Can't Rely on Willpower

July 29, 2020

 

Why we can't rely on WILLPOWER and self-control

Have you ever seen the studies where the self-control of children is measured and then they are watched throughout their life? Several studies have been performed in this manner and had super interesting results.

Children with better willpower or self-control scored higher on their SATs, had a higher GPA, scored higher on measures of well-being, and even better relationships later in life. You probably think you know where I'm going with this...

SURPRISE, when it came to weight control later in life there was barely a difference! There was a difference, but it was very small (low single digit %). This indicates that self-control is not very important to weight loss and weight control.

Wait... WHAT⁉ It seems that losing weight is all about self-control!

Think about it this way -> if the student who is working to avoid distractions from their homework does so 9 times out of 10, they still get a pretty good grade! 🅰 Much better than the student who only avoids distraction 1 time out of 10. :-( But if the person who is trying to avoid the cookies in their kitchen does so 9 times and fails on the 10th, the result IS THE SAME as the person who failed on attempt #1. The cookies get eaten regardless and all the work done previously to avoid them is erased.

The restriction mentality (don't eat the cookie that's in the kitchen) is the mentality of those who really struggle. If instead we put the focus on shaping our food environment and crafting ways to not test our willpower in the first place, building automatic habits, that's how we achieve lasting weight loss. The temptation/distraction/cookies should just not be there at all or at least a lot less frequently. Out of sight, out of mind is an extremely powerful tool.

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