Your Will Power Gas Tank
Lately, I’ve been heavy on the emotional side of things when it comes to developing solid nutrition habits that compliment your fitness habits. Whether your goals are to build and get big or to tighten and tone, nutrition should acompany the weight lifting portion of that. Also, if either of those is your goal, YOU SHOULD BE LIFTING WEIGHTS!
The blog we got the most hits on, on social media, surrounded self-compassion and how being mindful of mistakes, being kind to yourself in those mistakes (similar to how a mentor would be), and being aware that others have the same issues, will actually help lead you into longer lasting habits and success in most areas of life. (Click Here To Read That Blog)
Now, constant positivity, smiles, and upbeatness may often disguise themselves as self-compassion and trick you for a bit but ultimately, they just don’t hold up. There are ways to “fake it until you make it” in certain areas of life but true self-compassion isn’t one of them. Positivity doesn’t involve a mindfulness piece generally which is vital!
Now, to have the above defined self-compassion for one’s self through challenging situations sort of goes against human tendency. Most of us are our own worst critics. It requires a certain degree of willpower on our part to have self-compassion consistently. That will be the focus for today.
The all mighty willpower. Is it real? Can you master it? Does it run out? Is it ever actually higher at one time than it is at another time?
Precision Nutrition gives us some pretty solid definitions of willpower here:
-the ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals
-the capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse
-the ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system
-conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self
I think the one that would appeal to us fitness folks and folks aspiring to improve their fitness and nutrition, and honestly, me as a business owner with BIG goals, is the first definition presented.
“The ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.”
What Do We Know About Willpower?
Well, what do most of us do when we want to learn more about a topic, hit it up on Google right?? Hahaha, well here is what you might get from Google Scholar, or Pubmed:
-In 2007 a study found that heart rate variability (HRV) is a significant marker for willpower, noting that HRV increases when people effectively use their willpower (Segerstrom & Solberg Nes 2007).
From there, one study showed that using willpower literally fatigues participants (Tice et al. 2007). In another, stamina was shown to be depleted (Bray et al 2008).
Matthew Gailliot then proposes that the mind and body pull the same resources for fuel, suggesting that willpower uses glucose. Though arguable, Gailliot’s research at least suggested individuals with high glucose resources would have more willpower (Galliot et al 2007).
Follow-up studies showed that having too many choices — say, at a buffet — reduces willpower levels. Researchers also suggest that we should limit our options to conserve willpower. (Vohls et al. 2008)
What Have We Learned?
-When we have to use our willpower, your heart rate will be a little more all over the place
-When we use willpower, it literally makes us tired or more fatigued
-To use willpower to maintain the track to your goals, it takes energy or glucose or sugar, to help you make those decisions.
-Minimizing choices makes it easier! Don’t go to the buffet if you have trouble not eating 3 slices of cake!
Putting The Research Into Practice:
It would seem, at least on the surface, most of what we get from this many folks already knew:
-Don’t eat at the buffet
-If you don’t want to eat it, keep it out of your house because if it’s there, one day when your gas tank is low, you WILL EAT IT!
-Having tons of choices in your home might actually make you more prone to making poor decisions, similar to being at a buffet.
-You need to eat often enough and eat enough to be satisfied as it takes energy to to make decisions leading to long term success
-When you meal prep, don’t make a ton of different things as it could possibly be a bit more stressful when making a decision. Rather, stick to 2 or 3 meals that will last and go ahead and choose the days you want to eat them. That way there are less choices to wade through come meal time.
An Interesting Fact From The Will Power Research
Simply mentioning that will power is something that can be replenished or refilled, actually improved folks abilities related to will power. Something as simple as saying:
“Sometimes performing a tougher task will energize you through another tough task.”
Simply stating this, and having someone believe it, helps improve will power. This only works if you believe it.
“For example, when 153 college students were asked about their attitudes about motivation and willpower, the ones who felt that willpower was a limited resource felt “depleted” after a difficult task.
Yet the students who felt that willpower was cumulative did better on every subsequent task given.
As the saying goes, nothing seems to succeed like success.
Higher test scores, for instance, can lead to improved academic growth, which can lead to procrastinating less, which can even lead to things like healthy eating or sticking to a budget more effectively. (Job & Dweck et al. 2010.)”
What Does This Mean?
It takes will power to have self-compassion but, having self-compassion actually refills your will power gas tank. Isn’t that crazy! As long as you have self-compassion for yourself with mindfulness, kindness, and awareness of others, your will power improves.
Did you know I was going to tie this whole thing back to self-compassion again????? Hahahahahahah!!
If you’d like some help with this, you should check out our 28 Day Jumpstart Program. With this program you can get a taste of our BFP Next Level Accountability Program that we use to help people fill the gaps that normally exist in a typical gym setting.Accountability is the glue that holds consistency to results!