The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
Friday Opinion Post ~ Visualization and Weekly Links

Friday Opinion Post ~ Visualization and Weekly Links

Monday, Tuesday and some Thursdays I will be putting up new content.  Friday is my day to vent, to express my opinion and to go beyond what the research says and how sometimes it all comes together beautifully or in one f’d up manner.  These are my opinions and as such, are why originally started this blog, not only to inform, but to be able to speak my mind.  In other words, enjoy!  ~ JD

Tuesday’s Psych Post talked about Visualization – Here’s my opinion about Visualization.

I’ve always hated the concept of picturing what you want, which has always been my disdain with the Secret.  The secret of the “Secret” is that it activates your Reticular Activating System (RAS).  This part of your brain helps to filter out the things you find important enough to see.  This is why you’ll notice a family member in a crowd, but probably couldn’t identify an otherwise unassuming person in a crowd.

There are a number of studies that I didn’t talk about in that article, but most of the research is nicely summed up in Richard Wiseman’s book 59 Seconds.  This is my favorite part of his summation:

A two-year follow-up revealed that the students who had reported frequently fantasizing about success had submitted fewer job applications, received a lower number of job offers, and commanded significantly smaller salaries than their classmates.

That basically sums up ALL I need to know about the normal visualization that you hear in books like The Secret.  More like “the secret” scam.

Anyways, let me play devil’s advocate for a bit and say, I actually do think visualization works for some individuals.  I think the people it works best for are people who are at least in the Action stage (not the contemplation or preparation phase of the Trans-Theoretical Model of Change) who have publicly stated their goals to a number of people.  Therefore, “visualization works” for people who are already doing things that would boost their chances of success to begin with.  In other words, these people may attribute the coincidence of “visualizing” their goals with success, but in all actuality, they would’ve hit their goals either way since they were taking action and publicly declaring one’s goals increases one’s odds of achieving that goal.

One last point about Visualization – It will f’ you up if you’re in the contemplation and preparation phase of change.  Let me illustrate this point.

In a previous Psych Post my own “Small Variable Theory” of change was discussed.  The post discussed how there are small variables that lead us down a path towards a certain end.  For example if you sit in front of the TV once you get home, you are wasting a minimum of one hour of time watching TV.  If you stay out of that room, then you are at a much greater odds of being much more productive.  This is despite what your goals may be, your self-control with your diet, etc.  If you sit in that room, you lose chunks of time out of your life.  That “small variable” goes on to effect so many other aspects of your life.

This happens all the time, with so many people, in so many different situations – one small variable effects a slew of other aspects of their lives.  For some people, even with the best intentions, if they’re around a certain person, they will eat foods that they hadn’t planned on eating.  If they workout by themselves, they slack off, but if they workout with a partner, they workout harder.  If a person is trying to save money, but they can’t resist saying no to going to an expensive lunch, day after day, it’s that one small variable that inhibits them from achieving their goals.

These small variables stand as huge roadblocks to our goals.

The Two Problems with Visualization

Now what would happen if you imagine your “perfect self” – a slim, toned and healthy you.  Yet you continue to be inhibited by that one small variable?  In other words, you’ve used visualization to “see” what you want, but still act the same.

1 – You become discouraged.  In order to reduce the dissonance that is occurring between what you want and what you’re actually doing, you say something to the effect: “Eating right is too hard,” or my favorite, “Why would I exercise?  It’s torture.”  I’ve wrote 7 posts on cognitive dissonance and how it runs rampant throughout most of our lives, without us even acknowledging it exists.

2 – You become disillusioned.  You start seeing things that aren’t there.  You start imagining that you’re making progress, that you’re working hard, although you’re really not. Again, this happens to reduce dissonance between what you want to be doing and what you’re actually doing.

In other words, the good that can come from Visualization – feeling temporarily good – is not worth the odds of being discouraged or disillusioned from Visualization.

In the words of Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I got to say about that.”

With that said, Imagine a USA where there’s a tax on Fatty Foods.  It’s not that hard, considering Denmark just imposed one and they have less than one-third the obesity rate of the US.

Read Beating Butter.

All I have to say about this idea is that it’s asinine at best and just plain stupid and about profit over health at worst.

And last but not least, Brian St. Pierre did a great write-up on Magnesium a couple of weeks ago.

Read Magnificent Magnesium.

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