Can you believe it, my friends? January is officially over and we are now well into February 2017!

This means, the gyms that were flooded on January 2nd are starting to “thin out,” along with many other well-intentioned “healthier” new year resolutions.

How do I know this? Statistics. (And visiting the gym. ;))

Most resolutions fail.

“Why?” You may ask.

Let’s put on our propeller hats and explore some evidence to find out.


“Feel the Pain to Gain!?”







The concept sounds good, if you want a less than 20% chance of “winning.”

In a longitudinal study that followed 200 “resolvers,” researchers aimed to discover the difference between success and failure of achieving one’s goals over 2 years. The study reported that only 19% were successful in maintaining their resolutions.

The authors stated:

Successful resolvers reported employing significantly more stimulus control, reinforcement, and willpower than the unsuccessful over the 2 years; social support and interpersonal strategies failed to predict success before 6 months but did so thereafter. Counterconditioning and fading were retrospectively nominated as the most efficacious coping strategies; paucity of willpower and failure of stimulus control were reported as the most hindering to maintenance. Fifty-three percent of the successful group experienced at least one slip, and the mean number of slips over the 2-year interval was 14. Slips were typically precipitated by a lack of personal control, excessive stress, and negative emotion. (1)


In laymen and women’s terms:

Well, uh….Yuck!






Willpower, removal of the temptation, and reinforcing “positive goals” seems like such “drudgery!”

Do you agree?

No wonder less than 20% of people can keep up with “forcing” change.

No fun, life is short. But, that doesn’t mean make your “exercise” fun by grabbing a doughnut to go. (Sorry :()

Dr. Mercola offers a better solution.

Focus on making lifestyle changes that are healthy and desirable, rather than an impulsive resolution that may has no intrinsic reward.

With my psychology hat on now, stylish propeller one aside, it appears that Dr. Mercola is talking about the self-determination theory (STD) of motivation. (2) (3) (4) (5) Although it has some limitations, it is very intriguing and has a lot of powerful supportive evidence. (2) (3) (4) (5)

Propeller hat back on…








According to a 2013 article in Psychology of Sport and Exercise,

SDT is comprised of several mini-theories. Grounded in the assumption that people have basic psychological needs to feel competent, autonomous, and a sense of belonging or relatedness to others, SDT predicts that as a result of developmental experiences that engender competence, autonomy, and relatedness, individuals will advance toward more autonomous (i.e., self-determined) motivational orientations. The most self-determined form of motivation is intrinsic motivation; the desire to engage in an activity because it is inherently pleasurable. This form of motivation is associated with behavioral persistence. Moreover, initially extrinsically motivated behaviors can become internalized and integrated into an individual’s sense of self, leading to more self-determined forms of extrinsic motivation, to the extent that needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness are supported by the social environment (Ryan & Deci, 2008). Thus, according to the tenets of SDT, self-determined motivations to exercise are a product of the extent to which the environment supports the satisfaction of psychological needs. (5)


In non-geek speech:

Well, first of all scientists and researchers like words.










Basically, this means that when you are doing something for the pleasure itself while meeting a psychological “need”, you will probably stick with that behavior more than if you make it about a specific goal in the future.

Here’s an example.

You decide to talk a walk with a colleague (preferably one that you like) every day after lunch. This is in order to feel more alert, less “stressed-out,” and because you know your “heart will love you for it.”

Can you see where this may keep you moving more than if you aim for a 40-minute power shred workout every day after work for weight loss?

Here he is again:







Furthermore, this satisfies the conditions of competence, autonomy, and relatedness as important mediators of motivation. (4) (5)


Some Mediators of Motivation

We know exercise is good for us, for many reasons.

In fact, here are some top stories from January month that relate to some positive health benefits to strive for with regular movement:

1.You May Live Longer and Stay Healthier

Researchers found that even irregular exercise can boost life span through analyzing data from more than 65,000 England and Scotland participants. Health Day states:

“On average, habitual exercisers live a couple of years longer than their peers who do not regularly exercise,” he said. “What’s more important, arguably, is that habitual exercisers may enjoy more years of independence and freedom from disease.” …

Compared to the inactive participants, weekend warriors had a 30 percent lower death rate, while regular exercisers had a 35 percent lower death rate. Those who were deemed “insufficiently active” had a 34 percent lower death rate than inactive participants, the study authors said.”


