The second run of the BeFit program, organized by the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) and wellness solutions provider VLCC, saw 1,000 applicants attempt to join the competition, but only 120 were selected. Like the inaugural program of 2013, this year’s program also began on National Sport Day (NSD) in February and will surely see daunting challenges ahead of the participants.
The participants are given diet and exercise advice from the VLCC panel of experts and are weighed at regular intervals. They have a year to lose as much weight as they can, with the winner grabbing a hefty QR 100,000 and the runner up winning QR 25,000.
While weight loss is the deciding factor for determining the winner, the true success and challenge lie in inducing a healthy lifestyle change that lasts – in keeping with the spirit of National Sport Day; being healthy, free of preventable diseases as well as being active, truly engaged in everyday life.
While the goals may seem lofty, speaking to this week’s BeFit participant shed light on how the smallest things matter the most.
BeFit participant: Everyday life was uncomfortable while overweight
What bothered this week’s BeFit participant, Alaa al-Din, the most about being overweight was not his physical appearance, but how the daily activities that most take for granted were uncomfortable, and tiresome.
“Mundane things like walking for more than a few minutes or going up the stairs – all these things that were once so easy had become so difficult,” he said. “I would get tired so easily and I had to take regular breaks after something as simple as a short walk.”
What bothered the 45-year-old the most before he began the BeFit program, one of the many QOC and NSD initiatives aimed at increasing public awareness and participation in an active lifestyle, was that he was unable to properly spend time with his children.
“My children are still young so it is important for me to play with them, but I would get tired so quickly,” Alaa al-Din said, adding that this was his primary motivation behind applying for the annual program. By making small changes to his diet and physical activity he was able to see big changes in his life, which he says is essential to sticking to the VLCC program.
Instead of trying to change so many things at once, making one minute change at a time is much easier to maintain, according to Alaa al-Din – a claim supported by science.
Weekly weight loss tip: Conserve willpower by making one change at a time
Several studies published in various psychological journals over the years have examined what is known as willpower depletion; the idea that willpower is a limited resource and once this resource is depleted, people are likely to enact the very behavior they are trying to avoid.
An example of willpower depletion would be coming home after a long day and finding your favorite soft drink in the fridge, cold and enticing. You resist drinking it because you are on a diet and move to the living room. You sit down and notice a plate full of cookies on the table, your stomach grumbles, but you still resist.
You keep resisting all temptations until finally your willpower runs out. Defeated, you eat something which is outside of your diet plan.
The key to avoiding such disheartening slip-ups is to focus on making one change at a time. For example, first cut sugar-filled fizzy drinks out of your diet and just those fizzy drinks. Instead of trying to avoid a million different things all at once, just avoid one. Once that becomes a habit, move on to the next. The cumulative effect of these small changes over time is undeniable, and one is less likely to relapse.
While diet is by far the single most important factor for weight loss, exercise is crucial as it reinforces the idea of a healthy lifestyle change and releases feel-good chemicals in your brain that help combat the effects of willpower depletion.
Thankfully, QOC has numerous venues with state-of-the-art exercise facilities available to the public all year round. This week we will take a closer look at Qatar’s first Olympic Park.
Venue of the week: Barzan Olympic Park
Inaugurated in 2012, Barzan Olympic Park is the first Olympic park in the state of Qatar and offers the public numerous ways to get in shape. Located in Umm Salal just outside of the capital Doha, the park includes green areas, two football playgrounds, two tennis courts, a basketball court, cycling track (180m long, 2.5m wide), and walking/jogging lanes.
The world-class park also includes swimming pools, housed in a two story building. The adult pool (measuring 25m x 12.5m with a minimum and maximum depth of 1.50m and 2.50m respectively) resides on the ground floor while beside it lies the children’s pool (measuring 12.50m x 7.5m).
The Barzan Olympic Park is one of the numerous QOC venues open to all, and each week we will take a closer look at the venues and facilities across Qatar that encourage a healthy, sport-filled life.
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