To test this theory, researchers took people on a hike. Half the participants were told they were going on the hike for exercise, and the other half were told they were going on a scenic walk for fun. The hike itself, though, was exactly the same for both groups.
After these hikes, participants were provided with a meal or a snack, and they were allowed to eat as much or as little as they wanted.
The results were fascinating.
People who thought they were hiking for exercise ate 35% more chocolate pudding after their workout than those who thought they were taking the scenic walk. In the other protocol, the hike-for-exercise group ate 206 more calories in M&M's than the hike-for-fun group.
Basically, those who went into exercise assuming it would be an enjoyable experience rather than "work" ended up eating considerably less after their workout.
Talk about a mindfuck.
Play your own mind games
The best thing about this research is how easy it is to apply to your own life.
First, stop doing exercise you hate or dread. Katie Proctor, a healthy lifestyle and business coach at Elevate with Katie Proctor, says, "I find that when exercise is viewed as a chore, then food is more often used as a reward (for doing it), or even punishment (for avoiding it). When exercise is viewed as more than something to check off a to-do list, it supports a healthier relationship with food. I suggest clients find their 'soulmate workout' or something they can genuinely look forward to."