Why it's better to 'slim' than 'lose weight'
It's important to think slim to be slim. I don’t mean think slim, positive thoughts and I'm not referring to mantras either. It's about how your talking affects your thinking. That's why it's better to 'slim' than to 'lose weight'.
You might have noticed something about me. In my blogs and social media posts I talk about weight loss but if you work with me we talk about 'slimming' or 'weight management'. Why is that?
It's simple. When communicating with people on the internet you need to give them what they are searching for. In this case, articles about weight loss. It's the number one search term for weight reduction typed into Google every day. However, what people are searching for isn't really what they need.
The problem with weight loss
There are two main problems with the sentiment "I want to lose weight"
1) You have to think about two things a) weight and b) loss
If you keep telling yourself "'I'm losing weight" you are repeatedly unconsciously focusing on the word 'weight'. Think about the word 'weight' for a moment:
- What images does it conjure up in your mind?
- How do you feel when you say the word weight?
- Go on say out loud it a few times (with conviction) .......weight, weight, weight!
You feel heavier just thinking about the word. Notice how your body language has changed? I bet you slumped slightly? I don't know about you but my stomach feels heavier already.
Then consider the same with the word 'loss'.
- What does the word 'loss' mean to you?
- Again try and picture an image in your head for the idea of 'loss'. Make it vivid.
- How do you feel about it?
Loss doesn't feel good even if it's something you don't want. It might sound like a small thing in isolation, but add up the effects of repeating those words to yourself multiple times a day every day and then think about how it affects your overall mood over time.
2) The other problem is that "I want to lose weight" focuses on what you don’t want. As I outlined in this blog there is a danger to focusing on the what you don’t want. If you focus on losing weight you usually mean the excess weight that makes you feel bad. Once it's gone you'll stop losing weight because you no longer feel bad. But this may be well short of the body you really want. Once you've lost the excess weight that was causing the bad feelings, where is the incentive to carry striving for the figure you really desire?
Why slimming is better
Conversely, if you think about slimming you need to think about:
A) Being slim, which has a much more positive connotation.
B) Gaining something you do want
Both of these feel much nicer. Repeat the exercise from earlier but this time, think about the image that the word 'slim' brings to mind.
- How do you feel about that?
- Make that image really vivid-do it now.
- Notice how your body language has lifted slightly.
It feels nicer, doesn't it?
When you feel better you have more energy (remember energy is distributed by the unconscious mind) and as a result, you feel more motivated towards your goal.
They're just words, do they really matter?
Can the words we use affect our thoughts?
There was a conducted study with native German and Spanish speakers who spoke English proficiently. Unlike English, most European languages assign a gender to almost every single noun. In the study subjects were presented with various English words.
Participants were asked to assign various characteristics to the objects in question. The study found out the subjects tended to assign feminine qualities (such as beautiful, fragile, elegant, pretty) to nouns that were grammatically feminine and masculine qualities (such as big, sturdy, dangerous, strong) to grammatically masculine objects, even though the whole survey took place in English.
While this is a much-debated subject in linguistics and psychology there's no doubt that the words we use do influence our thoughts, which in turn, influence our action. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, the words we use in our self-talk do affect our thinking and motivation.
What do you want?
If something is really holding you back from losing weight a shift in language won't solve the problem on it's own, but combined with your other efforts changing your language to shift your focus for the better can have a positive accumulative effect over time.
So what do you really want?
To lose the weight or to be slim?
Try it on for size and let me know what you think in the comments section. I'd love to know what words and images you use for your goal.