There may be some truth to that old entrepreneurial adage, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.” A recent study, published in the February issue of Psychology and Health, found that participants who used visualization were more likely to achieve their healthy eating goals than those who didn’t.
In the study, freshmen at McGill University in Montreal were asked to eat more servings of fruit for one week. Participants were split into four groups. The first group stated and repeated the goal. The second created a simple plan for eating more fruit. The third pictured themselves eating more fruit. And the fourth made a simple plan, imagined implementing the plan and pictured themselves eating the fruit.
Students who ate the least amount of fruit before the experiment – fewer than two servings a week – benefited the most when they made a plan, imagined implementing it and pictured themselves eating the fruit. They upped their consumption to nearly four servings during the study.
“Visualization should work for anything, like increasing fruit consumption, but any other behavior as well,” says Bärbel Knäuper, the lead researcher on the study.
Whether your goal is eating more fruit, getting more exercise or losing weight, achieving that success is pretty straightforward, researchers say. Just start by picturing yourself doing it.