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How the best motivational app for weight loss hacks your animal brain

Amanda Cofer, MPH

Our brains are mysterious things. Scientists know a lot about what makes us tick as humans, but they are still learning and discovering new things all the time. What if I told you there was an app out there that hacked into one of the deepest human drives to help motivate your weight loss? The Noom app helps you do just that. What’s the drive you may ask? It’s community! Let’s break it down.

Your brain and weight loss motivation

If you’ve attempted to lose weight in the past you may know that it can sometimes feel like a lonely road. You may feel isolated at social events, work lunches, or even in your own family during dinner (no bueno)! Feeling this way can hit motivation where it hurts. We know that motivation can drive us to make one decision over another and that we are all motivated by different things. The neuro guys over at Arizona State University refer to this as motivational salience, which basically means something that stands out to you and makes you feel motivated may not necessarily have the same effect for others. So where does this actually happen in the brain? The decision making and judgement center, your frontal lobe!

We know, that sounded super nerdy (we can’t help ourselves), but this is also your brain on weight loss and lifestyle change. Everyone is losing weight for a different reason, working towards different goals, and motivated by various aspects of their journey. Essentially, this is a more scientific way to say that everyone is an individual and a one-size fits all approach isn’t going to cut it. What happens when you put all these different people and motivation traits into one place where they can interact, encourage, and support each other? A community! Evidence suggests that being part of a bigger group experiencing similar life events shapes our brains throughout our lives and influences our cognition. Social interaction is something embedded in us as people and something we crave (most of the time anyway). Teaching and learning from others can be a game changer when it comes to losing weight and sometimes a group to lean on can help you push through challenging times.

Community connection and weight loss motivation

With social interactions being a major player in our day to day lives as people, it’s only fitting that someone out there thought to include this as a component in health and weight loss programming. These groups fulfill needs that we all have and influence how we think and act, in a positive way of course, when it comes to our motivation. Group interactions have shown to be an effective addition to one on one programming and play a pivotal role in weight loss success. Fulfilling the simple need to be connected, feel like you have a place you belong, and to share your experiences with others can greatly impact motivation throughout a weight loss journey.

We already know that being social connected can impact us in multiple ways, but how does Noom do this to hack your animal brain and help you stay motivated? Each Noom user, along with their personal coach, is placed into a group of other Noomers that are in a similar place in the program to provide a sense of community, togetherness, and normalize the process of losing weight in a safe space. Research has determined that increasing social support in a digital setting like this can be just as if not more effective than dieting alone. The virtual nature of this support group also breaks down obstacles to access making it that much more useful. There are a lot of theories out there about why this has such an impact on motivation but what it comes down to is social support gives way to social influences, positive reinforcement, emotion and behavior regulation, goal setting, and realizing your own potential.  

Motivation, your brain, and community: tying it all together

The bottom line is that social connections and support is an important part of life. Feeling like you are going it alone can make a hard journey that much harder. Social interaction can have an impact on the way we think, see the process, and stay motivated towards our goals. These interactions are ingrained in us as humans! While everyone may be drawn towards different motivations while they lose weight, it can be crucial to have a safe place to go to celebrate success and talk through challenges. Noom provides just this when it comes to a virtual group setting to help you hack into one of your deepest and most innate motivational drives towards your weight loss success. The Beatles said it best when they said, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Find your Noom friends and give it a try for just $1.

Author: Amanda Cofer, MPH