Introduction And Summary
I chose exercising and dieting for weight loss as my behavioral intervention project. I selected this option to help me reduce and sustain healthy body weight. The theory utilized in my project was the theory of planned behavior. The decision to use this theory came from the assumption that the theory establishes a link between attitudes and behavior.
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The theory explains how a change in behavior is acquired and sustained through change in attitude and controlling undesirable behaviors. The theory states that a given behavior often results into a certain outcome.
It stresses on the need for self evaluation to ensure that the desired change is sustained while minimizing instances of negative outcomes. There are several research studies that show that application of the theory has had a major impact in health related behavior change.
My aim was to cut weight by 10 pounds at the end of the exercise.
My 8 week program enabled me to shade off 8.9 pounds against the targeted 10 pounds. There were various challenges in trying to adapt to a new lifestyle but I managed to beat that using well formulated strategies.
First, I changed my environment by getting read of unhealthy foods, changing my mindset and utilizing methods that have been tested and proven. In the end I was happy to have achieved a great deal of health behavior required to keep fit.
Eight week plan for dieting and exercising for behavior change (1st October – 30th November)
To implement the behavior intervention project, I planned to do a physical activity for three days a week (Saturday, Monday and Wednesday) and diet for the entire period. The project begun on 1st October 2011, I started by walking for an hour in the morning for three specified days of the first week.
On the second day (2nd October), I made a decision to start buying low fat foods including dairy products, wheat, bread, organic eggs and whole grains.
On the third day I introduced a strategy of cutting my sugar intake, reduced the amount of sugar in my coffee, tea and begun to use olive oil for my cooking instead of the usual oil that has high amount of cholesterol. On Wednesday (5th October) I went and registered with a sports and health club.
On the second week (8th – 14th October) I continued with eating healthy foods. I introduced lean protein on my menu by taking one two servings a day. I continued to walk for one hour in the morning for the three days.
On day 1 of that week (Saturday 8th) I went to the sports club in the afternoon where I enrolled for ZUMBA dancing sessions. My program was largely unchanged for the remaining two days of the week as I repeated what I did on day one.
The only difference is that I went for ZUMBA dancing in the evenings rather than in the morning. My instructor told me to formulate a workout schedule so that I could keep track of the activities I am doing. I also found this important as it would guide me to achieve my goal of loosing 10 pounds in 8 weeks.
Additionally, I was to identify a friend or any other person attending the sports club with whom we could encourage each other. My schedule included one cardiovascular exercise and a group fitness class for each of the three days I go to the gym.
On the third week (15th – 21st October 2011) I continued taking the lean diet but with slight variations. I did not feed on eggs and I further reduced the intake of whole grain so as not to replace the fat I was loosing during my workouts. On first workout day (15th October), I jogged for approximately 45 minutes in the morning and went to the health and sports club in the evening.
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On that day I tried salsa dancing for 30 minutes for my group fitness class activity and rode a stationary bicycle for the cardiovascular activity.
I repeated this on the second workout day (17th October 2011). On the third day I walked for one hour in the morning, went to the sports club and did treadmills as a cardiovascular exercise and repeated the salsa dance. Salsa dance is less involving compared to ZUMBA dance therefore I did it for longer, about one hour.
On the fourth week (22nd – 27th October), I walked for one hour every morning for the three workout days, went to the sports club, did the salsa dance for 30 minutes everyday and one cardiovascular exercise; stationary bicycle on Saturday, treadmills on Monday and stair-steppers on Wednesday.
At the end of that week my body weight had reduced by 3 and half pounds. This was a great achievement compared to what I had initially thought. I was greatly motivated by the results. It became apparent that with little effort I would achieve my intended goals.
On the fifth week (29th October – 4th November) I repeated the routine, fat free diet everyday, walking in the morning for one hour and exercising at the health and sports club in the evening. The only difference is that I stopped taking salsa dances and went back to the ZUMBA classes as Zumba dancing proved to be more effective.
In the sixth and seventh weeks (5th November – 18th November 2011) I jogged for one hour on every worked day. In the evenings I would go to the health and fitness center and attend ZUMBA dancing sessions and complement it with one cardiovascular activity.
