Weight Loss Rewards: Can Winning Money Help You Lose Weight?
SUMMARY: New research indicates that external rewards – like weight loss contests – can improve intrinsic motivation and lead to greater success. But not all rewards are created equal. Here’s how to choose the best ones and put them to work for you.
What if there was a technique that actually worked to help you lose weight?
Consider that proposal for a second, and then think back to all the false promises, empty hopes, and frustrated experiences with different diets or personal trainers.
Now hold on to that frustration, take a deep breath, and realize that your weight loss goals are not a lost cause.
Research has discovered that if you really want to drop pounds, there's a simple trick that can shift your mindset, improve your motivation, and keep you moving towards your goals.
Sure, it’d be great if that trick helped us crave carrots over cookies and made sure we always wanted to go to the gym. But, here’s the truth. Being fit isn't a natural instinct for most of us. In fact, it's totally normal to have unhealthy desires.
Pair those desires with a busy lifestyle, one where there never seems to be enough time with all the work, family and friend pressures, and it's easy to see how fitness can fall by the wayside.
But here’s the good – no, great – news. New models of change psychology--the study of how people actually improve their behaviors--have found a way to create a weight loss plan that can work for anyone. Even the busiest of folks.
The results point to a new science of incentivized weight loss, and step-by-step approach that keeps you motivated and inspired, and puts you on the fast track to a better body.
THE MATHEMATICS OF WEIGHT LOSS
Here's what you need to know before you start any program: Lots of different diet and fitness strategies work. So you don't need to find a silver bullet; what you need are proven strategies that work within your lifestyle.
That's why your health depends on learning behaviors that you can master.
You see, improving the way you look is no different than learning math. You need to start with the basics (like addition and subtraction), and then only when those problems become easy to solve do you move on to multiplication, division, and algebra.
Oddly enough, learning better eating habits is the same, you have to build up these habits over time. Yet most plans take you straight from basic math to complex calculus. It's no surprise that many people fail the health test.
The right approach is one that makes the process easy – almost too easy – so that you can't fail. And as you learn to master one good behavior after another, you'll drop pounds without even realizing it.
That's the real secret to creating a successful weight loss program, and it's the backbone of the most advanced and scientifically proven weight loss systems in the world.
But that part is the easier half of the equation.
BIG INCENTIVES AND BIG RESULTS
As anyone that's ever tried to diet knows, the harder aspect is staying on track; feeling motivated to become the person you want to be--and not falling off the wagon and never finding your way back.
That's where incentivized plans come into play, and it's one of the backbones of the new wave of weight loss success.
In general, there are two types of motivation: internal and external.
Internal motivators are ideal; they are aspects like caring about your health so you can live longer or taking care of your loved ones. External motivators are a reward-based, where you receive something in return for your behavior.
While internal motivators are more powerful and lead to more sustainable changes, research has shown that external motivators usually have to come first. And that they can easily trigger internal motivation.
In other words, you can use external motivation (a reward) to jumpstart your internal motivation.
In terms of fitness, health care surveys have found that 59% of people admit they'd be more willing to consistently prioritize their health and exercise if they were rewarded.
So scientists from California put this theory to the test. They wanted to determine if the reward theory for weight loss would lead to increased success. So they worked with more than 400 overweight individuals and designed a reward-based program.
After 24 months, they assessed weight loss comparing those that were motivated by a potential reward and those that just had to follow a program. The people that were offered money lost more than four times the weight of those in the non-incentivized condition.
Most interestingly, they keep the weight off because, as researchers noted, their internal motivation became greater after starting the program.
WHICH INCENTIVES WILL YOU CHOOSE?
One of the biggest problems with weight loss is that it's hard to see the benefits. Sure, you'll notice the changes in the mirror. But the reason to drop pounds goes far beyond your reflection and looking better in clothes.
You'll have more energy, you'll feel better, you'll spend less on health care, you'll live longer, and you'll have a different impact on your friends and family.
These are intangible benefits that are harder to recognize, which is why incentives are such a powerful way to stay on track when you forget about the benefits that are harder to see.
If you want to build your own model to help you stay health, you can follow the lead of scientists at Carnegie Mellon. They had participants in a weight loss program contribute money every day to an account.
At the end of each week if they met their goals, they not only received their money back--it was also doubled. If they didn't meet their goals, they lost all the money they deposited.
This model lead to an eight-fold increase in weight loss compared to those that had no monetary penalty or reward.
While you can't take away your own money, you can create an account where you pay money each month, and if you don't meet your fitness goals then you can donate that money to charity.
While that isn't a negative consequence (you are helping others, after all), it's still money that you're losing. Or you can make see if a friend is willing to make a bet and contribute to your weight loss efforts.
There's one big catch: The researchers found that this "punishment" model--where you could lose money--wasn't as sustainable as other research where people were simply rewarded instead.
Which is why I'll offer another option with proven success: Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating Challenge.
This year we're offering more than $100,000 in prizes to those that join Lean Eating and transform their bodies and lives. And that’s quite a big incentive.
But what you do isn’t as important as you doing something, anything, in the service of your goals. Remember, if you want to get in great shape this year, be sure to harness the power of small changes coupled with big incentives.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
If you’d like to learn more about losing fat and feeling better, here's something you need to see. We've created two free 5-day video courses that show you how to get control of your eating and your health.
To get started, simply click one of the links below:
In these free courses you'll discover:
-The 5 things you need to know about nutrition.
-Exactly what foods to eat to lose fat — at every meal.
-The best way to exercise to lose fat.
-Exactly how much time you need to exercise.
-How to make delicious meals with a few simple ingredients.
-Why you don’t need supplements to lose fat.
-Which four supplements work the best, if you choose to use them.
-The one thing that separates those who lose fat and those who fail every time.
Until next time,
- John Berardi
Dr John Berardi is the director of the world’s largest body transformation project. In the last 5 years, his team has helped over 15,000 clients lose more than 250,000 pounds of body fat. (That’s more total weight loss than all 13 seasons of the Biggest Loser combined). For more on his one-of-a-kind program – Lean Eating Coaching – click here.