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Science Says Celebrate! Weight loss is something that a lot of people will struggle with at some point in their lives, and maintaining the willpower to keep to a strict eating program can be a harder task than pushing out those last few reps.

A group of researchers looked at the different attitudes of people to food. A group of respondents were quizzed on their thoughts about chocolate cake, a food that is typically off limits to a dieter, and broke the cohort into two groups on the basis of the results.

The first group replied that they associated cake with feelings of guilt, and the second had minds that automatically associated cake with celebration. The members of each group were not united in their goals. Some wanted to drop weight, others were happy to stay as they were.

Three months down the track, the celebrators who were trying to cut down had lost the most weight compared to the guilt ridden dieters.The study followed the two groups for a year and a half. The celebrators reported higher feelings of control over their behaviour and had better bodies to show for it at the end of the study.

The authors concluded that guilt is not a motivating factor, which is a great thing to keep in mind the next time you slip up on the diet or miss the odd gym session. This study echoes what many of us know – a positive attitude and the ability to see minor setbacks for what they are will help you to keep a firm focus on your long term goals. Listen to science and stop sweating the small stuff!

Kuijer RG, Boyce JA. Chocolate Cake: Guilt or Celebration? Associations with Healthy Eating Attitudes, Perceived Behavioural Control, Intentions and Weight-loss. Appetite. 2013 Nov 22. pii: S0195-6663(13)00469-8.

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