There are not too many things that feel as good as making real progress. The simple act of checking something off of your to-do list creates real changes in brain physiology that make the practice downright addictive. This dopamine release in response to task completion has been called the “jackpot” effect. Our brains feel really good when we achieve. This feel good effect can be such a positive influence it just makes sense to “chunk” larger goals into smaller tasks so that small wins lead to eventual victory. Heck, the fact that I have completed one paragraph of this post has changed the way I feel about the task!
Now, we know from medical research that we should apply a similar approach to weight loss. Researchers have determined that a relatively “small win” has huge health implications.
To measure the impact of losing tiered percentages of body weight, a team at Washington University’s Centre for Human Nutrition, randomly assigned 40 obese individuals different weight loss goals. Half of the participants were instructed to maintain their body weight, while the other half were asked to lose 5, 10, or 15 percent of it.
The findings indicated that hitting the smaller target, of 5%, provided significant improvements to metabolic health. The director of the center, Samuel Klein, said, "Our findings demonstrate that you get the biggest bang for your buck with 5 percent weight loss."
The most notable metabolic benefits were the improved functioning of the participants’ insulin-secreting beta cells, and increased insulin sensitivity in fat, liver, and skeletal muscle tissue. These effects are important for the lowering of risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease and as noted, the greatest impact came from the first 5% of weight lost.
"If you weigh 200 pounds [90 kilograms], you will be doing yourself a favor if you can lose 10 pounds and keep it off," said Klein. "You don’t have to lose 50 pounds to get important health benefits."
At The Exercise Coach, we regularly see results like this from 30 days of focused whole-food eating and just one or two health-oriented strength training sessions per week. Adding strength training to healthy eating and weight loss amplifies our clients' results because it sends a signal to the body that muscle should be preserved rather than sacrificed during periods of weight loss. This means that all the weight our clients lose comes from the right place, fat tissue.
We have helped thousands of people across the country look better, feel better, and achieve important metabolic health benefits through what we call The Metabolic Comeback. Right now we are running our first Metabolic Comeback Challenge across the country. We anticipate many people getting stronger, improving their endurance, and losing the valuable first 5% of weight they want to lose.
There is still time to participate at The Exercise Coach studio near you. Visit exercisecoach.com/comeback for more information.
Be encouraged, a small win that can be had in as little as thirty days could dramatically enhance your health, put your metabolic trajectory on track for total body transformation, and make you feel like a million bucks. Do yourself a favor, give us a call, and check it off your list today!