Feeling Good Better than Weight Loss

By Gina V.
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Skip_1 Fit as a fiddle

Like a kid again

A million bucks

Full of P and V

These are terms that we use to describe feeling great in our bodies and minds. For a lot of us, it’s been a long time since we’ve had anything like these phrases cross our minds or our lips. One of these phrases in particular sticks out to me…."Like a kid again."

Do you remember when you moved your body for fun, you rode your bike until you thought that you had two legs and two wheels as part of your body, you climbed because you could, you hung upside down from the monkey bars because it was thrilling, did somersaults or rolled down a hill just to see what it felt like, and practiced turning cartwheels while pretending to be in the Olympics?

Let’s go a step further – do you remember when you ate because you were hungry, stopped when you were full, and didn’t spend significant amounts of time thinking about food? And what about getting mad at your best friend – didn’t you get it out, then celebrate making up by bouncing on the neighbors trampoline?

So what has happened to our ability to move, eat and think in a way that doesn’t cause stress or strife, but joy? I guess that would be growing up and taking on more and more of other people’s expectations, expecially in regard to the American obsession with "healthy eating," pre-occupation with acceptable body types, dieting for weight loss, exercise for weight loss, and thinking for weight loss.

Let’s turn back the hands of the clock (or calendar :-) and do things because they make us feel good – making food choices that make our body and mind feel good, moving our body because it feels good to use it, and giving ourselves a break in the stress department. If you need more encouragement than just me, take a look at the article below about how kids view exercise and activity.

Now skip to my Lou my darling!

Kids exercise to feel good, not lose weight

By Amy Norton Thu Dec 8,10:15 AM ET 

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Children and young teens may be more likely to exercise if they’re motivated by fun and fitness rather than weight concerns, a new study suggests.

In a study of 200 students (average age, 12-1/2 years) at one Pennsylvania middle school, researchers found that "personal fulfillment" was the only motivation to be active. That meant that kids tended to exercise for the sake of their health and athletic skills, and to simply feel good — and not in order to shed pounds or to emulate their friends or parents. The findings, according to the study authors, point to a potential way to encourage more kids to exercise: highlight the fun and fitness.

It was something of a surprise that middle-schoolers would want to exercise for the health benefits and the pure enjoyment, study co-author Katie Haverly told Reuters Health.

One might expect that young adolescent girls, in particular, would be more motivated by weight loss, noted Haverly, who was with the State University of New York at Albany at the time of the study. She is now based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

But weight goals did not spur kids to exercise. In fact, personal fulfillment was the only factor that was important for all students, regardless of their weight. Even though overweight children put more value on weight loss than their thinner peers did, personal fulfillment was still a more important motivation to be active, according to findings published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Given the increasingly sedentary lifestyles U.S. children are leading, experts believe it’s important to find new ways of motivating kids to get off the couch and away from the computer.

If kids are indeed motivated by health, skill-building and fun, then physical education in schools may be able to play a key role, according to Haverly. Not all kids have the athleticism or interest needed for organized sports, she pointed out, so it’s important for them to have the chance to exercise in a non-competitive, health-focused way.

In addition, she noted, exposing kids to a range of activities in gym classes can help them find the ones that they enjoy and might stick with.

Haverly said she believes school administrators and government, through funding, should make physical education a greater priority.

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, December 2005.

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3 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Mary C says:

    I have a child that seems to be in the habit of eating when she is bored. I’ve thought about giving an appetite suppressent, but do not like giving (or taking for that matter) medicine. I saw a page about Hoodia and thought it didn’t look so bad….

  • Gina V. says:

    Hi Mary -

    You didn’t really ask for advice, but I hope you’ll consider this. It’s great that you noticed that your child’s boredom leads to mindless eating. I’d really approach this from a perspective that has nothing to do with restriction, but rather ENLARGEMENT! More activities, lessons, sports – whatever stimulates her mind and her body.

    The study that I make reference to in my post (http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/4545107) backs the idea of being involved with life for better health – while a study is great, I know it to be true from experience. The WORST thing that could happen is that your child (a daughter?) is made to feel different and somehow “broken” by attempts to “fix” the problem.

    Here is a direct quote from the study, “personal fulfillment was still a more important motivation to be active, according to findings published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

    Given the increasingly sedentary lifestyles U.S. children are leading, experts believe it’s important to find new ways of motivating kids to get off the couch and away from the computer.”

  • Gina V. says:

    One last thing – since Mary mentioned supplements or appetite suppressants, I just wanted to remind everyone that supplements can range from effective to useless, helpful to harmful. It’s very important to be cautious with what you’re considering taking – supplements can be serious medicine.

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