Self-belief helps women shed kilos

Laura Mappas
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Do you believe in yourself? Image: Getty

A new study on the healthy ageing of women has found how you think governs what you eat and how much you exercise.

You are what you … think
Queensland University of Technology researcher, Rhonda Anderson, surveyed more than 560 south-east Queensland women aged between 51 and 66, asking them questions about their exercise and dietary habits. The study found that while women in their 50s were keen to make healthier exercise and dietary choices, their low self-belief was stopping them in their tracks.

"[Women in their 50s and 60s are at] an age when [their] weight tends to peak," Anderson said. "Self-efficacy is our belief that we can produce the result we want to produce, so a person with high dietary self-efficacy believes they can eat healthily no matter what — even when bored, upset, tired, on holiday or at a party."

A person with low self-efficacy, on the other hand, struggles to stick at things and often falters at the first sign of difficulty.

"People with high self-efficacy are motivated and optimistic, [while] people with low self efficacy avoid difficult tasks and when the going gets tough, they're more likely to give up," Anderson added.

High self-belief = weight loss
The study found that while being optimistic (people with high self-efficacy) gave them the motivation to persevere with healthy eating and exercise plans, being overweight or obese was also one of the factors that affected self-efficacy in the first place.

So what can be done to boost our self-belief? According to Anderson, "developing skills, having role models and getting encouragement from others" are important to developing self-efficacy.

"Education is also a factor," Anderson said. "Women with a tertiary education [are] more likely to have high self-efficacy for exercise.

"A lot of women in their 50s were keen to improve their health, and we need to take advantage of that."

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