Are you resolving to lose weight this New Year? Sign at the dotted line, please!
Get your New Year started off on the right foot with a food contract.
For the big things in our lives, signing a contract pretty much seals the deal that we’re committed to do whatever it is that we said we were going to do, as we are legally bound to oblige. For smaller things in our lives, writing down your intentions, and creating quantifiable, attainable goals on a week-by-week basis is a proven method for accomplishing larger goals, like sustaining weight loss. This New Year here’s an idea: let’s merge the two for a sure-fire way to stick to our weight loss resolutions. Practice your John Hancock because this New Year, we’re going to be signing a food contract.
Inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s proven method in The Happiness Project, a food contract is a great way to help you carry out your weight loss goals, as it helps to hold you accountable for them. Small steps add up to big impact, and taking things one week at a time allows you to get really specific about what you need to change and where. Sound good? Sign here!
How to start? The contract requires you to set three goals per week, which makes success more attainable. Short-term goals, like choosing to swap an apple for a piece of cake, are easier to conquer than long-term goals, like a general “lose five pounds.” Be reasonable with your goals, too—if you’ve never been an early riser, don’t commit to 5 a.m. wake-ups.
Identifying barriers that might trip you up is a key part of a successful food contract—don’t leave a candy dish out the table if candies are your weakness. And if you’re swapping fruit for said candy? You’ll need have that in stock too, preferably washed and in a bowl so that it’s ready for you to eat. Another integral part of the agreement is a non-food reward, like a pair of jeans you’ve been eyeing or a new lip color that you’d like to try. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that having an incentive (in this case money) had a positive effect on subjects weight loss success – subjects that were in the incentive group lost 14 lbs, while subjects in the non-incentive group lost just 4 lbs. Even seven months after the study concluded, the incentive group weighed less then the non-incentive group. Bottom line? You get the jeans and look good in them—that’s a win-win that’s worth it!
After you’ve filled the contract out, leave multiple copies of it around to remind yourself of your commitment: seeing one on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, near your bed, on the background of your phone, and on your desk at work leaves little room for you to wiggle away from your intentions for the week. Increase your accountability and build a support structure for yourself by telling your friends and family about your contract too. Who knows, maybe you’ll influence and inspire them to join you too!