Want to lose weight? Eating right will always help, and exercise is a great way to stay fit and boost metabolism, but what about dieting?
“Don’t eat this, don’t do that, don’t, don’t, don’t.” Diets are so restrictive and there is no balance between biology and psychology. Traci Mann, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota, suggests that tricking your body doesn’t work because you relapse when the diet is done. It sets you up for disappointment and failure.
So, what do you do? How do you shed pounds while treating your body correctly? Where is the link between biology and psychology?
Cornell Weighs In
New research from Cornell shows that one simple action can help a person lose weight and keep it off. What’s the action? Step on the scale and write down your results. The two-year study had researchers watching overweight individuals, tracking their progress every day, and reviewing results.
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They found that frequent self-weighing and tracking the results pays huge dividends in losing weight.
Prior studies showed that 40 percent of weight lost is regained in one year and almost 100 percent of weight loss is regained at the end of five years. Cornell researchers found that subjects who lost weight in the first year of the program were able to maintain that lost weight throughout the second year.
“You just need a bathroom scale and an excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper,” said Dr. David Levitsky, professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell and the paper’s senior author.
Biology Meets Psychology
The method is a constant reminder – an up-to-date weight update, that keeps your mind and body working together. It forces the connection between what you’re eating and how that directly impacts your weight.
Although weight fluctuates naturally from day-to-day and even differs depending on the time of day, this method saw results. You just need to be constant: choose a time of day at which to weigh yourself and always track results.
The study followed subjects who were given a target weight loss of one percent and told to lose the weight in any manner they chose. This was important because it wasn’t important the how they lost the weight, it was the constant weigh-in the researchers were concerned with.
“Because we didn’t prescribe, everyone found their own way of losing the weight,” whether it was reduced portion sizes, stopping snacking, or skipping meals, says Levitsky. One percent weight loss usually requires people to cut 150 calories a day for two weeks.
Once they achieved and maintained that weight loss for 10 days they were given a new target: another one percent. The goal was to lose a total of 10 percent of their starting body weight. The trick was stepping on a scale every day and tracking progress.
Weight One Second
So what’s the connection? Researchers think that stepping on a scale and tracking the changes acts as a reinforcement for those trying to lose weight. It makes some bad behaviors more evident, and reinforces good behaviors like eating less and going for a walk.
Having a constant reminder will certainly help push a thought into your brain, and stepping on the scale does just that. Levitsky adds, “We think the scale also acts as a priming mechanism, making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight.”
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