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A Hobby a Day Keeps Weight Gain at Bay

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One of our readers asked if taking up a hobby can occupy your mind while you’re struggling with weight loss. What a great question! And the good news is: Yes! Hobbies can help with weight loss in a variety of ways.

Taking up a new hobby can provide physical and mental health benefits. In terms of weight loss and other physical benefits, some hobbies can have a direct impact. Learning to dance, bowl, do yoga or garden involves higher intensity so it burns calories, and that’s a good thing! Some of these activities might be more challenging during quarantine, but chances are that you have a game console somewhere in the house with a whole range of options you might not otherwise have considered (Archery, anyone?).

Non-physical hobbies like writing, crocheting, doing puzzles, creating music and so many others are also great options. Learning new things and engaging in leisure activities improves mood, reduces stress and lowers heart rates. And, as our reader noted, it keeps our minds occupied so we’re not focusing on weight or other worries or fears. This has become more important for our mental health over the past year. Even as vaccines offer hope as we move forward, it’s always good to engage the mind in a new endeavor, and it’s never too late to pick up a new skill or talent!

So, where to start? Whether you want to try one new thing or 20, think about what appeals to you. Once you come up with an idea — or two, or three! — check out YouTube to see if there are any videos to start you on your way (Spoiler alert: There are!). If you find yourself doodling on the backs of envelopes, check out a drawing tutorial. Did you just find out that your sister-in-law is pregnant? Order some yarn, learn a few basic stitches and you’ll have a beautiful, handmade blanket for a baby shower gift! Whatever you decide, remember that it’s a hobby. There is no need to be perfect — you’re expanding your creative horizons, not studying for an exam. Let it be fun!

Like the weight loss process itself, the effectiveness of a hobby to keep you occupied and interested depends a lot on the way you think about it. People who believe that they have control over their lives have greater success in losing weight and maintaining the loss — and sticking with hobbies! These are people who recognize when they have taken one trip too many to the buffet or that sleeping in instead of getting up to exercise will slow their weight loss efforts. Conversely, there are people who like to attribute (blame?) their lack of weight loss on external situations. In their thinking, if the weather is  bad they can’t be expected to go outside to exercise, so it’s not their fault they’re not losing weight.

Taking control and responsibility for your own actions is critical to weight loss success. This is not to say that you should punish yourself if you stray from your plan. We would all be in the “time-out” chair if that was the case! Rather, find a hobby — or hobbies — that work for you so that you want to stick with it. Give yourself some options: Perhaps one hobby for weekdays when you’re pressed for time and another weekend hobby for when you have more flexibility. Maybe you have an at-home versus outside hobby, or a solo versus group or family hobby. You get the picture. Whatever you choose, go for it! There is a world of opportunities waiting for you to enjoy them!

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