HAWTHORNE: The missing piece of the weight loss puzzle? – Keremeos Review


Posted: January 9, 2020 at 12:50 am

In my last article I talked about the missing piece of the weight loss puzzle the skills of behaviour change. Now, maybe missing is the wrong word, lets just say in my experience as a coach and gym owner its often undervalued and overlooked.

With changes to our health, our fitness, or our waistline, there are really two questions: Can I do it? And Do I want to? It comes down to ability and motivation, so a person could hire a coach or do some research and improve their skills and abilities with regards to exercise and nutrition, but without understanding and appreciating that change management is also a skill, the odds of achieving the goal plummet.

So, lets start with the components of behaviour change and how we can apply it to the desire to transform our health and fitness. The technical term for behaviour change is self-regulation and Dr. Roy Baumeister, a Social Psychologist at the University of Florida, one of the foremost experts on behaviour change (and the researcher responsible for the concept of willpower as a muscle) lists the ingredients of self-regulation as:

In order to change we need a clearly defined standard, something to align with. Standards can be cultural, political, philosophical or even spiritual. Belching by the campfire is perfectly fine (even a little competitive with my family), but not so acceptable during a classroom lecture, or a sermon in church.

This is measurement. Tracking and measuring the thing were looking to change. With exercise, lets say youve decided to walk or run, it could be time, distance, or speed, (the distance over time) If you want to change something you need an initial measure and some feedback to make sure that actions you take are having the desired effect.

Better known as willpower, this is the strength we exhibit in resisting actual temptation and sticking to our plans for change. Its the power to pass-up something that we want, but that we understand might not be in our best interests. It may, or may not be like a muscle, but there are definitely strategies to boost it when we need it.

This is the need to take action. Its the internal (or external) driver for taking whatever actions we take. When it comes to food, hunger is our motivation to eat, its unfortunate that it isnt always the primary reason This is where we can really apply our strategies and techniques to stay on task.

The idea of ingredients in a recipe is a really good one!

As I mentioned in the last article, were all different in our reasons for wanting to change our nutrition, our exercise, or both.

Whatever the reason is, its uniquely yours, and like a recipe each of these components needs to be considered, in varying degrees, when you decide that its time for a change. Any change! Turning back to the cooking analogy, if you understand salt, spice, fat and heat you can cook pretty much anything.

It might be aesthetics, reducing bodyfat, or increasing muscle mass

It might be performance, running longer or faster,

Or maybe its function, reducing pain from injury or disease.

Whatever the reason is, its uniquely yours, and like a recipe each of these components needs to be considered, in varying degrees, when you decide that its time for a change. Any change! Turning back to the cooking analogy, if you understand salt, spice, fat and heat you can cook pretty much anything.

Lets look at weight loss, or more specifically improvements to body-composition and how the first ingredient of behaviour change, standards, can apply. Were going to look at setting a goal (which is part of the idea of a standard) and ensuring that we make that goal, salient (especially meaningful) by applying personal standards to it. Theres a lot more to setting goals that work, and Ill address that in the future, but for now, lets see how we can take a little self-awareness and work it into our plan for change.

I love cardiovascular exercise. Its good for your brain and your body, from both a health and an aesthetics perspective. Now, improving your body composition can be a challenge given the power of the relationship with the foods we eat, but if youre sedentary, improving your health can be as easy as regularly going for a long, brisk walk. Providing your physically capable, this is a great place to start, but some people just dont like it. (Yet)

One of my friends, and a long term client, really didnt like walking for exercise, but she loved dogs. She regularly volunteered at the local SPCA where she would walk the dogs waiting for adoption. We had talked about how to incorporate specific behaviours that would help with weight maintenance, longevity and mood, and getting outside and walking definitely met those criteria. Theres a greenway walking trail near our local SPCA and so she was able to get outdoors in nature, be of service to her four-legged friends, and get some extra cardio.

With a little analysis and strategy she was able to take that healthy vital behaviour of a brisk nature walk and transform it from a low-motivational chore into an activity that she really wanted to do. Now that weve got a bit of base to work from, each week Ill take one of those ingredients of self-regulation, explore it in a little more detail, and then give an example of how it can be applied to your plans for change.

Sean Hawthorne is the owner and operator of OneLife Health and Wellness, Kelownas first and longest running private, personal training facility. While working in Dubai, UAE as a Contracts and Project Manager, Sean decided to leave his successful career in Civil Engineering Technology and pursue his passion for health, fitness and helping others achieve their goals. He returned to Canada in 2001, taking formal education in Exercise Science and starting his career in the field of health and fitness. Working in collaboration with their clients, Sean and his team of health and fitness professionals strive to continually improve their skills and to help everyone reach their goals.

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HAWTHORNE: The missing piece of the weight loss puzzle? - Keremeos Review

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