Trick yourself into exercise

Want to get more out of your exercise? Then don't think of it as exercise.

I know that sounds a little like psychobabble -- but it's true, because people who think of exercise as a workout seem to focus on the "work" part of it. It's no fun, and they feel entitled to make up for the calories they lost by eating and drinking more later on.

People who do the exact same activities and think of them as fun or pleasure, on the other hand, tend to eat better later.

It's what I've seen in the real world, and it's also the conclusion of a new study.

In one experiment, two sets of women were told to take the same 30-minute walk through an outdoor course, and then given lunch afterward.

One set of women was told the walk would be exercise, and they were asked to track their exertion levels, while the other was told to enjoy the walk and listen to music.

Both groups went the same distance and burned the same number of calories -- but the women who believed they had exercised were more grumpy and fatigued after.

And when they ate, the "exercising" women were more likely to choose sugary soda instead of water and chocolate pudding instead of applesauce.

As a result, they ingested more calories (and lower-quality calories) during their post-walk lunch.

In a second experiment, which included men, another set of volunteers were given the same instructions -- with some told to walk and enjoy the mile-long course, and others told the journey would be "exercise."

At the end, they were allowed to fill a bag with M&Ms -- and those who believed they had been exercising took twice as much.

Now, obviously, you're not going to trick yourself on this. But this simple experiment is proof positive that attitude is everything-- and if, like many exercisers, you find yourself eating too much after a workout, maybe it's time to give your attitude a makeover.

Don't look at exercise as a chore you have to get through or a punishment. Think of it as fun -- and if it helps to pick fun activities for your exercise, then go for it.

Remember, not all workouts have to be work. A brisk walk through a park, hiking, dancing, tennis and more all count -- so pick something you enjoy, get moving and keep at it.