#FitnessFriday: The Mental Trick To Not Sabotaging Your Workout

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 06/27/2014 | 09:30 AM EDT

Study discovers a way to avoid overeating and ruining your workout goals

Ever find yourself completing a rigorous workout only to find yourself devouring a giant, totally unhealthy burger?

That’s known as workout sabotage. Sometimes rather than doing the work required to be or stay fit, one will give in to eating urges that are totally counterproductive to being “healthy.”


But a new study shows a simple shift in perspective could be all it takes to keep from ruining your workout. In found that instead of focusing on how tough your workout is, you should focus on how fun it is.

In the study, a researcher asked 56 women to walk the same mile-long path at individual times at their own pace. Half of the group was told the purpose of the walk was to exercise, while the other half of the group was told the goal of the walk was to "do something fun" and test the music-listening quality of a new MP3 player.

After the women went on their walks, they were invited to eat a buffet lunch that included pasta with meat, green beans and bread. They were also asked to make two choices for a dessert and drink: applesauce or chocolate pudding, and water or Coke.

Research found that both the "fun" group and "exercise" group ate about the same amount of calories for their main course from the buffet lunch; they were also equally split in choosing between the healthy drink and dessert options. Where the two groups did differ, however, was in the amount of drinks and desserts. Women in the "fun" group served themselves fewer calories' worth of drinks and desserts, compared with those in the "exercise" group. In fact, the "exercisers" served themselves 42 percent more pudding and Coke than those who were told they were just on a fun walk.


"I think we can frame our workouts in different ways, focusing on whatever we consider fun about it instead of focusing only on the effort that will be performed," said the study’s researcher Carolina Werle. "The more fun we have during the physical activity the less we'll feel the license to indulge or the need to compensate for the previous effort."

(Photo: StA-gur Karlsson/Getty Images)

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