People are obsessed with pictures of body transformations. The contrast seen in before and after pictures showcases the accomplishment of months, or even years, of dedication and hard work. Americans love shows like The Biggest Loser, which is in its 16th season. We incessantly follow fitness stars on social media, gawk at celebrity fitness transformations, and tell ourselves, "This year I'm going to do it, too."
Transformation pictures say, "I wanted my life back, and I worked harder than I knew I could to get it."
To learn more about why people dedicate so much time to regaining control of their lives, I spoke to Drew Canole of FitLife.tv about a recent study he conducted with his community of over one million members to better understand why (not just how) people retake control of their lives.
"Believe it or not, little research has been done on this issue. The medical and fitness communities tend to focus their attention on specific aspects of the journey -- exercise, nutrition, supplements, etc.," said Canole. "At FitLife, as members began sharing their transformation stories, we began to notice common themes across the entire journey of successful weight loss."
This inspired Canole and his team of health gurus to do their own research.
Canole explained that if he could learn what inspires people to begin, persevere and complete the process, then he could better assist others in doing the same. Drew asked over 1,000 of FitLife's members who recently reached and sustained their body transformation goals to answer a few questions. Here are a few themes he discovered:
When it comes to body transformation it is all up to you
FitLife was surprised to find out that the majority of members' transformations were not inspired by medical issues, a doctor's encouragement, or even concern about deteriorating health. In fact, 70 percent of respondents did not experience a serious medical issue or even speak to a doctor before beginning their journey.
And while most transformations were accomplished with the support of friends and family, less than 5 percent of members reported personal relationships as instigating factors. Thus, the transformations were truly for their personal benefit and not to appease someone else.
Support, support, support
While relationships may not be the driving force behind beginning a weight loss journey, they do become one of the most vital tools during a body transformation. Social eating and drinking can be a powerful accountability tool, especially when those around you share health goals. It can also be a pitfall: friends who do not share similar health ambitions can easily become a bad influence. We are social creatures and our behaviors are shaped by those around us. To successfully complete a body transformation, one of the greatest tools is the support of others who believe in you and your transformation goals.
"Almost none of our respondents indicated that their journey was completed alone or without coaching. Our members often reported that their personal relationships were key support systems in their journey to weight loss," said Canole.
Learn to leverage failure
While it's inevitable that you will feel like you're failing at times, your success is directly correlated with how well you handle those failures. Over one third of respondents said they attempted to transform themselves more than 10 times before succeeding. And 90 percent reported failing at least once before successfully losing weight.
If you have ever tried to retake control of your life -- quitting smoking, becoming financially stable, pursuing a different career, etc. -- you know how much dedication it takes to fail and start again. Perseverance is central to transforming any aspect of life.
Take your sweet time
Although it is easy to be discouraged, body transformations take time. The FitLife survey showed less than 25 percent of respondents reached their goals in less than 6 months. By contrast, a majority indicated that the process took them 1 to 2 years, with 2 to 4 years being the second most common answer. Transformations take time and gradual progress is the norm, not the exception!
Additionally, these transformations are not just for the youthful. Only 18 percent of transformations began before age 30, with the remaining 82 percent occurring in subsequent decades of life.
"Even though the majority of transformations start later in life, this shouldn't be a discouraging factor to anyone wanting to start their journey at any time," says Drew. "I want anyone who has the determination to achieve a successful health and lifestyle transformation to know that with significant changes, they can accomplish nearly any goal at any time in their life and they can always reach out to our community for support. As, I always say, 'We're in this together!'"