Los Angeles, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/31/2014 -- It’s a common trend now to see motivational messages slapped across extremely fit individuals floating around social messaging networks. Referred to as “fitspiration,” these messages are designed to encourage, but UC Santa Barbara psychology professor Brenda Major advises caution to those who may consistently look to these images for motivation.
At times these messages can shift from motivational to stigmatizing, characterizing overweight individuals as lazy, self-indulgent, or weak burdens on our health care system. When this happens, this supposed method of encouragement turns to one of bullying and can have detrimental effects.
Women are particularly vulnerable to weight-stigmatizing images and articles, and are more likely to suffer from emotional eating urges and become despondent over lack of progress and assumed “failure” over not achieving their goals.
With more and more information coming out about the effects of mental health on weight loss and over-all satisfaction in life, it’s important to understand how to motivate those who want to lose weight, and be cautious to not turn them away. A “tough love” approach can be applicable in some situations, but in instances where many feel “helpless to control their weight,” it can be detrimental and cause them to give up.
Major advised trainers, physicians, and others who seek to help those wishing to lose weight to not focus on the supposed ideal of fitness perfection. Instead, messages and encouragement techniques should center around building healthy, life-long habits that can be sustained under various conditions. Lives change, and persons who struggle with weight loss or maintenance need to know how to work within these changes to achieve their goals, and believe in themselves to fully achieve a circle of whole health.
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