‘Tis the season of weight loss plans, particularly among women, as this NPR story discusses. For the weight loss industry, this first quarter of the new year is akin to Black Friday for retailers the day-after-Thanksgiving.

Special K called January 2, 2012, as National Weigh-In Day. To commemorate the event, Kelloggs commissioned a survey among women to find out what “inspires and tires” them when it comes to losing weight.

Two-thirds of women in the U.S. started or re-started a weight management plan on January 1st, 2012. Other times of the year when women initiate weight-loss plans are to prep for a special event (49%) and in the spring (57%) — presumably due to impending bathing suit season and the commonly-dreaded experience of trying-on-of-suits.

Instead of focusing on the weight number on the scale, Special K’s campaign is trying to change the conversation toward emotional gains garnered through weight loss. The top 3 emotional benefits gained through lightening up were:

  • Happiness, 79%
  • Confidence, 75%
  • Sense of achievement, 74%.

Women said what inspires women to lose weight is their ability to fit into old clothes (86%), wanting to eat healthier (74%), and living a more active lifestyle (67%).

What causes women to go off their well-intentioned plans are stress, holidays, and traveling.

The poll was conducted among 513 women ages 25-54 in December 2011.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Sunday’s New York Times, dated 1st January, 2012, was written in a first-person voice by Tara Parker-Pope, the stellar health journalist who writes the Times’ blog, Well. Tara wrote the magazine’s cover story, The Fat Trap, which tells a detailed history of loss, gain, and the latest research on calorie-counting, genetics, and sustained weight loss.

The National Weight Loss Registry tracks 10,000 people who have lost and kept off weight, Tara notes. These success stories have each adopted their own customized food and exercise regimes, from A to W (Atkins to Weight Watchers). They eat breakfast every day. And most importantly, what distinguishes the weight loss-winners is exercising at least an hour every day.

The Special K survey points out the emotional benefits of losing weight: happiness, confidence, a sense of achievement. I wrote about an informative study on rebranding exercise in Health Populi from my alma mater, The University of Michigan, in October 2011. The study found that feeling better “today” is much more motivating to an exerciser than the longer-term promise of “better health” and “lower cholesterol.” In tomorrow’s Health Populi, I’ll share with readers an important component of my daily exercise routine: music.