Let me put a few stats in front of you.
80% of Americans do not meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic and strength training exercise.
80% of Americans are either overweight or obese. Hmmm…do you see any resemblance there?
19 out of 20 people are unsuccessful dieters. And, yet, apparently at any given time, something like 50% of us are on a diet.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
Bottom line: For the most part, there are people who exercise regularly and people who don’t. There are people who lose weight and keep it off, and people who don’t.
It would seem that, given the statistics above, most people don’t and don’t. This is very sad. But, it keeps the diet industry thriving. It also keeps the fitness industry raking in money from people who don’t end up with a regular exercise habit.
It’s clear that many people are trying, but for many reasons, it just doesn’t happen. This is very sad too.
And, some diet or fitness plans really do try to keep people engaged. Furthermore, to say there has been research on what works and what doesn’t would be a vast understatement.
I would like to give you some magic bullets here. Something that you could use to inspire yourself or someone you know who may be struggling with this. And, I do mean struggle.
Here’s what I have found (trust me, I have read a lot about this).
Getting guidance or coaching often works. But not always.
Having a support group of people to commiserate with often works. But not always.
Incentives like getting paid, being part of a research program, receiving some other type of reward is not a sustainable way to get people to stick with a diet or exercise program. It makes for a lot of research, but is not necessarily something that can help the 80%.
In other words, what works for any individual may not work for another. People are all over the map. They have different personalities, cultures, family dynamics, opportunities, preconceptions, and on and on.
You can, however, look at the ones who have been successful at making a long-term improvement in their diet and exercise. Some of the mysteries continue, but there are a few things that stand out.
Here, I am going to reference the National Weight Control Registry. It’s an organization that was founded in 1999, and registers people who have lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for more than a year. Currently there are around 10,000 people in this registry. Turns out the average weight loss in the group is actually 66 pounds, and the average sustained weight loss is 5.5 years. Impressive.
Impressive, but that’s 10,000 out of millions who still need to make a change.
Here’s a kicker. 45% of those registered said they did it on their own! 55% said they initially got help. Again, it’s all over the map. And, we still don’t know WHY they decided to make the change.
But the next one warms the cockles of my heart. Almost to a person, the ones who keep the weight off EXERCISE an hour a day (mostly walking).
Then there’s another one. Those who stuck with it say that they end up actually finding pleasure in their healthier lifestyle and the liberation from constant dieting.
There is something else that is clear from some other studies. One major predictor of who will regain the weight is the speed at which the weight is lost. If it’s quick, the pounds are more likely to come back on.
TURNS OUT, THERE ARE A FEW MAGIC BULLETS AFTER ALL FOR BOTH DIET AND EXERCISE.
- FOR ANY DIET OR EXERCISE PLAN TO WORK, SLOW IS BETTER. Start small, stay comfortable with it, and build from there, making small changes going forward.
- IT’S A LIFESTYLE CHANGE, NOT A QUICK FIX. For some reason, many people are always looking for the next diet or exercise fad that they think will finally the “the one” that works. And, they want results fast, allegedly to keep them motivated. We have to give this approach the Blooper Award. With all due respect, it is not going to work. The stats don’t lie.
SO…IF you have a friend, relative, or acquaintance (maybe even yourself) that is going to go on yet another diet or jumping into a new fitness project with no REAL long-term plan, don’t encourage them (or yourself). Tell them to take the turtle approach (slow and steady). It gives the best chance of becoming a statistic…a good statistic, that is.
© 2018 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.