Among the various factors that help in losing weight such as physical workout, diet, age, metabolism rate, etc., one’s self-motivation to stick to a weight loss program plays an equally significant role in shedding those extra pounds, the study finds.
The study also points out that types and techniques of motivation could significantly determine the success or failure of a weight loss program.
Details of the study
To study the relationship between motivation and weight loss program, researchers at the University of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill carried out a study on 66 women in the age group of 22-65 years. The average body mass index (BMI) of these women ranged from 25-40.
For the study, it was assured that all these women had a computer and internet access at home.
The participants were given a “Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire” four times during the 16-week study. They were asked to describe their self-motivation for the weight loss program.
The participants’ responses together with their food intake, exercise, and body weight were monitored on a weekly basis.
The subjects were also given access to an online self-monitoring program through which they could monitor their own progress.
The researchers aimed to evaluate two types of motivation—autonomous and controlled.
Autonomous motivation is driven by personal reasons, whereas controlled motivation is based on pressurized feelings, mainly guilt, which come from others, to change oneself.
Self-motivation found to aid weight loss
Analysis revealed that dieters who were self-motivated and kept a journal of their daily diet were more likely to benefit from the weight loss program.
The researchers noted that 37 out of the 66 participants had lost five percent of their body weight during the course of the study.
These participants were better able to sustain their motivation levels throughout the study period especially during the fourth and the eighth week when the drive to diet starts diminishing.
Overall, it was found that participants who were motivated by personal reasons were found to be more successful in losing weight.
The researchers recommend that planning a realistic diet and exercise program is very vital to achieving successful results.
The findings also suggest that together with a realistic diet plan, sustained autonomous motivation best helps in staying committed to a weight loss program.
The study has been published in the May/June 2010 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.