36 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY JUNE 13-19, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com FACE TO FACE How’s that New Year’s resolution going? Well, two CSU Monterey Bay professors have recently published a study that has determined the science behind what motivates those who stick with their goal of losing weight. Director of Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory Trish Sevene and health behavior change researcher James Annesi published a study in The Permanente Journal—Kaiser Permanente’s medical journal—titled “Short- and Long-Term Weight Loss Among Women is Unrelated to Completed Exercise Within an Obesity Intervention Focused on SelfRegulation.” And if the title seems a bit academic, the researchers studied 110 women with obesity who wanted to lose weight and observed their exercise routines. While the amount of exercise is indeed important, along with proper diet, the study found another component. Self-regulation refers to the psychological tools needed to overcome barriers when we lose our motivation— essentially mindset—and it turned out to be the best predictor for sustained weight loss. The study concluded that the less adverse we feel to exercising and eating well, the better equipped we are for sustained weight loss. Putting numbers to the study concluded that the dropout rate reduced from the typical 60 percent to around 20-25 percent once the participants were given the mental tools needed. Weekly: So is it really more about mindset than actual exercise? Annesi: The recommended amount of exercise for weight loss is 150 minutes per week of fast walking. But less than 8 percent of people will actually complete those 150 minutes. It’s obviously aversive. We found within this study that it was not associated with the amount of exercise you are performing, but it is associated with the self-regulatory skills. Did those results surprise you? Sevene: Yes and no. It is well known to both the public and researchers that sustained weight loss is a complex issue, so teasing out some of the intricacies could go in many directions. What was interesting in this work was the success of subjects outside of the traditional exercise recommendations. Does this study affect how you view exercise at all? Annesi: No. This was proving a hypothesis that I was working under. Basically, the programs I set up are designed to get these psychological changes to work for both exercise adherence and for sustaining weight loss. It was assumed that the exercise itself wasn’t associated with weight loss. It was much more than eating and exercise was the vehicle. Even doing a couple sessions per week gave people that sense of accomplishment, and it gave them the ability to embed those self-regulation skills. They have to know them well enough to use them to get over barriers. So how could people best change their mindset if they want to lose weight? Sevene: Positive self-assessment and thinking are very important when seeking long-term success in many aspects of life, including weight loss. Be your own best and most loyal fan. Be your own “Swiftie.” Seek out science-based tools for self-regulation and learn how to deal with setbacks in a controlled positive way. Would you say that this study was more about exercise or more about eating? Annesi: It was the transfer of the exercise behaviors to the eating behaviors. Exercise is just the vehicle by which the eating behaviors change. What about the human mindset and self-regulation do you think led to the conclusion you found? Annesi: I’m a behavioral psychologist, and I don’t go through the assumptions that just informing people will be enough to cause change. Most physicians do that. Most people think that if you sit a person down and look at them eye-to-eye and tell them they need these changes and make sure they understand, they will agree to making them. But the barriers hit, and then the best intentions fail. I would say that 95 percent of interventions focus on just that. This is a very small information exchange. The long-term goals need to be broken down into short-term goals. The shortterm goals need to be broken down into process goals, like going from exercising 20 minutes per session to 45 minutes per session. The short-term goal goes to feedback. Then it goes to a plan of action, which is largely surrounded by eating. Actually, if you can get fruits and vegetables up, then the rest of the diet will fall into place. Losing Mindset Two CSUMB professors published a study on the science of staying motivated to lose weight. By Sloan Campi Besides working as research faculty, James Annesi has held roles such as serving on a scientific advisory panel for the American Council on Exercise and as vice president of health initiatives for the Central Coast YMCA. DANIEL DREIFUSS Laguna Grande Park 1059 Canyon del Rey Blvd CELEBRATE WITH US! The 1st year anniversary of the Seaside Certified Farmers Market, 3 -7 pm with a ceremony at 4pm! To RSVP or purchase a basket of market goodies, visit: everyonesharvest.org or info@everyonesharvest.org -Local Vendors -Farmers -Live Entertainment -Kid’s Activities