Now, writing exercise shrinks waistline

Writing down something most important to you for just 15-minutes may help shed your extra kilos in few months, if a new study is to be believed.

The new study has found that women who wrote about their most important values, like close relationships, music, or religion, lost more weight over the next few months than women who did not have that experience.

"We have this need to feel self-integrity," said Christine Logel of Renison University College at the University of Waterloo, who co-author the new study with Geoffrey L. Cohen of Stanford University.

When something threatens your sense that you're a good person, like failing a test or having a fight with a friend, "We can buffer that self-integrity by reminding ourselves how much we love our children, for example," she explained.

For this study, the researchers recruited 45 female undergraduates who had a body mass index of 23 or higher. A body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight; 58 percent of the women were overweight or obese.

Then half the women were told to write for 15 minutes about the value that was most important to her. The other half, a control group, were told to write about why a value far down on their list might be important to someone else.

The women came back between one and four months later to be weighed again. Women who had written about an important value lost an average of 3.41 pounds, while women in the control group gained an average of 2.76 pounds, a pattern of weight gain that is typical for undergraduates.

"How we feel about ourselves can have a big effect. We think it sort of kicks off a recursive process," Logel stated.

Maybe when one of the women who wrote about an important value went home that night, she felt good about herself and didn't eat to make herself feel better.

Then the next day snacking wasn't as much of a habit, so she skipped it. Over a few months, that could make a real difference in her life.

It's too soon to say whether this could work for everybody; the women in the study didn't know that writing about values was supposed to help them live better.

"My dream, and my research goal, is to get this to the point where people can do it deliberately to benefit themselves," Logel added.

The finding was published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

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