Those with weight problems will be extremely interested in a study conducted in England and published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, saying that writing your thoughts in a journal can actually help you to lose weight!
Relaying personal values, hopes and dreams into a journal sends “feel good” chemicals throughout your body that can have positive effects, such as weight loss and improved memory. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking on your mental and emotional health and your memory improvement program. Positive emotional arousal improves memory, and leads to better self-esteem and a happier person.
The human brain produces approximately 50,000 thoughts a day, but sadly the majority of them are negative. The way an individual thinks has a big impact on memory. Since the brain is not equipped to handle negativity and does not retain negative thoughts, a positive attitude is important. When you have a positive attitude, you will not only improve your memory but your attitude in all areas of your life — including weight.
In a new study (December 2011) reported on-line in the journal Psychological Science, women who jotted down their most important values, close relationships, and passions lost more weight over the next few months than women who did not have that experience.
“We have this need to feel self-integrity,” says researcher of the study Christine Logel of Renison University College at the University of Waterloo. Logel co-authored the study along 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 says.
Forty-five female undergraduate students with a body mass index of 23 or higher were recruited for the study. A normal body mass index is 18.5 to 24.9; 58% of the women in this study were overweight to obese. Each student was weighed and then given a list of important values, such as relationships, creativity, politics, music, and friends and family. They were asked to rank the values in order of importance to her. Half of them were told to write for 15 minutes about her most important value. The other half of the original group served as the control group, and was told to write about something on their list that would be important to someone else, and not themselves.
Around four months later the women returned to be weighed again. Those who had written about an important value in their life lost an average of 3.41 pounds, while women in the control group gained an average of 2.76 pounds, typical weight gain for undergraduates.
“How we feel about ourselves can have a big effect,” Logel says. “We think it sort of kicks off a recursive process.” Perhaps it showed that when the women who wrote about an important value felt good about herself and went home that night and didn’t feel the need to overeat. Over the course of the next few months her self-esteem was high enough that she didn’t feel the need to binge eat or eat to feel better, and this resulted in a weight loss.
The women in the study were not told that writing down values was supposed to help them live better lives (although they should have been curious when a psychology study had them weigh in). There have been other studies that have shown that good, solid values and a passion for something in life can have a positive effect on a person’s outlook. As an example, Cohen tried the same technique on minority seventh-grade student who were under-performing against those of their white counterparts. Those who did the positive values exercise continued to perform better years later. It’s too soon to say whether this could work for everybody.
“My dream, and my research goal, is to get this to the point where people can do it deliberately to benefit themselves,” Logel says. In the meantime, she carries around a key chain that reminds her of a value that she considers to be important. “There’s certainly no harm in taking time to reflect on important values and working activities you value into your daily life,” she says.
A positive outlook has been proven to build self-esteem. By looking at what you hold dear in your life — your own personal value system, you will improve your life and build a confident person — with a great memory.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life. His CDs and memory products are also available online at BrainAthlete.com.
Science Daily – Exercise Is Good for Your Waistline — But It’s a Writing Exercise: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120104134811.htm
Memory Improvement Tools.com — Using the Power of Positive Thinking To Enhance Your Memory Improvement Program: http://www.memory-improvement-tools.com/power-of-positive-thinking.html
Association for Psychological Science — A Simple Weight Loss Strategy. Really. Maybe.: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/were-only-human/a-simple-weight-loss-strategy-really-maybe.html