Many people determine they want to change their exercise and eating habits with the goal of losing weight. And while there’s nothing wrong having that goal, we want to remind you that weight loss is complicated. Difficult for most. And ironically setting weight loss as the reason for your behavioral change can make attaining that goal even more difficult.
A survey of nearly 10,000 Canadians indicated that 42.3% of us gained weight during the pandemic.
Hardly surprising given that gyms and yoga studios closed. It became more difficult to make regular trips to the grocery store to pick up fresh produce. And stress levels sky rocketed.
Stress plays a significant role in weight management. People may sleep less (yes – this encourages weight gain). People tend to eat differently – snacking more often and tending to choose foods higher in sugar and fat. Alcohol consumption may increase. And then the physiological responses to stress itself encourage fat deposition – especially around the midline.
Determining you need to lose weight often makes people stressed. The behavioural changes are then tinged with this stress. There is guilt and anxiety on the days when you aren’t able to make the exercise or healthy eating a priority, making the goal attainment paradoxically more difficult.
When people feel good, feel good physically, feel good about themselves emotionally – whatever their shape or size – it’s simpler, easier to make positive choices.
And so – exercising with the goal of feeling better, of feeling less stressed, more confident, more serene – these are the goals we encourage you to embrace. Strength training as an activity has been shown to make people feel better about themselves physically. And shift their goals too. As they start to feel stronger, being strong becomes more valuable. Ditto with feeling more focused, productive and happier. As you notice how exercise plays a significant role in delivering these psychological benefits you begin to crave and need the activity more. The mental health boosts drive to make the exercise a priority. “I’m so busy at work I can’t afford not to work out.” The great thing about goals that make you feel stronger, confident, productive, fulfilled is the payoff is both short and long term. One great workout can make you feel terrific. 200 great workouts stretched over the source of a year can make you feel like a rock star.
Know what else 200 workouts might do? Help you lose weight.
And if it doesn’t. That’s ok. Because you’ve found so many other amazing reasons to exercise. Whatever size you are – being physically active means you are far healthier.
We’re not for a second suggesting it’s not ok to decide you want to exercise and change your diet in order to lose weight. If that’s important to you, embrace the goal. If you are successful, go ahead and shout your pride and accomplishment from the hilltops. And if you embrace a few different goals along the way, the journey to the top of that hill will be more enjoyable, fulfilling and effective. And you’re far less likely to tumble back down.