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U.S. study finds obese people more motivated to shed pounds if they’re paid

12/02/2011
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I stumbled across this story (click here for the story).  Basically, people were paid money if they managed to lose bodyweight.  And they were more successful than another group of people who were not paid money.

But, when they were measured again 9 months later, they had regained most of the weight.

This is a very common thing for people and can turn into “yo-yo dieting”.  This is where you lose weight, regain it (and usually a bit more), then lose it again, then regain it (and usually a bit more), and so on for ever.

There are many reasons for yo-yo dieting, but in my opinion, a big one is that:

People focus on the wrong thing.

In this study, the people focused on “getting the money”.  So as soon as the study was over, and there was no more money to be earned, their focus disappeared and they fell back into their previous ways.

In many other cases, people “go on” a diet for a short, predefined time period.  This is often limited by an event of some kind, such as:

  • A wedding.
  • A reunion.
  • A holiday.
  • An arbitrary number on the scales.

And as soon as this time period is up, their point of focus is gone, so they go back to their old bad habits and they pile the pounds back on.

A much more successful way of losing weight, and keeping it off, is to simply focus on a different target.  Instead of focusing exclusively on “losing weight”, focus on:

Changing your habits and behaviours.

Change them gradually, steadily and permanently.

Some examples of good things to focus on include:

  • Cutting out processed foods for 6 days out of 7.
  • Doing at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day (moderate activity can be classed as something that gets you comfortably out of breath, eg walking, cycling, gentle swimming etc).
  • Gradually increasing your periods of vigorous exercise to 3 or more times a week (I class vigorous exercise as something that works you significantly harder than your background activity, such as sports, exercise classes etc).
  • Include a mixture of colourful vegetables in every main meal of every day (no matter who you are, and no matter how much veg you are currently eating, it is very safe to assume it is not enough.  So stop pretending I don’t mean you…because I do mean you…Yes, YOU!).

So by focussing on some of these more open-ended habits and behaviours, you will end up healthier, fitter, at a better bodyweight and you are much more likely to maintain that weight.

This is because once we are in a certain habit, it is much easier to stay in that habit.

And for all you parents out there, you are much more likely to pass these habits and behaviours onto your kids.  That means that they are much less likely to join the ranks of overweight/obese children here in the UK.

For more information on changing your habits and behaviours, click here.

For more example of good eating habits we should all try to get into to help us live fitter, healthier lives, click here.

And as always, if you like this, or know anyone who might like it, please use the “share” buttons to pass it on (you know how rubbish I am at spreading the word!)

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