Language Matters: Trying To Lose That Holiday Weight? Watch Your Language!

A sneaky reason why it’s so hard to lose weight isn’t genetics, willpower, high fructose corn syrup or the wide availability of unhealthy food in our culture.

It’s the language of dieting. (Huffington Post, 22 Dec 2011)

Think about it — the word ‘diet’ begins with ‘die,’ so it’s hard not to have an entirely unconscious aversion to it.

Then there’s the fact that we only talk about ‘losing’ weight — another negative word — instead of ‘gaining’ — a positive word — better health, more energy, more self-confidence, and all the other benefits that come from a healthier lifestyle.

It’s almost the new year, and many people will think about dropping those extra holiday pounds as they think about New Year’s Resolutions.

Making the resolution to ‘lose weight,’ however, makes it easy to think only of the losses involved, not just of weight but also of trips to fast food joints, pizza and beer with friends, and other enjoyable but unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Instead, these determined folks could resolve to:

  • gain a leaner, fitter body by exercising three times a week
  • learn to cook food that’s both healthy and delicious
  • spend time with friends outdoors and active instead of on the couch

Doesn’t that sound more appealing than ‘dieting’ or ‘losing weight’?

The way we talk about topics, activities, people, and anything else has a huge, but often unnoticed, effect on how we think about those things.  Using positive language can make even a daunting prospect like dieting (there’s that word again!) seem more feasible.

How else could you re-word the goal of ‘losing weight’ into something positive?

Want to study all the hidden words linked in this post?  Check out the Diet: blog LM studylist on VocabNetwork!

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