2. Exercise May Lower Inflammation

Many modern diseases are being linked to inflammation. (6) Exercise has evidence of mitigating these effects. (7) According to a recent study, positive immune benefits were related to a short 20-minute treadmill workout.


3. Exercise: An Antidote for Behavioral Issues in Children?

Health Day reports:

Children with serious behavioral disorders might fare better at school if they get some exercise during the day, a new study suggests. The researchers focused on children and teenagers with conditions that included autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.

They looked at whether structured exercise during the school day — in the form of stationary “cybercycles” — could help ease students’ behavioral issues in the classroom. Over a period of seven weeks, the study found it did. Kids were about one-third to 50 percent less likely to act out in class, compared to a seven-week period when they took standard gym classes.



Are Activity and Weight- Connected?







In a recent, very intriguing, international study, the controversy on the calories-in vs. calories-out theory again got debunked. The results of the researchers’ analysis found no statistical correlation between activity levels and weight. (11)


Actually, this is not new news. (7) (8) (9) (10)

This study stood out to me, because it had a spin…

It attempted to measure actual fat and body composition with movement. Here’s the method in the study:

A total of 1,944 men and women had baseline data, and at least 1 follow-up examination including measures of anthropometry (weight/BMI), and objective PA (accelerometer, 7-day) following the three-year study period. PA was explored as 1-minute bouts of moderate and vigorous PA (MVPA) as well as daily sedentary time.


Now, here’s two of the most important highlights:

1 Only women from Seychelles had a relationship between MVPA and weight loss, USA women actually gained weight! Men, well, there was no correlation.

Long version in geek terms:

Among the men, overall weight change did not correlate with 1-min bout MVPA at any of the sites. Because this was not the expected relationship, we also performed this analysis on only the participants who either gained or lost weight, but this also did not produce any statistically significant associations. For example, among the participants who lost weight, only women from the Seychelles had a significant relationship for 1-min bout MVPA and weight loss (r = 0.326, p = 0.015), while among participants who gained weight, the only significant relationship between PA and weight gain was among the USA women who actually had a positive result (r = 0.218, p = 0.026), indicating higher PA levels resulted in greater weight gain.


2. There was no consistent relationship between sedentary behavior and weight change. For Ghanaian women, there was a positive association!

Long version:

Sedentary behavior, in recent years, has been thought to be a key component contributing to an increased risk for overall morbidity and mortality, independent of daily PA. Therefore, we also examined the relationship between sedentary time at baseline and prospective weight change during the two-year follow up period (Tables 5A5C). Weight change was negatively associated with sedentary time at baseline, only among the Ghanaian women (r =  ? 0.147, p = 0.029), i.e., weight gain was less among those with greater sedentary time at baseline. We did not find any significant relationships between either weight gain or weight loss and baseline sedentary time among any of the sites (Figs. 2A and 2B). Furthermore, we found that the nature of the relationship between the two variables was inconsistent, with some relationships being positive, while others negative.


Bottom Line in the authors’ own words:

From our study with 1,944 young adults, higher volumes of PA at baseline were not protective against future weight gain, suggesting that other environmental factors, such as the food environment, may have a more pivotal role in weight gain. Recent evidence from the United States-based Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) cohort (Richardson et al., 2015) using 20 years of BMI follow-up data, found significant effects for neighborhood fast food restaurants, such that BMI increases were associated with a higher consumption of an obesogenic fast food-type diet. This was after controlling for effects of SES and PA (Richardson et al., 2015). Interestingly, PA among the young adults decreased from baseline to the first follow-up (seven years), but then remained stable during the subsequent three follow-up measurements (13 years), while BMI continued to increase.

Importantly, this is not to say, that PA per se is not important for overall achievement of health such as the prevention or delay of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which is undisputed (Glenn et al., 2015; Lin et al., 2015; Long et al., 2015), but that its role in the prevention of population level weight gain may be overstated. (12)

Of course, with any study there were limitations, but it was very compelling indeed!


So, basically, we know now that changing behavior and a healthier lifestyle will not only make desirable new behaviors stick, but the comprehensive approach may also make you reach your “weight loss goals” in the future successfully as well.









Now, find other ways to nurture yourself and help with making lifestyle more pleasurable here  Yes, I mention essential oils!

I didn’t forget, for those who enjoy skimming through the noteworthy health headlines of the previous month, click here.