As anyone who has ever tried trading TimTams for the gym can attest (*raises hand*) getting in shape requires a huge amount of effort (and/or serious willpower.)
But according to a new study, there’s a foolproof way to drop a few dress sizes without lifting a finger: visualise your goal weight.
In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, scientists from the University of Plymouth recruited 141 volunteers with body mass indexes of at least 25.
55 of them were asked to try two sessions of motivational interviewing therapy (aka, MI) in which they received counselling about what had inspired them to make a change (whether that be shedding excess fat or simply wanting to be healthier.)
Meanwhile, 59 participants underwent two sessions of functional imagery training (FIT) – a coaching method that teaches you how to visualise you reaching your goal weight and all the benefits that come hand-in-hand with this (for example: trying an activity you couldn’t at your current weight.)
Both groups received follow-ups every couple of weeks for three months and then monthly for another three months.
The scientists found that those who underwent FIT lost 5 times more weight on average than those who had MI (4.11kg compared to just 0.74kg over the six-month period.) In addition, the FIT group lost 4.3cm more around their waists than the MI group.
“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,” explained the study’s lead author, Dr Linda Solbrig.
“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.”
So, what is it that makes FIT so effective, you ask?! Dr Solbrig reckons it’s the multi-sensory factor. In short, when you consider exactly how things look, feel, taste and smell post weight loss, you’re better able to make it a reality.
“We started with taking people through an exercise about a lemon,” she explained. “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 were able to encourage them to fully imagine and embrace their own goals. 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.”
The power of the mind, eh!?