Have you ever tried using visualizations to meet your weight loss goals?
In my Research Methods counseling class this week, we presented our research topics for the semester. One of my class friends researched the effect of positive performance visualizations for athletes. Surprisingly in a study where1 group practiced their foul shots and one group visualized making foul shots over a span of 30 days, the results were very close. The group that practiced saw 23% improvement and the visualization group saw 22% improvement.
5 minutes of visualization = 7 hours of practice
So of course, this has limitations. You can't just visualize running at home for a month, and then run a 25mile race at the end of the month without passing out on mile 5 if you've never run before. BUT this seems to work if you've already had some type of experience in something. Hence, the study being done with athletes who have some level of experience in their sport.
How can this apply to the everyday person trying to lose a few lbs? I will use myself as an example. Have you ever worked out and mentally beat yourself up throughout the workout? "Gosh, that girl on treadmill #5 looks so much better. All I can see is my fat giggling in the mirror. Why do I even try to workout when I am never going to lose the weight anyways?" That has definitely been the dialog in my mind some days. So why don't we pump ourselves up before a workout instead? Visualizations can be done through imagining success complete with images or an inspiration board or even just trying to imagine the feeling of success (ie. how accomplished you feel when you complete a ball-busting workout). The point of the study is that through mental visualizations, our bodies and minds can be trained to perform the skill imagined. And please don't even try to argue that you have no experience! All of those years of yo-yo dieting and exercising like a mad-woman for 3 weeks and then going back to Cheetos counts! We all have that inner exercise warrior within us.
I have always dreamt of becoming one of those people who can just run for 20minutes a day to stay fit. I get myself all pumped up to get onto the treadmill at the gym, and then 1minute in, when I feel the burn in my chest and the ache in my knees, I begin to berate myself for being so stupid to think I could actually run. This overall fear of running dates back to high school when I literally faked a fall during the mandatory 1 mile run that I always finished last in. Sad, I know. Give me almost any other form of cardio, and I can deal. I can even complete 20 minutes on the dreaded stairclimber! One of my goals in 2012, is to conquer this fear of running. I will probably put together a vision board to help myself with this goal and the rest of my health/fitness goals for 2012. (Click here for a great post on how to create your own vision board.)
I've used visualization for school work and many other activities in my life, so why haven't I tried it with weight loss? Not too sure, but I am sure going to work on it.