By this time I had gotten used to the routine and there were signs that I was accepting my new life. My diet was largely unchanged as I did not take any food with high fat content.
On the last week (19th – 25th November) I jogged in the morning for the three workout days (19th, 21st and 23rd November 2011). I went to the health and sports club in the evening and did salsa and treadmills on the first day, salsa and stationary bicycle on the second day and ZUMBA dance and stair – steps on the third day.
At the end of the eight week program my weight had reduced by 8.9 pounds. This was slightly below what I had intended to achieve and I felt a strong urge to continue with my new lifestyle.
Behavioral Change Strategy
Theory of planned Behavior
A good theory that would help me achieve my objectives formed the biggest component of my strategy. I chose the theory of planned behavior for this behavior change project due to the fact that the theory links attitudes and behaviors. The theory was put forward by Icek Ajzen to extend the theory of reasoned action. Currently, the theory can be described as one of the most persuasive theories that are applied to change behavior.
The theory does not only support the use attitudes and other norms described in the original theory of reasoned action, the theory of planned behavior utilizes some aspect of perceived behavioral control that was put forward by Bandura.
Bandura stated that people’s expectations have a great influence on their behaviors. Several studies have shown that an individual’s behavior is heavily influenced by confidence in the actions required to accomplish certain tasks.
Attitudes towards behavior and the expected outcome
The theory of planned behavior defines the kind of relationship people have with their beliefs. The model states that people evaluate behaviors based on their individual beliefs in regard to that behavior. Belief can be described as a probability held in a subjects mind that a certain kind of behavior will produce certain results
. It can be described as a variable that links an individual’s attitude, beliefs and the expected results. Thus it purports to evaluate the positive outcomes of an individual’s efforts, which is very much similar to the concept of the benefits one expects.
In this regard, negative evaluation can be equated to perceived barriers and this can be described as the assessment of the potential negative outcomes that will accompany the adoption of the chosen health behavior.
Social influence is assessed using the social model together with the normative beliefs which are both stated in the theory of planned behavior. In this perspective, people tend to do things that they see other people doing.
For instance, a child will think it’s natural for him or her to start smoking just because most members of his family smoke. Social influence mostly comes from one’s peers and family. Health related behavioral changes are often influenced by social networks such as the peer group, school and family.
Strengths and limitations of the theory
Analysts have pointed out that the theory of planned behavior, more than other theories, explains the relationship that exists between the intention to adopt a behavior and the behavior itself.
Several studies carried out to compare effectiveness of behavior change theories have found that the theory of planned behavior can be used to better predict the results of behavioral intensions that are related to health. It has been identified that the theory particularly improved prediction in fields such as the use of condoms, exercising and dieting.
Similar to the theory of reasoned behavior, the theory of planned behavior explains an individual’s social behavior by putting into consideration social norm aspect as one of the important aspects.
Some of the limitations of the theory of planned behavior include:
The theory is solely based on cognitive processing and overlooks other important aspects. For instance, it overlooks other variables such as threat, negative feelings, fear, positive feelings and the mood of the individual in question.
Self monitoring strategy
As stipulated in the theory of planned behavior (TPB), I formulated a self monitoring strategy to help me stick to my program. There are a number of ways that have been proposed for monitoring an individual’s health habits. I chose to update my food and exercise journal so as to keep track of the progress. In addition, I took weight measurements regularly to ensure that my program was truly effective.
I also implemented some stimulus control measures to prevent the temptation of sliding back to the undesired habits. First, I restructured my environment by getting rid of all undesired foods from my refrigerator and stocking it with the desired foods that would help me reduce my body weight.
I also decided to eat at the kitchen table only, and not while doing other activities such as watching programs on the TV. I also decided to get rid of snacks so that I am not tempted to eat between the meals. To enforce this, I had to brush my teeth immediately after eating so as not to be tempted to run back and eat more.
I ensured that my exercise clothes were laid out for very morning of exercise days so that I was constantly reminded of the exercise program.
