Looking to shed some pounds this year? Researchers at Brock have some advice for you.
Do it for the right reasons. Otherwise, you may be more likely to fail.
Philip Wilson and Diane Mack, associate professors in the Department of Physical Education and Kinesiology, are examining what motivates healthy eating and exercise by participants in commercial weight loss programs. They’ve discovered that your reasons for engaging in such activities might be the key to your success.
It’s a pattern consistent with other research into motives and healthy behaviour, Wilson said. If you’re doing it for yourself — intrinsic goals such as health or personal satisfaction — you are more likely to succeed over extrinsic goals like power or how you look to other people.
“Intrinsic goals related to feeling revitalized, positively changing your health and accomplishing a challenging activity, seem to provide better results than most of the common goals we see endorsed by these programs, which is weight management and promoting a better physical appearance and image,” Wilson said.
“This is not to say that having goals around managing your weight and improving your appearance are bad, it is just that they might not be as useful, motivationally speaking, with respect to promoting long-term healthy eating and exercising behaviours.”
Wilson, Mack and co-investigator Chris Blanchard from Dalhousie University collected data from 138 people participating in commercial weight loss programs like Weight Watchers, Herbal Magic, Jenny Craig and others. Their goal is to uncover what keeps people eating healthy and exercising when faced with the challenges of controlling body weight.
The study is supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Several Brock graduate and undergraduate students are also participating.
Researchers hope to produce a new motivational pamphlet for people in commercial weight-loss programs and determine the feasibility of using this new resource to change eating and physical activity behaviours in commercial weight-loss program users.
While commercial programs promote short-term weight loss, only 20 per cent of individuals embarking on the programs make the necessary lifestyle changes for sustained weight regulation.