive. we shape our reality according to our attentional biases.
now let me point outwhere i don’t share david’s point of view.
we can’t deny that eating certain things on a consistent basis will make most people fat; that’s one of the main reasons for the obesity epidemic in north america. i doubt there was a big change to the negative in terms of body image in the last 60 years; but we know that the arrival of fast food and an insane amount of choice of overly fatty, sweet and salty food coincides with the rise of obesity.
also, research points to the fact that obesity does have a genetic component, and most people who’ve tried would say that “it’s hard to lose weight” is a statement of fact. i think it’s important to keep these things in mind (without dwelling on them) because they can help with weight loss. e.g. it’s useful to know that 2 cups of carrots have the caloric equivalent of one slice of bread.
david says, “when you love your body, then naturally your body will feel better and will become healthier. as this happens your body will naturally shift to fit the image that you are holding in your mind: a healthier, thinner body.” i am not sure how that mechanism is supposed to work. has it worked for you?
existing research does not show that a better relationship with one’s body results in weight loss (maybe ms. wilfley’s work will change that; we’ll have to see). also, the experience of fat acceptance people would refute the claim; people who are part of the fat acceptance movement often put much effort into having a positive, loving relationship with their body, without a resulting weight loss.
finally, david writes, “you will never lose weight while you judge yourself fat. that is rule number 1.” unfortunately, that is not true at all. the people who arguably have the worst problem with body image – people who struggle with anorexia or bulimia – do precisely that. so does just about every other person who diets.
summarizing all of this, i’d say that when aiming towards a healthy body weight, it’s useful to pay attention to how our minds shape our uniquely experienced version of reality, and to love our bodies. it is also important to keep in mind that a positive body image does not equal a weight that your doctor would be happy with; and that body weight is correlated with caloric intake, exercise, metabolic rate and genetics.
and of course, let’s not forget that much of this is very individual. i don’t doubt for a minute that improving one’s body image can be the solution to someone’s weight issues (which is different from saying that it is the solution for everyone).
it is interesting to note that a large-scale study on the effectiveness of various treatments for obesity recommends intensive counselling as the best approach. since the best counselling is counselling that is tailored to the individual’s need, i would hope that those for whom improved body image holds the most promise will receive exactly that type of intervention.
over to you, david and of course you, dear reader – what do you think? what’s your experience?
(this article was included in the 50 best blog posts on the law of attraction)