Build a better you with resilience

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 25th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When it comes to weight loss, what separates the successful from those constantly dieting and forever trying to lose those last five pounds? It’s swimsuit season and maybe you’re asking the question of yourself. A study from Florida State University set out to answer it, and found that one key personality trait — resilience — makes all the difference.

The study of more than 600 people looked at the personality traits of each participant, such as neuroticism, openness, friendliness and conscientiousness. They then evaluated their aerobic capacity while walking. The researchers found that traits such as openness were key to higher lung capacity; that is, the extra edge to push out another five minutes on the treadmill when your thighs are screaming at you to stop. Strong-minded subjects were also less likely to take up risky behaviors like smoking and more inclined to live a healthy lifestyle. A resilient mind makes for a better defense against stress, temptation and depression.

On the other hand, negative characteristics such as nervousness were linked with lower lung capacity. But if you consider yourself a negative Nancy and still want to get in shape, all is not lost. Resilience isn’t a have or have-not trait; you can build it with a little practice. Just like your biceps, your brain can learn to bounce back with some brawn-building exercise.

Learn to look at challenges as opportunities for improvement rather than insurmountable problems. Find the funny in difficult situations. Believe it will get better. In other words, hunt for the good stuff. Surround yourself with people who support your decisions and give you positive encouragement. Lift yourself up by listing all the things you’ve accomplished. Most of all, believe in yourself. That’s half the battle.