willpower

Why Willpower Is So Hard


By Fit3 Head Coach Tina Van Horn

Do you have an easier time making smarter food choices during the day than in the evening? Whether it’s that open bag of chips the kids left on the kitchen counter or the butter pecan ice cream in the freezer, sometimes no amount of willpower can thwart the craving.

 
I am speaking from experience on this one, and to be honest, it is a daily struggle. I always thought it came down to self-discipline and that if I was strong enough, I should just be able to say no to the chips, ice cream and cereal. Turns out, there is very interesting research that explains why willpower sometimes isn’t enough to keep us from making those regrettable choices.

 
Stephan Guyenet, a Seattle-based neuroscientist and author, says it is possible to resist these easily-available temptations, but that doesn’t work forever.

"The problem with willpower is that it's a limited resource. It's effortful," Guyenet says. "If you have to do it on a constant daily basis, which is what you have to do if you've lost weight and your hunger circuits and your food-seeking circuits are activated, you're going to have to exert that willpower on a continual basis to restrain yourself from eating food."


This can be so hard! Life gets crazy, and we all have so much to do in a day. If you’re trying to live a balanced life, then willpower becomes even more difficult to sustain. Think of your willpower as a gas tank. Your fuel runs low and close to empty by the end of the day. That’s why it is harder to make those smarter food choices in the evening! The good thing about Fit3 is that we have those flex calories for treats once in a while.

 
This biological explanation makes me feel better, but I know I have to be careful to not allow it to become an excuse. The best strategy for me is to keep the temptations out of the house. Not so easy when you have two very hungry boys and you don’t want to deprive them of treats. But seriously, they aren’t going to be scarred for life if there isn’t any ice cream in the freezer, right?


Let us know how you navigate the minefield of treats at the end of the day!