Tip: Avoid Labels that Make You a Victim

Perceived helplessness will keep you out of shape. Here's why.

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Want to get in shape? Develop a mindset of unshakable determination and a belief that you can change yourself. Want to stay shackled to your current circumstances? Develop the belief that you have an illness and it's out of your control. The American Medical Association (AMA) may be helping the obese do the latter.

The Study

Researchers studied the behavior of obese people who read an article regarding the AMA's decision to call obesity a "disease." Those who read the article were more likely to choose high calorie foods and less likely to self-regulate than those who didn't. According to the study, the only upshot in believing they had a disease was that test subjects exhibited more "body-love" as a result.

What This Tells Us

Believing that your weight problem is a disease will make you more likely to embrace it. On the flipside, believing you have a problem that's manageable, reversible, preventable, and within your power to change, will make you more likely to self-regulate and take the onus to lose weight.

The self-esteem of these study participants may have been cushioned by a word that improved their body image, but is that form of "body-love" worth Type II diabetes, dependency on prescription meds, and a shortened lifespan? Obesity will not be reduced by making people feel comfortable about being obese, nor will instilling a false sense of helplessness and contrived victimhood.

What You Can Take Away

The AMA's verbiage keeps fat people fat. Perhaps a better message would be that while genetics or medical conditions may load the gun, it doesn't mean you have to pull the trigger and reload twice.

You are not helpless when it comes to your fitness level and quality of life. Accept that and you'll realize that new, better behaviors can mitigate the problem. The first step is to stop thinking like a victim.

Off The Record

Even if you're not obese, you may have labeled yourself with other "diseases" – things you've accepted as unavoidable and unchangeable. Maybe you've accepted your fate as being skinny-fat, or a non-athlete, a hard-gainer, a junk food addict, a weakling, a wallflower, or a person with no self-discipline. If you've embraced these or any other self-limiting labels, then realize that you're living up to low expectations.

Chances are, these things are under your control. You just need to drop the helpless sufferer status and do something about it.


  1. Hoyt, Crystal L., Jeni L. Burnette, and Lisa Auster-Gussman. "Obesity Is a Disease" Psychological Science, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 9 Dec. 2014.
  2. "Labeling obesity as a disease may have psychological costs - association for psychological science." Association for Psychological Science. 28 Jan. 2014.