Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thinking Yourself Thin

There's a school of thought which is trying to teach people that they can lose weight by simply visualizing themselves as being thinner. The idea is that you imagine yourself as a thin person and you'll get the body you want no matter what you eat. You should do things like imagine yourself in a slinky dress with a body to match, or with great legs or a flat stomach and it'll happen. You're also supposed to stop hating yourself and your relationship with food as a part of this process.

Since I've been fat since I was a kid, I can't even begin to really imagine myself thin. At my thinnest as an adult, I wasn't thin. Even if I could imagine myself as a thin person, I'm not sure that I believe this works as advertised. I believe it may work in a round-about way, but not in a direct fashion.

The way in which I think this type of thing may help people is that feeling happier with yourself likely reduces stress which both reduces insulin production and makes you less likely to eat compulsively to deal with self-loathing and stress. A positive self-image goes a long way toward helping people leave behind their self-destructive behaviors and start to embrace more productive ones.

Part of me thinks that this type of idea has a positive impact because anything which helps people, even a small number of them, is constructive. That being said, I can't help but think that this is someone selling people an easy answer and encouraging what one could call "magical thinking". You can make yourself feel better and give yourself the inner strength to adopt a healthier lifestyle through thinking positively. You can't magically make body fat vanish by thinking it away.

I'm actually a pretty strong believer in building the reality you want through directing your energies toward your goal. That being said, I don't think it's a process that you can push by thought alone. I think the thoughts carry through to actions, attitudes, and personality changes. And I also think that it's important to couple that change in thinking with efforts to repair the damage that has been crippling you and driving your destructive behavior. You can't do it by thought alone.