Motivation Articles

A Little Imagination Can Boost Your Motivation

Building a Better Body Image

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Use your imagination.

Imagination: More Important than Will Power
One thing that it’s crucial to understand is that being overweight isn’t the cause of your unhappiness, and simply weighing less won't make you feel better about yourself and your life. It’s all the things you think about your body that make you unhappy, and it’s changing those thoughts that will make you feel better and help you lose weight.

Think about it. Imagine you live in a society where people find thinness repulsive and being fat is the marker of beauty, desirability, and good character. Everywhere you look, there are images of happy fat people wearing the best clothes, driving the best cars, getting the hot dates, and landing the best jobs. Would you still feel bad about yourself? Would you still feel like you have to lose weight in order to get what you want and need in life? Probably not. Even if you still felt bad about yourself, you wouldn't be focused on your weight, but rather on something else that your culture didn’t like—the size of your feet, or the slope of your nose, for example.

But we do live in a society that confronts us with very negative messages about being fat. Most of us start absorbing these messages as we are just learning to talk, and they soon become a big part of how we view and evaluate ourselves, explain the things that happen to us, and decide what needs to change if we want to feel and do better.

And sadly, it usually isn’t enough to simply recognize that "fat-loathing" is just a cultural prejudice you can choose to reject. You have to replace it with something equally as powerful, and that’s hard to come by after years of being conditioned to hate your own body. For many, the idea of accepting yourself and loving yourself sounds good, but it just doesn’t have the same emotional force that your negative self-image does. So you find yourself being pulled back to that negative image over and over again, and remaining stuck in the motivational problems it causes.

But you can use your imagination to break the power of your negative self-image and replace it with something equally powerful. Here are some suggestions:

Imagine that your negative body image isn’t really yours. Imagine someone else planted it in your head to keep you trapped in an endless quest for a better body. Imagine who this "someone else" is and why they’ve done this. You could imagine, for example, that a secret group of very rich and powerful people use the media, fashion and advertising industries to convince people that they need to be thin, hard-bodied, and youthful to be happy, so they’ll keep buying diet books, magazines and gimmicks. Whatever story you come up with, create one that makes you feel angry that someone else could take advantage of you this way.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • BAMAJAM
    Coach Dean-- Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your knowledge !
    I am your fan -- always appreciate your articles! - 2/18/2014 2:38:32 PM
  • I think I've found mine. It does start with "I don't like how Iook" but it progressed to "I don't like how I feel." That includes "I don't like my knees aching all the time" and "I'm too young to feel this old" and "I'd like to have the endurance to do the kind of walking I'd like to do with my hubby when we sight-see." - 1/20/2014 2:20:22 PM
  • It's all good and well to not have a negative self-image, but wanting to lose weight shouldn't be just about looks, it should be about getting healthier. I am not going to pretend that my extra 50lb are ok, because being overweight puts me at bigger risk for all kinds of nasty diseases and limits my mobility. Why yes, there is a group of rich people who promote youth, health and fitness - they are called DOCTORS. So, yes, love your body, but realize that it's your job to keep it healthy and active. It's not about being attractive, folks. Its about YOUR HEALTH. - 7/18/2013 1:26:28 AM
  • I am in tears. I never, in all my 60 years considered this viewpoint. Thank you! - 6/2/2013 8:58:50 AM
  • Thank you for this article. This is exactly what I needed. I'm printing it out and placing it around my apartment. I wish there was I could bookmark, so I could come back to it when I need to.

    Again, thank you. :-) - 1/27/2013 12:17:24 AM
  • FISERV
    thanks for this article. It made my day!!!! - 10/16/2012 3:45:16 PM
  • Great article! I really needed this today
    Thank you so much - 4/20/2012 8:28:45 AM
  • My body is the solution?! What a mind-blowing thought... - 3/23/2012 11:36:02 PM
  • Great advice...........
    .for me the negative thinking always keep me in the disgust mode. Especially, when I constantly compare myself to what society expects. At the end of the day, I know it's a mind thing and I need to be happy within myself first. - 3/11/2012 5:52:04 PM
  • I think it's funny that so many folks here say yeah I hate my body (which I do too!! - I'm right there with ya!!) but what's funny is I look at some of you all and go I would KILL to have a body like yours!! and there are probably some people who would KILL to have mine!! I have had people compliment my "success" cause I use to weight about 50lbs more than I do now, and I still see myself as a failure because I have 150 more to go. - 3/5/2012 6:38:08 PM
  • BILBYGIRL
    I really enjoyed this article and know that I don't really hate my body but have been freaked out about my loss of mobility and inability to buy clothes, not to mention other people's reactions to me and what I am trying to do in my day to day life. I have always enjoyed how strong my body is and I like the way it feels when I work physically. I like the fact that I rarely get sick though the bummer is that I'm developing arthritis - something I notice everytime I decrease the fats I injest. This article has really given me something to think about - a good direction to head.
    Oh and BTW, I agree with JSAMERO that your statement:
    "You could imagine, for example, that a secret group of very rich and powerful people use the media, fashion and advertising industries to convince people that they need to be thin, hard-bodied, and youthful to be happy, so they’ll keep buying diet books, magazines and gimmicks." is the actually the truth. - 3/5/2012 4:49:44 PM
  • Thank you for this article!! I suffer from exactly what this article says I should NOT be thinking and feeling. It makes perfect sense as to why I am where I am!! What an awesome beginning step for me to accomplish--lovin
    g me!!!! - 9/20/2011 6:38:53 AM
  • I had just walked by a mirror after exercising...sure
    , I had the healthy glow but I WAS WEARING SPANDEX. Then the thought came to me-would I still do this if I knew I was always going to look the same? The real epiphany was yes, I would because I feel so much better. Then up popped this article...coincid
    ence? - 7/23/2011 5:16:38 PM
  • JLFEATH829
    This article came just when I needed it. I find myself paralyzed by my disgust or disappointment with myself, rather than being motivated by it. There is just too much self-loathing sometimes, and I need to stop thinking so negatively and start rewarding myself for even small steps. I need to have reasonable goals and expectations, and be proud of any (even tiny) thing I accomplish. - 3/9/2011 8:31:20 AM
  • MARTY32M
    Building self-esteem by avoiding negative thoughts is part of the process. But once you have got rid of the wrong reasons for changing your lifestyle, what reasons do you have left? You now have to think of the right reasons by thinking positive thoughts: you will feel better, you will be healthier, you will be stronger, you will be more energetic. You can add tricks to evade your impulses to pig out or skip your workout, but they're just tactics to support the real goals. Thinking of distant goals is another pitfall. Don't wait until you're thin, until you're strong, until you're healthy. You already feel a little better, a little stronger, a little healthier, and you can keep moving along like that as long as you want to. You have to be dissatisfied with the way you are, but in a way that you believe you can do something about.... Right now, I want to be more fit and agile at 80 than I was at 77, and at 79 I'm already more fit and agile and still building on it. I still have a tummy lump to work off. - 3/5/2011 8:35:03 AM