Texting for weight loss

Crossing the threshold from dreaming to doing is easier said than done. Running back Emmitt Smith phrased it well when he said, in his 2010 Hall of Fame speech, “It’s only a dream until you write it down. Then it becomes a goal.”

The point is accountability. Research shows that people who keep food and exercise diaries lose more weight than people who fumble through their weight loss efforts without specific direction or focus. The catch, of course, is actually following through: People often balk at jotting down each morsel of food and every workout. Interactive smartphone apps like My Fitness Pal try to make the process more user-friendly with graphs, easy-add options for meals, and a social networking aspect so the whole thing feels less lonely. But you still have to remember to log in every day, multiple times a day.

A new study shows that simply texting updates on progress may be more helpful than keeping traditional diaries. Folks who received text reminders and responded to these reminders with the number of steps they walked the previous day, the number of sugary drinks they consumed, and whether or not they ate fast food tended to lose more weight that people using more time-honored methods. The authors of the study think that replying to a text is easier, more streamlined way to track eating and exercise behaviors, and also allows for tailored feedback (if the person you’re texting is able to respond).

I’d totally like to try this out with clients who are trying to lose weight. Texting combines accountability with social support – it’s like having a personal coach or cheering section within reach at all times.

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