Can the pen be mightier than the…treadmill? A provocative new study suggests the answer may be: Yes.
Researchers writing in the journal Psychological Science found that women who spent time writing about what they valued the most in a journal -- such as relationships, religion, or music – tended to lose more weight than woman who didn’t write things down.
But the reasons are more complicated than they might seem, according to researchers at University of Waterloo and Stanford University who conducted the study.
The weight loss may be due to increased self-affirmation or self-esteem the women may feel that comes from writing about their values, the researchers concluded. Writing things down may also strengthen a person’s resolve to, say, give up foods that are bad for you.
To reach their conclusions, researchers tracked 45 female college students, 58 percent of whom were obese. All of the woman were weighed, and then asked to write down a list of their most important values.
They all ranked their personal values. Half of the group was told to write for 15 minutes about the values most important to them. The other half of women were instructed to write about why one of their least important values would be important to another person.
Women who wrote about their most important values for 15 minutes lost an average of 3.4 pounds over the next few months. Women who wrote about something less important gained an average of 2.8 pounds.