A new research has found that imagining the benefits of weight loss can help you shed fat faster.
According to the study, overweight people lost an average of five times more weight using functional imagery training (FIT), “a brief individual motivational intervention that teaches self-motivating skills using mental imagery”.
The research involved 141 participants, who were allocated either to FIT or motivational interviewing (MI), a technique that sees a counsellor support someone to develop, highlight and verbalise their need or motivation for change, and their reasons for wanting to change.
FIT goes one step further than MI, to use multisensory imagery to explore these changes by teaching clients how to elicit and practice motivational imagery themselves.
The study showed that after six months, participants who used the FIT intervention lost an average of 4.11kg, compared with an average of 0.74kg among the MI group.
“It’s fantastic that people lost significantly more weight on this intervention, as, unlike most studies, it provided no diet/physical activity advice or education. People were completely free in their choices and supported in what they wanted to do, not what a regimen prescribed,” said Linda Solbrig, lead researcher.
“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.
“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.
“We started with taking people through an exercise about a lemon. We asked them to imagine seeing it, touching it, juicing it, drinking the juice and juice accidently squirting in their eye, to emphasise how emotional and tight to our physical sensations imagery is.
“From there we are 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/smell like?’, and encourage them to use all of their senses.”
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Plymouth and Queensland University.