Battling obesity using the mind
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
From Mind over matter
It seems counterintuitive that increasing numbers of people are claiming to put a greater effort into exercising and eating a nutritious diet, yet there are more obese people in the world than ever before. Some researchers think positivity is a missing variable in the weight loss equation, and a lack of it is what’s keeping people chubby.
To prove the point that the mind has a major impact on the body, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer conducted an experiment on a group of predominantly overweight hotel maids who, judging by their daily activity levels, should have been thin. Despite essentially exercising all day long through their work, Langer discovered through a survey that 67% of the maids felt they didn’t do any type of exercise. Langer predicted the maids’ perceptions were hampering their weight loss, so she took half the maids aside and, in addition to taking their physical measurements, explained that through their cleaning work they were exceeding the surgeon general’s definition of an active lifestyle. The other half of the maids were given no information.
A month later, Langer’s team returned to the hotel and reevaluated the maids. They found an overall decrease in systolic blood pressure, weight, and waist-to-hip ratio in the educated group. The other group had no significant physical changes. While some suspect the mere discussion of exercise somehow altered the women’s behavior, Langer said there was no indication any of the maids modified their routines, and she feels the results were due simply to a change in mindset