Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Exercising my Willpower Muscle

PMS and a late night finally did me in when it came to the Halloween candy.  Last night I ate three mini pieces.  Plus two (or was it three?) bites of a full size Baby Ruth bar (who gives out full size candy bars to trick-or-treaters?!).  I had an if...then plan based on reading this Fitness article (more on that in a sec) that went like this, "If I start to eat the Halloween candy I will put the remainder down the garbage disposal."  Well, I followed the "if" part.  I put the rest of the Baby Ruth in the disposal but I didn't want to wake the kids so I altered the "then" part of the plan and packed up the rest of the candy to take to work the next day (today).  And this morning I dutifully handed over the candy.  While I'd rather have not eaten that candy last night, what's done is done and I'm moving on.

Still, temptation is everywhere, or at least it feels like is this time of year.  As I mentioned above I read a good Fitness article recently on resisting temptation, Supersize your Self Control, which basically said you need to "exercise" your willpower so it can get stronger, just like you do your muscles.  It had some good info.

My first favorite tip from the article was to come up with a Plan B.  You ask yourself "what if" and devise an "if-then" plan to cope.  I used this to resist Marek's Halloween candy which was safely tucked in the cupboard (until last night).  I had asked myself what I would do if I started eating it.  "If I eat any of Marek's candy I will open all the rest up and put it down the garbage disposal."  The idea was that if I couldn't resist it, I might eventually eat most all of his candy.  And it worked for a whole week.  I consider that a success.  Me in a house with a bag full of candy for a week is noteworthy.  I used the reminder a few times and the thought of putting all that candy down the disposal stopped me.  It seemed like such a waste so I didn't bother.  When PMS pushed me over the edge and I ate some of the candy, at least I had a plan on what to do next.  The article said this tool works because "it shifts the decision making moment from the danger zone," like at 10pm when I start really wanting the candy, "to a point in time when you're in touch with what you want to achieve."

The other tip that I like:  When tempted, don't ask yourself if you want to give in, "do I want a chocolate biscotti?"  The article said our brains are "hard-wired" to pursue the reward (biscotti) so when faced with this question will push for the biscotti.  Instead, it suggests, ask yourself something along the lines of, "Do I want to reach my fitness goals?", etc.  It re-focuses our brain on a more important reward, rather than a momentary one.  I also like that it's more positive, allowing me to answer "Yes!".  By the way, those are Biggest Loser winners on the cover.  They lost a combined 249 pounds!  I haven't watched the show in years but that sure is cool.

Ok, last one...I read another article the other day (that I can't find now) about resisting temptation. When faced with temptation, make a fist. Apparently clenching any of your muscles boosts willpower.  It's as if you're physically "fighting" the urge to indulge.  The article said it only works if you are "focused on healthy eating" (whatever that means) and that you have to clench the muscle while facing the temptation.  It used fist as an example but said "any muscle" later.  I guess this might be a good time to get in some kegel's?  Nothing like killing two birds with one stone!

1 comment:

  1. Candy in the house a whole week?? That's impressive. I can't do it. Actually, I COULD. It would have to be under lock and key though - and brett would have the key :) Good temptation temps - I like the re-wiring question technique, I'll try that out.

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