OK, corporate-sponsored surveys are to be taken with a grain of salt. We all know that. Still, an item or two from a recent poll by Anytime Fitness gave me pause.
According to a press release, the folks at the national gym chain hired Synovate eNation to ask 1,000 people over age 18 how they felt about donning their board shorts and bikinis come June. The responses indicated that 60 percent of women and 46 percent of men felt they weren’t ready for swimsuit season.
OK, who ever is? But get this: “More than 70 percent of Americans would rather go to the dentist, do their taxes, sit in the middle aisle on an airplane, or visit their in-laws than go swimsuit shopping,” the release stated. Some 30 percent of women said they’d wear something to cover their whole body at the beach or pool.
That’s more than your standard, “Oh wow; I just finished the last of the chocolate-dipped Peeps, and it’s already summer. Guess I’ll have to do some extra laps…” type of talk. That’s self-loathing.
Naturally, the folks at Anytime Fitness suggest hitting the gym (preferably with a trainer) as the remedy for swimsuit dread. While I’m all for working out, let me suggest a somewhat backwards approach as well: Try loving your body first.
Weight loss having a positive effect on self-esteem is almost as well-proven as self-esteem having a positive effect on weight loss. (Here is one recent example of the mountains of studies on the topic.)
Yeah, that’s right. The better you feel about yourself, the easier it is to accomplish goals, like losing weight. So, the trick might not be the weight loss — which, say it with me, comes from eating less and exercising more — but the feeling better first part. How do you love your body in a biking before it hits the gym?
Maybe it’s not about loving the body, per se. Mind-body arts teach that the self is physical, mental/emotional and spiritual. If you’re putting too much emphasis on the physical third of the equation, and not enough on the other two thirds, it stands to reason that you’ll continue feeling bad no matter how thin you get… and that’s likely to push you right back into weight gain (or loss, or alteration — whatever your body obsession is).
Here’s some related evidence. A 2009 study, the results of which were published in Science Daily, found that yoga doesn’t bring about the physical conditions normally associated with weight loss (e.g., heart rate accelerated to calorie-burning levels). However, the regular yoga practitioners participating in the study lost weight anyway. Why? Because they were more mindful of how they ate.
In other words, cultivating mindfulness, working on that mind/emotion third of the self, made more difference than the type of exercise they were doing.
Think about that as you head to the gym in search of the cure for your summertime blues. You might want to make sure you’ve got enough money in your budget for therapy and church, too.