If you follow me on any of the social media platforms – and mainly instagram – you’ll have noticed that for about the last week or so I’ve posted a photograph of everything that I’ve eaten. Not just the meals but all the snacks as well! And hey! I guess you are thinking there’s only so many pictures of scrambled egg or salad I can take!
So why am I doing this? Do I actually feel I should show you every meal I eat? Is it artistic? Is it indulgent? What am I trying to prove for goodness sake!?
Well it’s none of those things really (although I do take a good picture I reckon!) The answer is I’m trying to lose weight so in sharing my food with everyone, but particularly my ‘team’ who I’ve asked to keep a check on me and be supportive and critical as required, I hope it will keep me focussed on trying to eat more healthily. If people are observing me then surely I’ll make sure I’m doing the ‘right thing’! Alright I could just not post a picture of something unhealthy I’m eating but what would that achieve – and I would think my team would notice if I stopped posting…. and even if they didn’t the thought they might and I might have to own up to a kebab will keep me focussed I would hope! The other thing it’s led me to focus on is making the best choice available when I’m out for a meal. Or, like I did last night, when I know I’m going out for a meal that’s not going to be the lowest in calories, banking the calories in advance with some exercise. So last night at Pizza Express my starter was a a mozzarella and tomato salad and my pizza was a thin base with chicken and chilli. No pepperoni in sight! This meal though was more than off set by a 13 mile run!
This idea of being observed working as a motivator is not new. It goes back years. Anyone who has undertaken research knows that when people are being observed they change their behaviour. This is known as the Hawthorn effect (or Observer effect). In an experiment into productivity in the Hawthorn factory in Illinois in the early 20th century (and confirmed by later research) it was noted that the mere act of being observed increased productivity. Elton Mayo (an Australian Psychologist – picture to the right) noted that being observed by someone interested and sympathetic to your situation had a positive emotional impact. I can confirm this! The comments that people leave, the smiley faces that are posted, and just knowing someone is even marginally interested is a huge motivator!
I’d imagine it’s the same effect when you run or work out with someone. You try harder just because there’s someone there. Weight Watchers and Slimming World I would think work in the same principle – your weight loss or gain will be observed so that motivates you!
Or…. you could keep your money, eat right, and post your pictures on Instagram for your team to comment!