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Nutrition and You!

Reward Your Weight Loss Progress With Another Good Habit: Reading

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I bumped into a colleague, Deb, at work the other morning and did a double take. I couldn’t believe how different she looked. After a brief chat, she proudly exclaimed that she was on the “Kindle Diet.” Of course, I interrogated her about it, with the intention of warning her if it turned out to be another unhealthy, fad diet.

It wasn’t.

My clever colleague had turned a passion of hers, reading short novels, into a healthy weight loss trick. If Deb keeps her food intake under 2,000 calories daily, 300 calories less than she needs to maintain her weight, she rewards herself by downloading a low-cost, (no more than $4), Kindle book for every day she meets her goal. She doesn’t stay under 2,000 calories every day, but if she has a good week, she stockpiles the books for the weekend. She started this routine in January and has lost almost 13 pounds.

“It’s the only diet I’ve successfully been on longer than two weeks. I think the key is the slow change toward getting competent at gauging the calorie cost of the food before I eat it, and always asking myself if it is worth the tradeoff,” claims Deb. “It’s easy to sacrifice my health for a lunchtime dessert, but for me, it’s much more serious if I’m sacrificing a new Kindle book.” With the nice weather, Deb has also begun downloading audiobooks and “walking and reading.”

Unbeknownst to Deb, research has documented that providing incentives can help individuals lose weight, and most importantly, keep the weight off. In a study of over 260 overweight individuals published in the journal, Obesity, modest financial incentives motivated greater weight loss over a 15-month period among individuals on the “incentive program” as compared to those not given an incentive.

“My next goal is to not only reward myself for sticking to my diet but also burn when I burn 300 calories exercising daily,” says Deb. Personally, I can’t wait to see what she looks like in the next few months.

Have you ever used incentives to help you lose weight? If so, what did you use and how much did you lose?

Be well, Joan

Twitter @JoanSalgeBlake

Submit your questions and concerns to AskJoan@globe.com, and stay tuned!

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