During the second week of my program, I attended a social situation and I got myself taking a few bites, thus I planned that whenever such an occasion arose I would eat first or carry my own food.
I read from an article that if you eat slowly, you eat less due to the fact that your body has enough time to send signals that it has had enough. Several studies cited in the article seemed to indicate that it may take up to one hour for the body to feel satisfied. Thus I decided to start eating slowly, at an average of 30 to 45 minutes depending on the type of food.
I also implemented some cognitive methods to help me monitor my dieting and exercising program. I stopped blaming my self for poor feeding habits, and approached the problem realistically.
This way I was more able to stay focused so that I would meet my objectives. Instead of believing in the negative feelings and thoughts that had formed part of me I decided to give more concentration to the various pieces of evidence that helped validate my course.
Estimated amount of exercise required
I intended to loose 10 pounds in 8 weeks, thus I had to identify the amount of exercise required by to achieve my goal. This implies that I was to loose 1.25 pounds or 0.57 Kilograms a week.
Previous research has estimated that ½ kilo of body fat is equivalent to 16,000 kilojoules or about four thousand calories. This implies that in order for me to get rid of 10 pounds in 8 weeks I was required to burn approximately a sixth kilogram of fat a week, which is equivalent to 2,500 kilojoules or 600 calories everyday.
Research indicates that an average individual can burn around 180 calories by jogging for 30 minutes. Cardiovascular exercises can be burn up to 500 calories per hour.
Dancing for fitness can achieve up to 300 calories per hour. Using this information, I was in a better position to plan my exercises.
My plan was to exercise for three days and burn up to 3000 calories. This implies that I was to burn up to 1000 calories every workout day. This was I difficult target for me but I was going to give it a try.
To achieve this I planned to Jog or walk in the morning for one hour and burn up to 320 calories. Then go to the health and fitness center in the evening and dance for 30 minutes to burn around 180 calories and do a cardiovascular exercise that would burn an extra 500 calories.
However, research indicates that there can be a significant difference between the estimated results and the actual results. This mainly occurs due to differences in fitness levels, energy levels and motivation and the preferred exercise program.
Consistency as a vital strategy
I knew that in order to achieve my weight loss goal of 10 pounds I really needed to be consistent in my efforts. It is often difficult for a person to adopt a new diet or exercise program but I knew that I needed to accomplish that to get the kind of results I wanted. Thus I was required to be consistent with my meal sizes and ensure that I exercised on time for a specific duration everyday.
Indeed, research shows that differences in the intensity of exercising may damage an individual’s muscles. They point out that the exercise must not always be about burning calories, it has to adapt itself to a person’s emotional response. For instance, the exercise has to gradually raise a person’s heart rate and keep it up for approximately 30 minutes.
The theory of planned behavior helped me to focus on changing my lifestyle through consistent dieting and exercising. I knew that by focusing on dieting or exercising, I would regard this as temporary measure meant to loss weight.
In order to build my consistency, I begun my program with easy to manage things. I then gradually developed to more complex ones. This was done during the first week of the program.
Summary Of Change
Change in Behavior
As far as the objectives for behavior change are concerned I believe that my efforts were successful as I managed to shade off 8.9 pounds out of the targeted 10 pounds. This change in lifestyle was a big milestone for me as I had really tried it earlier without success.
My strategy to be consistent with my dieting and exercising program helped me achieve the impressive results. I managed to do away with snacks and junk food which had initially formed an important part of my eating program.
I must however admit that it was quite challenging at the beginning, I found myself putting in a great deal of effort to adapt to the new program. Converting theory into practice was especially challenging. I had to identify ways to motivate myself. With the help of my health and fitness club instructor, I managed to beat this by finding identifying people with a similar course to support me through.
To this date I still continue with my dieting program as I do not want to reverse the gains I have achieved.
Benefits of change
Several sources recommend healthy lifestyles as an important way of keeping lifestyle diseases away. Eating foods with less fat prevents one from accumulating dangerous cholesterol levels in the blood vessels. Low fat diets also help prevent instances of diabetes as the blood sugar is kept within the acceptable range.