Your Secret Weight-Loss Weapon

Staff - menshealth.com - 01/11/2012
Weight Loss Tips

Is the pen mightier than the treadmill? According to a new study in Psychological Science, writing down the things you value most—like religion, politics, music, and relationships—will help you lose more weight.

Researchers recruited 45 female undergrads with a BMI of 23 or above—about half of which were considered obese—to rank their personal values in order of importance. Half of the students were instructed to write for 15 minutes about their most important values, while the others were told to write how their lower-ranked values might be significant to someone else.

After four months, the students who wrote about their strongest beliefs lost an average of 3.41 pounds, while those who concentrated on others’ values gained an average of 2.76 pounds.

“We think the participants left our lab and felt a little better [after writing down their values], and maybe didn’t need to turn to junk food to get through the day. And the next day, they were in the habit of skipping that snack, so they skipped it again, and over time those calories added up,” says lead study author Christine Logel, Ph.D., an assistant psychology professor at Renison University College, University of Waterloo.

Though the study was conducted with only women, Logel says her findings could also apply to men. “But only if they are men who are motivated to lose weight,” she says. “We chose women simply because we knew that pretty much any woman with a BMI greater than 23 would wish she were thinner.”

Logel doesn’t know how the writing tactic might work against weight gain outside the laboratory, but in the meantime, she suggests “doing things that are consistent with your values,” like listening to music from a band you connect with, or playing your favorite sport. “Those things can help replace overeating as a quick way to find balance,” Logel says.

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