10 Science-Backed Mental Hacks to Lose More Weight

10 Science-Backed Mental Hacks to Lose More Weight

Dare we ask how your New Year’s resolutions have been going? If you’re starting to fall off the treadmill track, it might be time to call in some reinforcement.

For every study out there that says you’ll give up on your healthy-living goals by February, we’ve got a comeback. That’s because you can also use science to give yourself a little kick in the butt.

These 10 science-backed ways will hoist you up by your sports bra straps (or tank top) and snap you right back into your routine. And once you reach your goal, employ these 25 Ways To Reward Your Weight Loss!!


Stop Obsessing Over Skinny Models

woman by pool reading magazine

If you’ve taped a photo of a thin model in your pantry to stop yourself from grabbing a cookie or you’re obsessed with before-and-after photos, you could be sabotaging your own weight-loss goals. Women who were given weight loss diaries with a skinny model on the front and every page didn’t lose weight; in some cases, they actually gained pounds, according to a December 2012 study published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing. Meanwhile, the women who had neutral images on their journals and didn’t see the skinny model photos lost weight. If you journal (and weight loss experts say you should!), don’t miss these 10 Tips for Keeping a Food Journal for Weight Loss.


Put Your Money on it

piggy bank

If you want to a sure way to lose weight, bet on it. A 2013 study from the Mayo Clinic hints that money can be a motivator for weight loss. Participants in a weight loss group who had financial incentives—such as cash rewards for hitting targets and having to pay into a pot of money if you miss the mark—were more likely to lose weight than those who were only provided with weight loss education and behavior modification programs. Those in the money groups dropped an average of 9.08 pounds whereas their peers lost 2.34 pounds.


Get a Workout Buddy

female friends at gym

Find yourself a swole-mate! A study from the University of Pennsylvania that tracked 217 graduate students enrolled in free exercise classes at the campus gym revealed the power of having a pal. What happened: Part of the group received motivational videos and infographics with fitness tips. The other group was placed in social networks and gave each other updates on fitness achievements. At the end of the 13-week study, researchers found that the promotional messages gave a little bump in gym attendance, but the motivation didn’t stick. The more social group? They went to the gym more! Not into the gym anyway? Don’t miss these 31 Sneaky Ways to Work Out—Without Hitting the Gym.


Lay off the Pot

smoking pot

Puff, puff, pass…on the pot. A July 2013 study from Imperial College London found that long-term marijuana users tend to produce less dopamine, which is the chemical in the brain that’s linked to motivation. The good news: The study authors think the effects seen in this study are reversible if you stop smoking blunts and eating pot brownies.


And Quit Smoking Cigarettes, Too

quit smoking

Your lungs and brain are teaming up with this “quit smoking” message. A February 2013 study published in Respirology found that not only are smokers less active, but they become lazier in that they then lack the internal motivation to change. Worried that you’ll eat more once you stop smoking? Learn about these 17 Reasons You’re Overeating (And How to Stop!) and you’ll be healthier, thinner, and happier in no time!


Hang Out with Other People Losing Weight

friends having coffee

Losing weight can be socially contagious. At least that’s what a February 2012 study published in the journal Obesity found when it looked at team-based weight loss competitions. Participants who lost at least five percent of their initial body weight tended to be clustered on the same teams. The researchers concluded that being surrounded by others with similar goals can be a boon for weight loss efforts. Bonus tip: If you’re in a real-life Biggest Loser group, sign up to be the team captain because they lost the most weight in this study.

DON’T MISS: 21 Fitness and Diet Experts Reveal Their 2017 Resolutions!


Don’t Rely on Your Fitness Tracker

fitness man looking at watch

If you’re relying on your fitness tracker to be your accountability partner, you might be missing the mark. A September 2016 study from the University of Pittsburgh found that activity monitors aren’t reliable tools to aid weight loss. After two years, researchers found that participants who wore the trackers and participated in a behavioral weight-loss program lost less weight than those who were simply involved in the behavioral weight loss program. Those with trackers lost an average of 7.7 pounds, while those who just received the health counseling reported an average loss of 13 pounds.


Chant These Words

pushup exercise girl workout

Giving yourself a pep talk could help you run faster on the treadmill or master that advance pose on the yoga mat. But there’s a specific phrase you’ve got to use to motivate yourself, according to a March 2016 study published in Frontiers of Psychology. Those magic words that up your chances at success? “I can do better.” Now that you know the four magic words, here are 33 Tips for Total Confidence to really amp up your A-game.


Don’t Make it About the Scale

women dancing workout

Here’s another motivational mind trick to play on yourself. Don’t let the scale be your motivator. Instead, a December 2013 study from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business says that if you want to lose weight, you’re better off simply enjoying your workout. By focusing on the activity and the pleasure you get from it—whether that’s a super fun dance class or spin cycle sweat sesh—you can maintain your motivation.


Identify as a ‘healthy Eater’

eating salad with carrots

How’s this for easy? Call yourself a “healthy eater.” That’s it. According to a January 2016 study in the journal Self & Identity, individuals who identify with a particular role start to take on the traits. Think of it this way: “You eat what you are.” For more motivational hacks, don’t miss these 40 Tips for Motivation That Actually Work!

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