This story originally appeared on GoodHousekeeping.com.
The key to losing weight may be right at your fingertips. A new study from Duke University found that keeping a food and exercise diary is way less effective than tracking your goals through text messaging. That makes sense: Texting saves time and is more convenient.
The study followed 26 obese women (average age: 38), who got daily motivational texts to help them reach personal goals, like avoiding sugary drinks or walking 10,000 steps a day. Every morning, they woke up to this automated text: “Please text yesterday’s # of steps you walked, # of sugary drinks and if you ate fast food.” The system sent them personalized feedback and a tip based on their responses.
After six months, the 26 texters each lost about 3 pounds, while a group of 24 women who tracked their health habits in more traditional ways gained an average of 2.5 pounds.
Study author Dori Steinberg, a postdoctoral obesity researcher in the Duke Obesity Prevention Program, says texting is effective for weight loss because it’s more accessible than other methods and not as mentally taxing.
RELATED: Is Your Kitchen Making You Fat?
Having motivational reminders helps people keep track of their goals and makes them more accountable to themselves, says Samantha Cassetty, M.S., R.D., nutrition director at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. Whether youre part of an online community, a weight loss group, or receive supportive messages through an app or text, youll have a better chance of losing weight than if you were going it alone.
To get that social feedback, Cassetty suggests buddying up with a pal and checking in with each other. Here are some tips for the buddy system:
- Trade progress reports. Tell each other how many steps you took during the previous day, whether you had a sugary beverage (hopefully not!), whether you visited a fast food restaurant, and how many fruits and veggies you ate.
- Incentivize each other. Place a wagersay, the person who loses the biggest proportion of their weight has to take the other person to a movie or a manicure (something that doesn’t involve food).
- Choose your buddy wisely. You want a pal who’s going to motivate you and participate with you rather than the gal who encourages you to skip your workout just this one time.
RELATED: 9 New Weight Loss Strategies That Work Better Than Old Ones
For more at-your-fingertips weight loss ideas, be sure to check out our favorite free diet apps.
Photo by Getty Images