If you’ve noticed your Facebook friends participating in online weight loss challenges, you might wonder how these programs work. More importantly, would they work for you?
Each program is a bit different, but they all utilize these basic factors – much of which are based in psychology.
Accountability. Most of us are more likely to stick to goals that we have publicly declared. Plus, simply defining a goal in clear terms, like “I will lose twenty pounds by July 31” is always better than a vague goal like, “I want to lose some weight”. These programs usually encourage you to aim for a very specific target.
Incentives. Sometimes it can be difficult to work toward a more abstract goal, like “better health”. Most of these online weight loss challenges provide some sort of incentive, such as an award or even cash prize. It can be easier to work toward a more concrete goal.
The social component. For those who are more extroverted, the feeling of teamwork and a common goal is highly motivating. Plus, emotional support is helpful for anyone pursuing a goal. With many of us lacking adequate support in our real lives, the community provided by these online weight loss challenges is designed to fill that gap.
So will one of these challenge programs work for you? It all depends upon your personality and how you are motivated. But if the above factors ring a bell, then an online weight loss challenge can be a good way to motivate yourself. But remember: Setting a goal, and making a plan to reach that goal, are two very different things.
Use whatever program that appeals to you, as far as motivation and support go, but keep in mind that a medically sound, safe eating plan should be the foundation of your overall weight loss program. And of course, we should screen you for underlying conditions that can contribute to weight gain, or make exercise dangerous for you. Once you’ve received the all-clear, you’ll be set to safely and effectively pursue your goals. And yes, that can include an online weight loss challenge.