It’s a pretty common problem among both beginner and veteran exercisers; They continue to gain weight. No matter how many miles they put in a week or how much time they spend throwing weights around at the gym, the scale keeps going in the wrong direction. While there can be several reasons for this to happen, the most common has to do with the way you view both your workouts and your post-workout meals.
So, what’s the problem? I’m sure that, at some point in your fitness career, you’ve been in this situation: You dragged yourself to the gym, cranked out a workout that you really didn’t want to do and then felt like you deserved a treat afterward. The logic usually goes that since you just torched all those calories, you can afford to indulge a little.
The problem with this thought-process is… well, that it’s wrong.
Look At The Numbers
Even though there are all sorts of problems with trying to estimate your caloric expenditure, let’s assume that you ran at a pace of about 10 min/mile for around 30 minutes. For the average person, that would do away with somewhere around 340 calories.
Now, that’s a pretty respectable run for you so you decide that you deserve a prize. And you just love Wendy’s frostys but, you’ve trying to be good, so you just get a small. Guess how many calories are in that small frosty? That’s right, 340. Even a children’s size is going to run you 200 calories, effectively undoing most of your workout.
Since weight loss is dependent on keeping your body in a caloric deficit, those numbers could be making all the difference. Clearly, then, controlling your post-workout snaking is important. Is there something else you can do to make this whole reprogramming process easier, though?
According to a new study, yes. And the solution is fairly simple.
A New Outlook
Actually, the findings in question came from two related studies that were both designed to explore how your view of your workout can effect the results you see from it. In both studies, the subjects were led on a 2km walk around a lake. One group was told that they were going on a exercise walk, while the other was told that it was a scenic walk. Afterward, they were given either a full meal or snack depending on which study they were participating in.
In the first study, those who believed that their walk had been for exercise ate 35 percent more dessert than the subject who thought that it had just been a leisurely stroll around a lake. The second study gave both groups free access to a stash of M&M’s after their walk as a snack. The “exercise” group ate over double the calories of the “scenic” group – 372 calories, compared to just 166.
The article also included a third study, which was strictly observational, wherein the researchers found that people who enjoyed running a competitive race made healthier food choices after the event.
Across all three studies, the groups who enjoyed their exercise – even if they didn’t know it was exercise – were happier and had more energy in addition to eating better.
The solution, as stated, is fairly simple: Do what you have to do to enjoy your workouts. Mix up your program. Change where you run or bike. Load up your playlist with your favorite music. You could also just keep telling yourself that going for a run outside – even if you hate running – is still better than sitting in an office all day.
What tips do you have for making your runs more enjoyable? Please share them in the comments.