Weight loss, when done in a healthy way, takes time. Quick fixes can trim the waistline in the short-term, but finding lifestyle changes produce long-lasting results. This is true even if it takes a little while to master them, and a new study proves it. Researchers at Yale and Cornell University say celebrating the smaller victories along the long journey is the key to helping increase weight loss. They compare it to paying off debt. You put a little money in over time until you don’t owe any more!
In the study, 36,245 people use an app called Lose It! that tracks goals users set for daily activity and calories. The authors of the study found people were more inclined to follow daily calorie and exercise budgets when using the app. This suggests the smaller goals the app notes help to keep people on track. (Making your own meals puts you in charge of the calorie count, and here are the 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.)
“Even though there was no kind of punishment attached to going over the budget, people worked to follow it,” Kosuke Uetake, an associate professor of marketing at Yale and co-author of the study, says about the daily goals. “We saw this positive spillover where short-term success led to longer-term success.”
Uetake and Nathan Yang, the other co-author, describe static goals, or ones that don’t change, as less effective compared to adaptive goals that shift based on progress. Their data confirms it, too. Adaptive goals that celebrate the small victories show an increase in weight loss more than uniform goals. Like debt, the daily, weekly, and/or monthly wins soon add up to reaching bigger goals.
Hopping on fad diets that promise to help you lose weight in two weeks isn’t the best route to go. For more expert-approved ways to see a smaller number on the scale, here are the 25 best weight loss tips from doctors. And don’t forget to go over your goals with your own doctor!
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