How Marketing Warps Your Brain
WARNING: After reading this article you may realize that marketing warped your brain. Don’t worry, it’s time to take a stand and become independent with your thoughts and choices.
Several years into my fitness career my perceptions and beliefs about fitness changed once I moved to Seattle. What changed is for another blog, but as the fitness market grew so did my frustration. Why? Because of the bogus marketing techniques.
Several years ago I watched a three-minute YouTube advertisement. The ad promoted a “non invasive” bariatric surgery where a scope goes down the throat operated within the body. The semi-attractive doctor walked into the screen and opened with the traditional line that every fitness company uses, “Have you tried to lose weight but it hasn’t quit worked for you? Well now you can get bariatric surgery without the complications….” Frustrated, I questioned, “Why aren’t these doctors promoting lifestyle change before surgery? Do people realize they can’t eat certain things after this surgery?”
About a year later, I noticed an online ad focused to women and weightloss. Interested, I clicked on the ad, which showed a two-minute video about leptin shots. Leptin as the Greeks called it, "lepos" meaning "thin," is the the "satiety hormone." The ad opened with the same message, “Are you tired of dieting and exercising? Are you ready for something that will work for you?” Within thirty seconds the ad said, “Don’t you want to lose weight and still eat the things that you love? Yes you don’t have to give up any of these foods.” The video then showed images of brownies, pizza and soda pop. The video “educated” the consumer that you can still eat fast food and lose weight if you shoot yourself with their hormone shots.
But, that makes no sense, right? Welcome to the world of marketing.
In college, I earned a Sport Management degree and about twenty-percent of my classes were focused on marketing. Marketing is the act or promotion of a product and service. Marketing has existed for generations from war propaganda to magazine ads. Contemporary approaches are smart and know how to trigger psychology and deeper wants.
Fitness, health and wellness marketing is a big business. It’s not big, it’s enormous. In the US, fitness and health is a thirty billion dollar industry. Also, the diet/weight loss industry is a twenty billion dollar industry and has over one hundred million dieters. Capitalism allows our land of the free to be creative and generate new businesses. And why not fitness? Our obesity rates are out of this world and we no longer have a clear judgment on what and how to eat.
Someone, somewhere is trying to convince YOU and YOUR BRAIN to purchase his or her product. People are making a lot of money and will do or say anything to pry your brain. I’m not saying all businesses are like this as there are many well-intentioned services and products on the fitness market.
What I am aiming to reveal are the bogus weightloss treatments that sweep your problems under the rug to “provide you a solution without changing your habits.” It's a bogus lie, and deep down you may know its a lie, but will believe in anything to avoid change.
Have you ever walked around a city and seen signs that say, “World’s Best Pizza or New York City’s Best Pizza” here. Marketing is as easy as hanging a sign on the window that says, “Ohio’s Best Donuts.” Because if its not the best, who will buy it? I laugh at this example because I think of the movie Elf where Will Ferrell treks from the North Pole to New York City. He busted into a dingy coffeeshop and said, “Congratulations! You Finally did it! World’s best coffee right here, WOW!”
Before moving to Germany, I worked for a Seattle fitness company where we managed and offered fitness services to corporate building gyms. We conducted some local research to see what competitors charged and how they certified their trainers. I looked at several dozen websites. Gyms, studios and training-focused centers within a three-mile radius all claimed to have the best personal trainers in Seattle.
While at this job, I watched the infomercial for a Brazilian Booty / Butt Lift workout. I laughed at the before and after pictures as they took model thin women who “randomly” grew asses the size of melons. Everything looked photo-shopped from the way their skin glowed to the perfect circular cup of their breasts. (If you know anything about weightloss, most women lose fat in their breasts not gain unless there is plastic surgery). Why try to be like a Brazilian woman when you are an American? Born with your own beautiful qualities.
Now, please what I say next take it lightly and use it to your fuel your fire for change. Many ill-intentioned diet and weightloss products and services are looking for the “weak-minded.” I am NOT saying you have a weak mind, but they want to target the people who are desperate and so confused about weight management that you’ll try anything. They want the people who are in the hamster wheel just going round and around with negative beliefs that, “I will always be fat or weight loss doesn’t work for me.” As mentioned before, their job is to convince you that change is not necessary and you can stay in your comfort zone.
Marketing is the bait, you are the fish and your pocketbook is the hook. Once they hook you they want to keep it that way. There is a reason why the online term, “bait click” is popular. Are you more willing to read an article that says, “5 Ab Exercises to Build Strength” or “5 Fat-Blasting Ab Exercises to Flaunt a Six-Pack.” Do you see what I mean? Obviously, the second stimulates curiosity and the desire to have killer abs.
As a trainer, I’ve heard and seen it all. I’ve had clients so desperate they consumed two to three weightloss pills at a time, which is beyond dangerous for the body. I had one client who wanted to do a Paleo meal plan, and she asked my opinion. I looked at the options and weighed the pros and cons based on what I knew about her lifestyle. I replied, “Why starve yourself with 1,200 calories per day and waste your money when all you need to do is cut back on some alcohol and add more vegetables to your diet?”
What she did not want to face was her alcohol consumption. She used the meal plan to disguise her inner-problem – a really high wine consumption and eating out too much.
If there’s ever a time to use anger in a positive way it is now. You can get mad, sad or frustrated about your past failed efforts. But what is done is done. Now it is time to choose you and not surrender to desperation. Question everything and see what works for you. Nothing in life is a “hack” or quick fix – that’s the crap marketing instills in your brain. How many of you have repaired your marriage issues in one meditation or therapy session? Life is a process and life is a journey.
You are strong, beautiful and amazing – you just need to think and choose for yourself. To sign off, I leave you with this:
“Ascension and devolution requires an equal investment of choice.”
-LaShaun Middlebrooks Collier
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Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com