When we have a goal in mind, surrounding ourselves with inspirational images or words can feel like the best way to keep focused. With popular tools like Pinterest, we can expose ourselves to what we desire at the click of a button.
Say you want to lose weight. Going to the gym to stare at ripped bodies and tearing out magazine ads with skinny models you want to look like is good motivation, right? Not so fast.
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What happens when we expose ourselves repeatedly to things that aren't realistic for us? What happens to our self-esteem?
Researchers recently conducted an experiment published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing to test this out with females signed up for a weight-loss program. Half of the women got a food-tracking diary featuring a skinny model pasted on the cover and all of the pages. The others received a journal with simply a logo.
They found that dieters with the model on their notebooks not only had trouble losing weight, but they actually gained weight. They snuck in snacks and became demotivated about weight loss.
"Being constantly exposed before and after eating, every time I am writing in my diary, I am reminded of a very skinny model, the idea comes up that it is not attainable for me," Anne Klesse, one of the researchers, told NPR.
While motivation is certainly an important tool to acheive weight loss, or whatever our goals are, it's important to remember what's realistic and what will have us feeling positive about achieving what we want.
Surely, the dieters were not feeling good about themselves every time they opened their diaries and saw an itsy-bitsy model staring back at them.
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Until we find a magical away to stop desiring unrealistic things altogether — let's stop constantly torturing ourselves with things that make us feel bad.
How do you stay positive when working toward a goal?
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