The first three weeks determine how successful a diet will be for a person, new research suggests.
What’s more, what a person does before committing to a diet or lifestyle change can positively affect their success rate even further.
The findings come from Australia’s CSIRO, as it launches an interactive program to guide users through its 12-week total wellbeing diet program.
Analysing the results and behaviour of 22,000-plus program members showed the ones who were able to lose one kilogram or more per week for the first three weeks, lost weight up to three and a half times more than those who had a more sluggish start to the program.
That is, the stronger you start, the stronger you finish, CSIRO lead research scientist Gilly Hendrie said.
Seeing strong results taps into a person’s motivation to keep going, Dr Hendrie told The New Daily.
The other factor Dr Hendrie and the team saw influence a successful lifestyle change was preparation.
Two days to get a meal plan worked out, a pantry and fridge prepared, and a mindset firmly in place contributed to a person’s success, she said.
“Seeing the scales change is very reinforcing in itself. So if you can prepare yourself and follow (a program) from the start, you’re giving yourself the best chance to succeed,” Dr Hendrie said.
Yup. The 19 in Covid-19, stands for how many kilos we have all put on during #lockdownMelbourne
— Aunty Rathdowne Possum (@Rathdownepossum) August 30, 2020
“Once you start seeing the scales going down, it just motivates you to stick on the program.”
Healthy mind, healthy body
Humans respond well to stimuli like data, Dr Hendrie said, which is why seeing the results of our action works so well as a motivator.
Whether it’s the numbers on the scales, the size of your waist or even the number of steps on the pedometer – seeing progress helps people stay on track.
In a year that has gone beyond turmoil, people are starting to look for some structure and control in their lives again, Dr Hendrie said.
Healthy eating has taken a back seat this year, she said – and understandably so – but familiarising people with structure can be a way to adopt lifestyle changes more easily.
As well as meal prep, it’s things like writing down meal plans, weighing yourself twice a week – actions that promote accountability.
Last month we met Melbourne man Rohit, who’s posting daily affirmations on TikTok in his quest to give up fizzy drinks.
Not everyone has to be that dedicated, but any level of accountability – whether it’s to your friends, partner or yourself – can help with motivation, Dr Hendrie said.
The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet on Tuesday launches its ‘start strong’ guide, which is scientifically influenced by this study’s findings to support users to get the most out of the program.