One day I made a mental list of all the different tools I have used to lose and maintain my weight. It was quite the list and represented some successful and some not so successful weight loss tools. If I asked you to make a list, would yours be similar to mine? Books and magazines Internet articles and websites Measuring cups, food scale, and measuring spoons Resistance bands and dumbbell sets Treadmill Stationary bicycle Running shoes Notebook Exercise clothes Some of these tools were extremely helpful like the running shoes, clothes, notebook, and books. Others, not so much. Take the stationary bike for example. That ended up being a terrific clothing rack that my husband and I struggled to keep clean. We finally sold it for $5 at a garage sale. For years, researchers have tried to figure out what the magic ingredient is that sets the successful loser from the not so successful. Weighing habits, balance of nutrients, exercise frequency, breakfast habits, and support groups have all been identified as possible reasons for dieting success. I am sure that many of those played a role in my success. I have never been much of a breakfast eater but still managed to lose weight and keep it off. I do weigh every day, eat a healthy balance of nutrients, and exercise regularly. A 2015 research study has added a new tool to the arsenal of people who want to lose weight. It’s so simple it seems silly. Make a grocery store list. Who knew? Just write down what you are going to buy and you have a better chance of weighing less than your friend who doesn’t make a list. The cool thing about this tool is that it is super simple. Everyone has a piece of paper and a pen and a lot of people have access to computers or smartphones capable of making and printing a list. Researchers at the RAND Corporation took time to go door to door and asked people about their grocery shopping habits. All in all, they interviewed over 1,000 people living in lower income neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area. Among the questions they asked was whether the person shopped using a list. When the researchers ran their statistics, they found that the people who used a list weighed about 5 pounds less and had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than the people who didn’t. Now, 5 pounds may not seem like a lot, but if you are 50 pounds overweight, 5 pounds is 10 percent of what you need to lose. That’s pretty significant. When I read the study, which you can find in the “Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior,” it made me think about how simple changes can add up to big benefits. Making a list is simple – right? All you have to do is sit down, decide what you want to eat for the week, and note what foods you need to buy. Not only is it simple, but having a list helps you avoid being swayed by the ceaseless push from food advertisers to buy junk. They push you toward unhealthy purchases by featuring junk food on almost every endcap in the store, filling grocery store ads with unhealthy foods, and making junk food appear cheaper than healthy food. Using a list gives you the same benefits a horse using blinders has. The horse can only see what is in front of him and is not swayed by what the horses on the other side of him are doing. A list is like your blinder. Pay attention to your list, look specifically for foods you want to buy, and you will leave the store with only healthy foods in your cart. And you know what happens when your diet is filled with healthy foods and void of junk, don’t you? You often end up eating fewer calories and losing weight.