In theory weight management is a ‘simple’ balance between consuming enough energy to adequately fuel ourselves and moving enough to ensure that extra energy is used up. However, in reality there is a complex web of influences that determine our eating and activity habits. We are becoming increasingly more sedentary and are prone to consuming more energy-dense foods. This combination is making the energy balance harder to achieve. When it comes to weight management interventions, what works for one individual is rarely guaranteed to work for the next and so there are real challenges to understand what the right mix of actions are to enable people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
I think what I found most intriguing about this programme was the emphasis it placed on the person, trying to build confidence and esteem to really convince people that they could achieve their weight loss goals. For example one of the activities that participants spoke about with most feeling was a step climb in a local park at the beginning of the programme. The Aspire providers discussed how this activity served two purposes: (i) to act as a ‘shock to the system’ by allowing the participants to really reflect on their current fitness levels and (ii) to provide a goal to work towards and make a commitment that it will never be that hard again. The group returned to this step climb at the end of the 26 weeks with smart phones in tow and there is some really fantastic footage that captures the excitement and pride at the progress they had made along with the disbelief at how it had once taken hours to complete.
Find out more about the programme and how participants felt about what worked for them.