Make your resolutions known to others

Formalising weight-loss commitments can boost success.

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When you make a statement, you become more specific. Instead of using vague formulations, you express yourself clearly. Committing yourself to something means it becomes verifiable and at the same time removes the option to back out later. In a recent study, medical researchers from the University of Manchester in the UK came to the conclusion that a commitment to slimming programmes can help increase the amount of weight lost or achieve weight-loss goals. Informing others about such commitments ought therefore be particularly effective when it comes to losing weight.

Admittedly, this sounds very much like some kind of legal agreement and may therefore be a deterrent. But hasn't experience already taught many of us how helpful it can be to inform others, such as the family, about a resolution because it then becomes more difficult not to adhere to it? After all, you don't want to lose face and possibly be seen as being weak.

The expectations you create when you announce your intentions can thus put you under some pressure, but this can also have an extremely strong disciplining effect. For example, by announcing that you intend to restrict your calorie intake could help you protect yourself against all too unrestrained feasting even during the Christmas period. It can also be very beneficial if you “publish” your New Year’s resolutions because it is then not so easy to succumb to temptation and secretly bid farewell to your good intentions.

Compliance leads to greater weight loss

The researchers at the University of Manchester based their conclusions on the analysis of numerous studies, from several databases, into the success of making commitments to slimming known to others. In the end, out of a total of 2,675 studies, they selected ten for final evaluation. The data from three randomised trials with 409 participants, in which the test persons had been randomly distributed among different groups, showed that those who had made formal commitments to losing weight lost an average of 1.5 kg more than their fellow participants who had not made such a commitment. In two of these studies, involving 302 participants, the scientists were also able to establish in the course of lengthy observations that the weight loss of those who had committed to losing weight was still evident even a year later: specifically, on average the test persons who had made a formal commitment lost 1.7 kg more than those who had not made such a commitment of compliance.

Based on their analyses, the scientists involved concluded that those who are willing to lose weight can do themselves a favour by informing others about their dieting goals. In the case of slimming or intervention programmes involving changes in lifestyle, this might therefore include complete contractually agreed rules of conduct. Commitments can be expected to be particularly productive if they formulate targets for weight loss rather than for exercising.

At Christmas, this could mean informing family and friends explicitly that you want to take care not to gain weight. When you are sitting down to a meal with them, for example, they should restrain from encouraging you to eat more than the amount you want to eat. And it will also mean that if you want to replace a meal with an Almased drink occasionally, to compensate for the calorie-laden festive meals and do something good for your personal well-being, you will not have to justify it. This, too, can be a positive aspect of self-commitment if those around you are made more aware of it.

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