Putting it down on paper can help lose to weight

January 6th, 2012 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Jan 6 (IANS) Writing your most important values on a piece of paper can literally knock you into shape as it might make you feel better and obliterate the need to eat to do the same.

“We have this need to feel self-integrity,” says Christine Logel of Renison University College, University of Waterloo.

Logel co-wrote the study with Geoffrey L. Cohen of Stanford University. Researchers recruited 45 female undergraduates with body mass index (BMI) of 23 or higher. A body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight; 58 percent of the women were overweight or obese, the journal Psychological Science reports.

Then, half the women were told to write for 15 minutes about the value that was most important to them. The other half, a control group, was told to write why a value far down on their list might be important to someone else, according to a Waterloo statement.

The women came back one-to-four months later to be weighed again. Women who had written about an important value lost an average of 3.41 pounds while women in the control group gained an average of 2.76 pounds, a pattern of weight gain that is typical for undergraduates.

“How we feel about ourselves can have a big effect,” Logel says. “We think it sort of kicks off a recursive process.”

Maybe when one of the participants who wrote about an important value went home that night, she felt good about herself and didn’t eat to make herself feel better, he said.

Then, the next day snacking wasn’t as much of a habit, so she skipped it. Over a few months, that could make a real difference in her life. Many studies have found that even briefly thinking about values can have a big effect on situations where people feel a threat to their integrity, he added.

For example, Cohen used the same technique on minority seventh-graders who were underperforming relative to their white peers. Those who did the exercise were still performing better years later.

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