Avoiding the hamster wheel of fitness failure

As we enter into spring, how are your new years resolutions going? How long did you last?

A day, a week, two weeks? Or are you still going strong, or did you modify your goals to be more realistic?

It raises the questions: how come some people are successful at keeping to their health and fitness goals while others struggle, and does struggling mean you have failed?

Our society is notorious for being hard on itself, especially when it comes to appearance and unrealistic body images. How can we set ourselves up for success and avoid the hamster wheel of defeat?

Recently, an interesting research study came out which explored the similarities people have who stick to resolutions, specifically around weight loss.

What I gleaned from it was some specific and realistic goal setting is the key to success in this area. Let’s take a look at the summary of what happened.

One of the most trusted research sources is the American College of Sport Medicine and this study looked at successful weight loss program participants, meaning that individuals who met their weight loss goals and continued to keep weight off.

The ACSM researchers found participants often went through a values change. What was important to them before they began often changed as they attained rewards.

Researchers identified seven habits of people who successfully maintain their weight:

1. They had high levels of physical activity, up to about 200 minutes per week. This may sound like a lot but the average Canadian watches TV about 2,400 minutes per week.

2. They limited TV watching to about 10 hours per week and really what is worth watching anyway?

3. They focused on low-calorie, low-fat meals. Their average was about 1,400 Kcal per day (this is a very good concept but discuss with your doctor first).

4. They kept to their diet plans and deviated very rarely with hardly any cheat days.

5. They ate breakfast. I’m a big believer in this, as it aids in reducing or curbing hunger and overeating during the day.

6. They made a contract with themselves to not react to stress by overeating or running to their “comfort foods.”

7. They weighed themselves weekly.

Other interesting habits is that they rarely ate out and chose to prepare their own meals.

They starting gradually with walking and progressing to other activities when they no longer found it challenging or were bored with it.

Almost all the participants ended up doing weight lifting within two years time of starting out.

I hope this helps you to get focused again as summer approaches. I’m convinced that with a little help and self-determination you can do it.


—Evan McKay works in personal training, ergonomics and corporate injury prevention.


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