You CAN think yourself thin! Dieters lose up to 10 TIMES more weight by simply ‘imagining themselves as being slimmer’
- Dieters should imagine what weight loss would look, feel, smell and taste like
- Motivates dieters to stick to their plan, particularly those that lack willpower
- The technique – tested in a new study – is called functional imagery training
People can lose 10 times more weight by simply changing how they think, according to a study.
Researchers found simply imaging yourself as being slimmer can be enough to help dieters achieve their weight-loss goals.
Portsmouth University scientists found dieters using functional imagery training (FIT) lost 1st (14lbs) and 9cm from their waists after a year, on average.
In contrast, patients who tried ‘motivational interviews’ – being encouraged by a counsellor to shed fat – lost just 0.1 stone (1.4lbs) and 0.24cm from their waists.
All of the patients were on a diet or exercising regularly – two known factors that can boost weight loss efforts even further.
People can lose weight by changing how they think, a study has found (stock)
FIT involves people visualising what it would feel, smell, look and taste like to be thinner.
The researchers analysed 141 overweight volunteers; defined as having a BMI of at least 25.
Fifty nine of the participants received FIT, while the remaining 55 had ‘motivational interviews’ (MI).
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Speaking of FIT, lead author Dr Linda Solbrig said: ‘We started with taking people through an exercise about a lemon.
‘We asked them to imagine seeing it, touching it, juicing it, drinking the juice and juice accidentally squirting in their eye, to emphasise how emotional and tight to our physical sensations imagery is.
‘From there we are able to encourage them to fully imagine and embrace their own goals.
WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL IMAGERY TRAINING?
Functional Imagery Training (FIT) teaches people to imagine what it would be like to achieve their goals, whether it be weight loss or overcoming drug dependency.
By having people visualise what it would smell, look, feel and taste like to meet this ambition, they are thought to become more motivated to make it a reality.
Scientists believe telling somebody to simply eat healthier or stop smoking is usually ineffective because changing habits requires motivation.
Research has shown FIT reduces a dieter’s desire to snack and makes them more likely to use their gym membership.
FIT can be delivered through the help of a trained professional or via the app Goal In Mind.
The app asks users to put in a goal they wish to achieve.
They can then upload a picture to focus on while they try to achieve that ambition.
This could include a picture of themselves when they were slimmer.
Users are also told to imagine all the good things that will happen if they achieve their goals and how their lives will changes.
They are encouraged to think of when they will set aside time to achieve their goal – as well as who they will be with, what will be around them, and what they will hear, smell and taste.
Users are also told to imagine they are in a TV advert where they are the lead actor and are telling themselves how to achieve their goal.
As well as to remember previous times they achieved a goal and the sense of achievement it brought.
Source: University of Portsmouth
‘Not just “imagine how good it would be to lose weight” but, for example, “what would losing weight enable you to do that you can’t do now? What would that [look, sound, and smell] like?” and encourage them to use all of their senses.’
MI involved the participants being counseled on why they wanted to lose weight.
All of the participants had two sessions, the first of which was for an hour face-to-face and the second 45 minutes over the phone.
‘Booster calls’ lasting up to 15 minutes were provided every two weeks for three months, after which the calls were every four weeks until six months after the study started.
Weight and waist circumferences were measured at the start of the study, and six and 12 months on. After six months, those receiving FIT lost 0.6 stone (8.4lbs) and 7cm off their waists.
But the MI participants had still lost just 0.1 stone and even gained 0.24cm in their waist circumferences since the six-month mark.
All of the participants reported greater quality of life after six months, but the FIT group more so.
The results were published in the International Journal of Obesity.
‘Most people agree that in order to lose weight, you need to eat less and exercise more, but in many cases, people simply aren’t motivated enough to heed this advice – however much they might agree with it,’ Dr Solbrig said.
‘So FIT comes in with the key aim of encouraging someone to come up with their own imagery of what change might look and feel like to them, how it might be achieved and kept up, even when challenges arise.
‘It’s fantastic that people lost significantly more weight on this intervention, as, unlike most studies, it provided no diet/physical activity advice or education.
‘People were completely free in their choices and supported in what they wanted to do, not what a regimen prescribed.’
FIT is thought to be more effective than MI due to it stimulating many different senses.
This allows dieters to visualise what weight loss would be like, which may motivate them to achieve their goal.
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