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Why Willpower Won't Work...

Almost everyone struggles to act in their individual best interest, particularly when doing so requires foregoing a more immediately enjoyable alternative.'

The Precision Nutrition Level 2: Master Health Coaching course is beyond amazing. I am learning so much about people, about deep health and opportunities people have to connect with their deep health and make massive changes to their health over time.


This week we got to read an article called 'Beyond Willpower: Strategies for Reducing Failures of Self-Control' and my assignment was to translate that into English for you, so here goes!

What does that quote mean?

It means, it is hard to choose the water when the Champagne is there and so bubbly and delicious!


Have you stopped to realize lately that temptations - rewards that provide short-term gratification but hinder long term goals-are even more abundant now than ever before (one-click shopping, social media, 24/7 streaming)? It is the balance of what you want vs what you should.


Have you ever heard of the Marshmallow test?

Scientists put kids in a room with a table and on that table is a plate and on that plate is one marshmallow. The scientist says to the kids, 'you can have this ONE right now, or you can sit here for 15 minutes and if oyu do that without eating this ONE, you can have TWO.' Succeeding at self-control requires people to make an immediate decision for long term gain. The kids will wait for a short period of time and then they get rewarded with a second one. Totally worth it.


Health and wellness decisions are a little bit more challenging. Clients say to me ALL THE TIME, 'I know what to do Jill, I just don't do it. Help me do the things.' For example, my clients know to eat more protein and move more, they know more chicken and less tortilla chips, but the tortilla chips in the moment are so appealing and they cannot see the forest through the trees.


So, what can you do? SO MUCH!


I am going to provide a topic and a relevant example and you pick the one or ones that might work for you!


- Commitment device: This could be a tracker. Maybe for one week you use MyFitness Pal or LoseIt apps to track everything you eat. EVERYTHING you eat and drink. This is a very tangible tool that gives hard data about what you are putting into your body as it relates to macronutrients and/or calories. Soemtimes just seeing that, or knowing oyu have to track it makes people think twice about eating it. For real.


- Temptation Bundling: This one might be my favorite. I happen to love exercise. Yes, I am special. One of my clients doesn't but she does love White Lotus (or binge watching any TV show), so she walks on the treadmill while she watches the show. Temptation bundling enables people to couple indulgent activities, such as mindlessly watching TV, with self-controlled behavior, like exercise!


- Situation modification: The flip side of the two above is removing the temptation from view. A good example of this is creating friction between you and the treat you cannot stay away from. For me, it is Peanut Butter M&M's. They are on the top shelf of my pantry, in a container, so if I want some, I have to make real effort to dig in. If they were in my line of sight in the pantry, quite frankly, they would already be gone.


How can all of this relate to this time of year?

I go back to my statement from the newsletter this week, it is not a cheat (a term I personally despise), it is a choice.


Make the choice.


If you are going to a party, have a light protein meal before you go and then make the choice to have one plate of food at the party instead of multiple plates of food.


If you are going out to eat with friends, make the choice to look at the menu before you go and choose what you are having before you get there.


If you bump up against a failure of self-control, you are HUMAN. Most people let it derail everything, 'Ugh, I cheated, I might as well eat all of the things.' Short term decision that will hinder long term gains. Look down the road at what you want your outcome to be and take steps today and everyday to get there.



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