I know what and where my muscles are.
Believe me. I’ve been to the new Body Pump release twice this week. (Jumping lunges? Dang!)
So I was surprised to learn, via a Splendid Table podcast, that scientists say willpower is a muscle that can be strengthened through exercise, just like biceps and glutes.
The author of the book that sparked the discussion also shared that:
Willpower is fueled by glucose, and it can be bolstered simply by replenishing the brain’s store of fuel. That’s why eating and sleeping- and especially failing to do either of those-have such dramatic effects on self-control (and why dieters have such a hard time resisting temptation).
Baumeister’s latest research shows that we typically spend four hours every day resisting temptation. No wonder people around the world rank a lack of self-control as their biggest weakness.
Apparently, the science of willpower goes back to a study in which kids were asked to make a choice. They could get one marshmallow immediately. OR, they could wait 15 minutes and have two marshmallows.
The study found (at the time) that kids who waited were healthier decades later.
But the same study did not correlate overweight or unhealthy adults with a lack of willpower.
IN SHORT: willpower is a key piece of health, but can’t be to blame as the only factor. Overweight people (duh) aren’t overweight because they don’t say no to things. Just like healthy people don’t have 100% success at overcoming temptation.
This was a really interesting topic, and it made me think that willpower needs to be exercised in conjunction with everything else we do. Go to the gym AND work on your posture. Eat whole foods AND remember to floss.
It all adds up.