Weight loss a dance, not a battle: UWO professor
London Community News
UWO professor says self-respect is an effective weight loss tool
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News
One University of Western Ontario professor shared a fresh approach to a traditional New Years resolution Wednesday evening (Jan. 4). As part of Western and the London Public Library’s joint initiative called Classes Without Quizzes, Dr. Jennifer Irwin talked to a group of around 50 people of all shapes and sizes about how self-respect can be an effective weight loss tool.
“My hope is that people would leave tonight with something to think about themselves personally that might spur them on to make a change that suits them,” Irwin said following her lecture at the London Public Library’s central branch. “I think my final message would be to be gentle with yourself, be kind with yourself and realize that weight change is a journey that takes time.”
Irwin noted saddling yourself with short-term solutions like painful diets, discouraging weigh-ins and disappointing attempts at will power won’t fix the problem. She added long-term or permanent change would take more than just tweaking or overhauling lifestyles, but to how individuals view themselves too.
She added a positive personal outlook combined with the view that an individual is worth the healthy snack or 15 minute walk, can turn weight loss into something people want to do, rather than a punishment.
“Let (weight loss) be a dance, not a battle,” Irwin explained. “Letting yourself feel good when you’re on the journey to where you want to be.”
With New Years resolutions recently set and being worked towards, the library’s Stevenson Hall wasn’t unlike a fitness room — filled to the brim. But, Irwin said people’s annual weight-loss goals isn’t necessarily what packed the house.
“I think overweight and obesity are on the minds of our community on a regular basis,” she said. “It could be that New Year's is a time where people say, ‘I’m going to make a change,’ and we’ve also found that people really want to make a change all year ‘round'.”
Along with fielding personal questions, the group’s attentive silence was challenged by chuckles as Irwin broke up the talks with impromptu question and answer sessions and by injecting humour into the conversation.
According to Irwin, overweight and obesity is something that effects many Canadians. She said 11.1 million adults (around 50 per cent) within this country’s borders are overweight and around 15 per cent are obese. She added one-third of children, beginning at two years old, are either overweight or obese.
But, it wasn’t these staggering figures that piqued Irwin’s interest in the correlation between feeling good about yourself and weight loss. In fact, it was a trend she noticed while working as a life coach — as people sorted through their feelings and problems, self-respect rose and pounds were dropped.
From there, Irwin, along with a team, started more studies, which she said have become very popular.
“It developed from there and we started a graduate program where we started enrolling graduate students looking at the impact of life coaching and motivational interviewing on obesity and we’ve also expanded it to smoking cessation and our program has grown,” she said. “I think we’re one of the only programs in Canada, actually, that looks at this relationships.”
The next Classes Without Quizzes session will see Western’s Gordon Osinski present a program called “Are we Alone in the Universe?” It will be on Feb. 9 at the central library, starting at 7 p.m. For more information, check out Western’s website at http://communications.uwo.ca/CWQ.