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Discover Loss Aversion: It Can Help You Achieve Your Weight Loss Goal

By: Stuart Carter, Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1,

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

loss aversion
More Americans are more overweight than ever before, and the rate is climbing. More worrying is that the number of people attempting to lose weight has fallen from 56% in 1988 to 49% in 2014.

If you’re one of the people trying to lose weight or no longer trying then it’s time you added loss aversion into your daily routine.

The Problem With Weight Loss

Take a look at a photo from 5 or 10 years ago. You’ll see a different you. Yes, you might look older and this is almost inevitable. (Hollywood celebrities are generally immune from this aging process thanks to money and clever photography!).

loss aversionThe other thing you’ll probably notice is that you’re bigger than you used to be. This simple trigger can get you started on your weight loss journey.

However, losing weight means changing your diet. Our free 1-day meal plan can help you see what you should be eating.

Unfortunately, despite the best intentions, it can be difficult to stick to a diet. Let’s face it, you’re busy. You’re probably juggling work, family and a host of social commitments. You can be forgiven for the odd slip.

The problem is that the odd slip-up can be seriously damaging to your weight loss goals, leading to bigger slips.

This is where loss aversion can help you stick to your goals and get the result you want.

loss aversion

Discovering Loss Aversion

The principle behind loss aversion is simple; you don’t want to lose something you already have. In fact, you could say that losing something will make you miserable. Replacing it will not generally restore your feeling of elation.

loss aversionIn simple terms, you might prefer not to lose $5 than to gain $5. This is actually an important concept in business economics.

In many situations, this is a bad thing, but you can use it to your advantage.

When you’re considering weight loss you want to lose weight! But, food is the biggest temptation. No matter how hard you attempt to stick to your 1-day meal plan, it is often easier when stressed to grab a naughty snack.

Of course, learning stress management activities will help.

However, loss aversion can also be a powerful way to prevent yourself from eating the wrong foods.

All you need to do is create a list of penalties in respect of the foods you are trying to avoid. If you eat one then your penalty will be to give up, or lose something. Money is generally a good penalty; no one wants to lose that!

Putting Loss Aversion Into Practice

The first step in your loss aversion goal is to find a partner. It’s best if you can choose someone in the same house as you. This will help to ensure that you are held liable for any slip-up.

Your partner will need to be prepared to create their own penalty list and stick to it!

Your lists should include the food you are most likely to succumb to when stressed:

  • Chips – $5
  • Chocolate – $5
  • Take away food – $10

The list can be as long as you want. Ideally, to help with your weight loss motivation you will remove foods you shouldn’t be eating from your home.

loss aversionEvery time you select an item from your penalty list you will need to give your diet partner the indicated amount.

Unless you have exceptionally deep pockets you’ll quickly learn not to succumb to temptation. The result is you’ll find yourself sticking to your diet plan.

It is important to consider where the money is going. If you are giving it to a friend, who is acting as your diet partner, then you won’t want to lose it.

But, if your partner lives with you, and you’re giving it to them, you might just feel like it will still be spent on you.

In this case, it would be best to pool the funds and send to a charity. Even better you could choose a cause that you disagree with and promise to send all the funds to it. This is a great way to use loss aversion to help achieve your goals.

loss aversion

Taking Your Loss Aversion Technique One Step Further

It feels great to lose the weight, week by week you’ll see the scales moving downwards. This can often be all the motivation you need to keep going.

Of course, the temptation is always present but your loss aversion technique will make a huge difference to how often you succumb.

In fact, you can take this technique a step further.
Again, you’ll need a diet partner.
loss aversion
Simply decide how much weight you wish to lose. Then tell your diet partner that you will lose it within a certain time.

For example, you want to lose 20 pounds and you’re going to lose 2 pounds a week.

The next step is easy. Decide how much you are going to bet against your own success. The higher the figure the more likely it is that you’ll stick to your weight loss targets.

For example, every week you don’t lose your chosen 2 pounds you lose $50 to your friend.

Even after you’ve reached your target you can keep your loss aversion therapy going. Leave the bet in place, if you gain any weight in a week, your friend gets the money.

Use Your Local betting Store

There are some betting shops which will allow you to bet on your own weight loss. In general the larger the amount you wish to lose the better the return will be.

Of course, this approach is slightly different. Your funds are already gone and you’re simply attempting to earn more. You also won’t get support from a betting shop to maintain your target weight.

The Bottom Line

Successful weight loss involves a good meal plan, exercise and most importantly; you need to resist temptation.

Loss aversion works because you don’t want to give away your hard earned funds for no reason. This makes you stick to your healthy eating plan and achieve your weight loss goals.

Just remember, weight loss should be seen as a gradual process. You want to change your eating and exercise habits; this will allow them to last a lifetime.

Your new friend & health coach,

Stuart Carter Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Stuart gained his Diploma in Personal Training & Sports Medicine through Premier Global, back in 2001. In 2018, he completed his Level 1 Precision Nutrition qualification.

Throughout his career in Fitness, Stuart has trained hundreds of clients, worked in almost every position in the industry, and ran his own successful training studio.

After a hiatus away from the Fitness industry, working in Corporate Management and Finance, Stuart returned to what he loves… Fitness! This return led to a chance meeting with Dr. Balduzzi, and a place in the Fit Father Project team.

Brotherhood Nickname: The Fit Brit
Bragging Rights: 18 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on loss aversion.


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