As you know, last week it was my birthday. I got a couple of nice presents, but one of them isn’t in my possession yet because it has not yet been purchased. You see, my husband suggested that he would buy me a new bathing suit for the (hopefully) coming summer. I’m not usually the kind to spend much money on such a thing, so he thought I could pick out a really nice one for a change. I loved the idea, but here’s the thing…if I’m going to get a really nice bathing suit, I want to look good in it. So on Saturday night I gritted my teeth and decided that this is it: I’m restarting Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution and this time I’m sticking to it.
Sunday morning started a bit askew, since little missy was up in the middle of the night, which resulted in all of us sleeping in until almost 10 am. But I gritted my teeth, and after a healthy breakfast of whole wheat toast and boiled egg whites, I headed downstairs and did workout number 1. I then attempted to go about my day without resorting to any of the mindless snacking I’m famous for, while waiting for my meatloaf to finish cooking and anticipating the fact that I was going to have to measure my portions to keep from eating twice as much of it as is smart.
So you see, my day was full of willpower. Painful, frustrating willpower. And that got me thinking about something I once read in a Cracked.com article. At the time of reading the article I raised my eyebrows a bit and doubted the reality of the claim, but on Sunday I did a bit of Google research and lo and behold, it looks like it’s true.
Willpower is a finite resource.
I know, I know, it sounds like an excuse, right? But apparently there have been a lot of studies done on this idea, and so far it’s holding water. It looks like the more willpower you use in one area of your life, the less you have left for other areas. In other words, you might struggle all day to keep yourself from snacking, and actually manage it, but then when it comes time to do your exercises you just can’t seem to work up the willpower. It’s not entirely your fault…you haven’t got any left. This explains why you can feel so good about yourself early in the day and happily resist temptations, but later in the day you crash and start (for example) devouring everything in sight.
So does this mean we’re all doomed to failure because we can’t keep up the willpower thing forever? Of course not, although it’s definitely going to make things more difficult. Willpower (apparently) is like a muscle. It needs to be exercised. So the more willpower you are able to exert today, the easier it will be tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. It’s likely to be a slow process, but in the meantime you have to figure out how to dole out your willpower as necessary. If resisting snacks and treats all day depletes your stores so that you can’t bring yourself to exercise later, figure out how to let yourself have a little something, thereby saving that bit of willpower for when you need it. It’s a delicate balance, which in itself probably uses up willpower.
In fact, you know what? It’s not a delicate balance; it’s a vicious, circular cycle that makes me want to punch walls.
Anyway, I guess the point of this post is that I need to work on my willpower muscle. I’ve worked up great levels of determination before and used up all my willpower after a week or so, and I don’t want that to happen this time. I want to succeed this time because dammit, I want to look good in a really nice bathing suit! Is that so wrong? 😛