A 2014 research review found in Marketing Letters examined three studies that explored the relationship between diet and exercise for weight loss. Interestingly, the review looked at the association between people’s framing of exercise as fun and their subsequent food choices. It concluded that those who perceived exercise as a fun activity (and not just a ton of effort) were less inclined to compensate with junk food after their workouts.
In the first two studies, participants performed exercises that were either described as exercise, or as fun, and were later served food: an all-you-can-eat scenario with both desserts and “normal” foods in the first study, and M&Ms from a self-serve container in the second. The findings from both suggest that the people who felt exercise was “fun” chose less junk food during those meals. Similarly, runners that had fun during a race in the third study tended to choose the healthier option of two given snacks.
There is hardly a soul who would stand up to make a case for poor health or the joys of feeling terrible, yet eight out of ten of us live our lives as if we’re afraid good health might sneak up on us and do us in. Look around any office, look at a random sampling of shoppers in a supermarket, and you will see paunchy, pallid, tired-looking people who probably eat the wrong food, drink and smoke too much, exercise rarely and, while not ill, are not well either. They drift into that miasma of stimulants, sedatives, snack foods, nicotine, late nights and slow wits that dulls the texture of each day; the victim never notices that his body and mind are working at half speed while his daily routine carries him along at an ever more frenetic pace.
I’ve been attempting to find “true north” in a lot of things lately. This series explores what I’ve found to be true in my own life. Your answers will probably differ; the point is to find what’s true for you.
Today’s topic is exercise. Here are three things I know are true.
The answer might come from researcher Dr. Carol Dweck, pioneer of the concept of “growth” and “fixed” mindsets. People with a fixed mindset believe abilities and talents are immutable traits; you either have them or you don’t. They take negative feedback personally because they don’t differentiate between their performance and themselves. They avoid challenge and see failures as being outside of their control.
On the other hand, those with a growth mindset believe skills and talents are acquired through education and hard work. They embrace challenge and use criticism to improve.
Those who see themselves as being unable to improve have fixed mindsets around fitness. They see themselves as a victim of circumstance, helpless to get fit. In reality, they need to hear some harsh truths and realize that fitness is as much of a skill as riding a bike.
Another trick is to think of yourself as a friend who’s asking for advice. Interestingly, people are great at seeing the rationalizations and lies of others, but are vulnerable to their own. By pretending that your situation is a friend’s instead, you’ll be more capable of defending yourself.
We procrastinate when it comes to exercise, even when we know it’s good for us. Even when we know that we’ll feel better afterward. It sucks because it’s just another difficult chore that we’re adding to our already full days. And even when we have nothing to do, the lure of digital fun is much stronger than the call of the elliptical machine.
Here’s a pretty good list of things to help your confidence levels and meet your personal goals.
Do you have a tip to add?
1. Wake Up
2. Make Breakfast Fast and Cheap
3. Go to Work Late (or Early)
4. Better Organize Your Work Day
5. Cut Out Tedious Tasks at Work with Text Expansion
6. Enjoy Your Time at the Office More
7. Stay Productive All Day
8. Upgrade Your Exercise Routine
9. Do Your Chores Faster and Easier
10. Solve Your Sleep Problems