The Tomato Effect is the trend in which highly effective methods of improving “X” problem are rejected for illogical reasons.
Additionally, the Tomato Effect can also refer to the trend in which people know the benefits of “X” method or habit, and reject participating in the habit without any real reason.
[The Tomato Effect was named after North Americans, who until the 1800s, completely avoided eating tomatoes even though Europeans had been consuming them safely for years.]
Currently in America, experts say that this effect is occurring with health and fitness. Most Americans can at-least realize the benefits of participating in exercise and eating healthy, but choose to not do so for either illogical reasons or simply because they do not want to.
There aren’t many people walking around asking “why do people exercise”. Instead, most people ask “why do people not exercise?” Or even better, “why do I not want to exercise?”
I’d say this trend is justified too; there is plenty of research showing that exercise has benefits such as:
- Improved mood and quality of life
- Decreased risk for many diseases
- Increased life expectance
- Increased Self-confidence
- Increased energy
And the list goes on. So why are people not exercising? Why does the tomato effect even exist in a nation where the citizens can expect that they or someone they know will die of heart disease, cancer, or another debilitative disease somehow correlated with obesity?
This is a question that has baffled scientists who have dedicate their lives to it, so I’m not going to attempt to scientifically answer this. But, we can at-least discuss it and hope to extract a couple methods that can be used to motivate ourselves and others to participate in exercise (if the others wish to do so).
Sometimes the best way to discuss a question like this is to answer the antagonistic question, why do people exercise?
- Discontent with their body, the way they look
- Discontent with energy levels, vitality, ect…
- Discontent with overall health
- Susceptibility to disease
- out of habit, constantly staying athletic
- out of thorough enjoyment from exercise, improved mood
- rewards that result from exercise
- Subjective norm- your friends and family do it, so you feel it’s a social responsibility
- Want attention from others, more attention from opposite sex
That’s not a conclusive list, but I think it covers the primary reasons for people exercising. So do non-exercisers just live a different life? Are non-exercisers just content with their health and lives, oblivious to their risk for disease, and impervious to the rest of the above reasons?
I don’t think so. I think non-exercisers go through the same exact things exercisers do or did at one point in their lives. But, the difference that is completely obvious is that exercisers have exercised and non-exercisers do not exercise.
What I mean is that exercisers see the benefits of exercise, and might be experiencing them even more because many benefits of exercise tend to present themselves with time. You don’t instantly look better after one session, but after a week, you might feel better, and after two you might look better!
Additionally, this also means that non-exercisers must see some type of benefits to not exercising. And in my opinion, this is what it really comes down to. Not exercising provides more instant gratification than exercise does. And it’s all about instant gratification.
So what’s so good about not exercising? Well, for one, instead of exercising, you could just continue doing what you’re doing. Or you could just do something you like a lot more with that time. It’s difficult to pass up a comfortable couch, some air conditioning, and your favorite show, especially to go throw weights around. Don’t get me wrong though, it does get easier with time, especially once you start realizing your own personal benefits from exercise.
Going to the gym doesn’t necessarily provide instant gratification, at-least for beginners. It might feel good and you might enjoy the social interaction (if that’s your deal), but probably not as much as doing whatever the non-exerciser is doing.
The key here is to keep your eye on the long-term. In the long-term, the healthier you are, the longer you’ll be able to have those days where you enjoy doing non-exercise related things. In the longterm, you’ll probably feel better while doing those non-exercise related things. In the long-term, exercise just has the ability to improve every other aspect of your life.
Exercisers realize that working out isn’t about exercise itself. It’s about how much exercise improves everything non-exercise related.
So next time you’re thinking about just giving up on health, remember the long-term.