by Markham Heid
Go big or go home. Setting the bar high when it comes to weight loss could help you drop more pounds, finds surprising research in the Journal of Health Psychology.
A Dutch survey of overweight and obese dieters found people who aimed to lose more than 10 percent of their total body weight shed more pounds than those who targeted a 5- to 10-percent drop. Also—contrary to some popular weight-loss beliefs—dieters who set more-ambitious goals were no more likely to feel discouraged by their results than people who chose modest targets, the study shows.
While trying to lose weight, you’re probably pursuing other important life goals like earning a promotion at work, making time for friends, or being a better parent or partner, says study coauthor Emely de Vet, Ph.D., of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. If you set a timid weight-loss goal, you’re telling yourself you don’t need to work very hard to be successful, and so you’re less likely to divert resources like time and energy away from those other activities, de Vet says.
But when you aim high, you signal to yourself that more effort will be needed to reach your goals, and so you’re more likely to focus time and energy on losing weight, she adds.