Jump to content
Are you looking for the BariatricPal Store? Go now!

Willpower: Good for Nothing.

Recommended Posts

We've all heard it.

'Mind over matter. Want to lose weight? Try pushing back from the table more often.'

Bariatric dietitian Elizabeth Anderson explains how these and other utterly ridiculous suggestions might finally be retired in light of new research on self-control, willpower and weight.

Turns out, we aren’t that good at self-control.

The good news? Who needs it??

Researchers are discovering that teaching people to resist temptation provides either short-term gains or is just an outright failure.

“Effortful restraint, where you are fighting yourself—the benefits are overhyped,” according to Kentaro Fujita, a psychologist studying self-control at Ohio State University.

Brian Resnick from Vox.com says the implications of this are huge.

“If we accept that brute willpower doesn’t work, we can feel less bad about ourselves when we succumb to temptation. And, we might be able to refocus our efforts on solving problems like obesity.”

So what does work? Because clearly some people are managing their relationship with frosting better than me!

Fujita explains, “We tend to think of people with strong willpower as people who are able to fight this battle effectively. Actually, the people who are really good at self-control never have to fight these battles in the first place.”

Say what??

A landmark study from 2011 revealed that people who rocked self-control, those who described themselves as ‘good at resisting temptation’ reported fewer temptations throughout the course of the study.

And funnily enough, those who reported using willpower admitted they were not meeting their goals AND they were exhausted from trying!

This, I understand.

People who are good at self-control seem to be structuring their lives in a way to avoid having to make self-control decisions in the first place, “says researcher and psychologist Brian Galla.

Galla says creating a schedule or lifestyle that makes exercise and eating healthy the easiest most routine thing to do, are the ones most likely to consistently do it.

“A trick to wake up more quickly in the morning is to set the alarm on the other side of the room. That’s not in-the-moment willpower at play, it’s planning.”

Fujita suggests ‘the really good dieter’ wouldn’t buy a cupcake because they wouldn’t have passed by the bakery in the first place. Or, they would create a negative reaction to the cupcake instead of a positive one—i.e., ‘Ick! A cupcake. What an artery-clogging, life-shortening sugar bomb.’ (I’ll let you know if this works!)

“Self-control isn’t a special moral muscle, it’s like any decision. And to improve the decision, we need to improve the environment and give people the skills needed to avoid cake in the first place,” Galla says.

Neuroscientist Elliot Berkman from the University of Oregon believes the term ‘self-control’ needs to be abolished.

“It’s really no different than any other decision making.”

Berkman is testing out a theory in his lab called ‘temptation bundling’ where people make activities more enjoyable by adding a fun component to them.

The research is still young but one study has already showed people were more likely to work out when they could listen to an audio copy The Hunger Games.

I’m personally eager to try out some of these ideas. I’d like to create an index of strategies and habits you guys use to make the ‘healthy’ thing to do, the easiest thing to do.

Please email me your ideas and I’ll compile the tips to share!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. I painful am getting this. My Dad, always HWP, he claimed he was fat as a kid (not that the pics show). He may have simply trained himself as a kid to not do xyz, but he also often doesn't realize when he needs to back down (pushes himself too hard physically until it is too late).

For the rest of us mere mortals, decades of food Triggers..

Willpower isn't there. It seems to be a bunch of planning and mindfuckery.

One that I hope I can master better after surgery.

I am tired of the background noise of food urges that never stops. I would like to banish that chatter to a far corner of my mind.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Trending Products

  • Trending Topics

  • Recent Status Updates

    • Wanda Northern  »  SpartanMaker

      Good luck on your upcoming surgery. 
      · 0 replies
      1. This update has no replies.
    • Wanda Northern  »  Slwhurst

      Good afternoon. We’re Scorpio sisters. My birthday is 11-08. I live in Memphis, TN. My surgery date is Monday September 26th, 2022. I begin my liver shrink diet on Monday September 12th. 
      · 1 reply
      1. Wanda Northern

        Robert Wegner with Saint Francis will be doing my surgery.

    • jenuinelygenuinely

      My 3 babies and my little "niece". Took on a babysitting job this past weekend. She is super tiny compared to my 3 biggies. Sitting on command for treat-os!
      Pre-op Liquid - Day 2 
      It was very hard today...I'm feeling some type of way from not eating the meals I was supposed to before the pre-op diet. My sister got stuck in Dallas a week before my diet and we were supposed to go on a nice dinner, but that never happened. I have super bad dry mouth and bathroom breaks are more frequent. 

      · 0 replies
      1. This update has no replies.
    • jenuinelygenuinely

      Pre-op Liquid Diet - Day 1
      Had my morning cup of 8 oz Regular Orange Juice. I am ready!!! I did have 3 bites of my fiance's cheesecake last night for dinner. It was so yummy but with my former sleeve it didn't allow me any more bites.
      · 0 replies
      1. This update has no replies.
    • Tim in Tampa

      Just started my pre-op diet today!
      · 0 replies
      1. This update has no replies.
  • Recent Topics

  • Hot Products

  • Sign Up For
    Our Newsletter

    Follow us for the latest news
    and special product offers!
  • Together, we have lost...

    PatchAid Vitamin Patches