The REAL Reason You’re Not Losing Weight Even Though You’re Exercising

sweatingYou know that thing where you start working out a lot and you're all, "can't wait to see how skinny I get!" and instead you lose nothing at all? Or worse, even gain weight? Yeah, I hate that, too. Well, the usual explanation is that your new exercise routine has made you monstrously hungry and you're eating more than you were before. Dah, stupid exercise! Making us want to eat food. But wait -- don't blame all exercise. It turns out there's a specific kind of exercise that makes you snack more. And that exercise is ... the exercise you hate the most!


I'm not kidding. A new study shows that we usually snack more after a loathsome workout that felt like a chore. But if we make our workout feel like fun times, we snack less. Here's how the researchers put it.

The findings showed that when physical activity was perceived as fun (e.g., when it is labeled as a scenic walk rather than an exercise walk), people subsequently consume less dessert at mealtime and consume fewer hedonic snacks. A final observational field study during a competitive race showed that the more fun people rated the race as being, the less likely they were to compensate with a hedonic snack afterwards. Engaging in a physical activity seems to trigger the search for reward when individuals perceive it as exercise but not when they perceive it as fun.

Now that I think of it, that makes total sense. If you've just forced yourself through a workout you hated, you'll feel like you need to reward yourself with a treat. But if you actually enjoy your workout, it's a treat in itself! Says the Pollyanna of exercise!

I've experienced both kinds of workouts, actually. And fortunately I've found ways to stay active that I truly enjoy ... well, most of the time. But for some people, finding a fun fitness routine is like hunting for unicorns. But don't give up hope. Personal trainer Carly Pizzani has some advice for you.

1. First, just go out and try everything. "You never know what's going to be the workout that clicks for you," Pizzani says. (Hmm, kind of sounds like dating advice ...)

2. Don't assume that just because everyone else seems to love a certain exercise, you'll love it, too. It's okay to hate CrossFit or spin.

3. Finally, keep an open mind about what counts as exercise. "It doesn't have to be CrossFit, HIIT, or marathon running to be exercise. Walking is one of the best exercises around -- you just don't hear about it as much."

And oh look -- summer is here, so you have all sorts of outdoor options. Forget New Year's resolutions. June is the month to start having active fun. Just don't call it "working out."

How do you feel about working out -- torture or treat?


Image © Wavebreak Media LTD/Wavebreak Media Ltd./Corbis

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