Fitness: three annoying truths
Three things about Fitness annoy me*
1. Buying a DVD doesn't make me thinner -- I have to actually follow the workout. I don't know how many exercise DVDs I have on my bookshelf, but it's an alarming number. Most of the time, the only exercise I get from them is the calories lost when I dust them off.
2. Working out doesn't mean it's okay for me to pig out. This goes back to Crabby's classic post on entitlement. For some reason I have firmly implanted in my head the idea that I earned that tiramisu by 20 minutes of aerobic exercise. Nyet. (Tiramisu calories = 420 calories. 20 minutes of brisk walking = about 110 calories. I hate it when math conspires against me.)
3. Fall. No, not Vanilla's problem re tripping over his running shoes, I
Plus, autumn means:
- 29 days until I have to open those bags of Halloween candy
- 56 days until I'm faced with pecan pie and all that stuffing
- 81 days until that feast with three types of pie, two types of stuffing, and a chocolate santa
It's tempting to try to start training for Christmas by dipping into the H candy early.
*That is, annoys me right now. Ask next week and the list might have changed.
Time to access my inner babysitter
Sometimes you need to listen to your inner child. Other times, you need to be firm with the little brat.
(It's odd -- I would never refer to someone's child as a brat, but I have no hesitation labeling my inner whiner as such.)
Do I sound a bit harsh? Apologies if your inner child is well-behaved. Mine? Well... how shall I put this.
And when I say "you," I of course mean myself.
I tend to defer to my inner child entirely too damn much. I rely on short-term solutions. Feeling down? Grab that fast food or glass of red wine. Never mind that you'll wake up tomorrow with an extra pound or a headache (or both).
Even science is against me: Delayed gratification linked to intelligence.
Do bribes work?
Now governments are getting into the act of giving incentives to help people lose weight.
In England, an anti-obesity strategy has been started. It features ways to get people involved in living a more healthy lifestyle. For example, they want to encourage employers to provide 'leisure vouchers' or staff weight-loss competitions.
A study of 200 people, carried out by independent researchers RTI International and the University of North Carolina, found that using money was the best incentive to encourage weight loss. They offered cash for each percentage of weight lost. (Don't get too excited: during the three month study, the highest payment was $14.)
Another three month study, undertaken ten years ago in northern England, gave people little motivational pep talks and in some cases offered 'leisure vouchers' to encourage weight loss. "At the end of the study, 55% of those who had six interviews plus 30 vouchers entitling them to free leisure facilities had increased their levels of physical activity compared to 35% of those who only received the chats."
Sounds good, but wait...
"However, when the researchers went back to people a year after the start of the study, they found that these short-term boosts in activity levels had not been sustained. One of the researchers, Martin White, said: 'We know how to get people active. The big challenge is to keep them active and to maintain that lifestyle.... If someone is obese, doing activity for three months will be good. But if they then go back to how they were, it won't really have helped them.' "
Some people, even Jillian Michaels can't help
What these two studies have in common, methinks, is that the incentive to exercise came from outside. Outer motivation isn't as effective. Even a professional trainer such as Jillian Michaels cannot help someone unless the person makes an internal decision to accept her help and do the necessary work.
It's like that guy who wanted to cheat on his girlfriend because she wouldn't lose 10 pounds. Incidentally, the other side of the coin, sidetaker.com has another guy complaining, but this time it's because his girlfriend has lost weight, and she's enjoying the fact that other men hit on her and find her attractive. It's tempting to try to set up the girl from the first post with the guy from the second, or something like that. If someone else is dissatisfied with your shape, but you aren't, then it's pointless trying to lose the weight. Or to lift the weight either.
Crabby's post the other day showed that a lot of you are really good about working out.
My question to you is: What's your secret?
Are you all lean, mean, self-disciplined fitness machines who all access your inner nazi or whatever you call that part of you that screams "you will get up out of bed at 5 a.m. and run around in the freezing cold!" (Your inner masochist?) How do you do it? Bribes? Threats? Incentives? Outcentives? What's up?