What I’ve Learned About Willpower

Right now there is an online event going on called The Mom Conference. If you haven’t heard of it I would totally recommend it – I think it’s on themomconference.com, you can just google The Mom Conference and find it. It’s a free online daily webinar thing where a bunch of experts of all different areas get on and do videos. It’s free to watch for 24 hours and then after that you can purchase the videos.

A speaker they interviewed yesterday was named Susan Pierce Thompson. She has her PhD in Psychology. Her talk was amazing and I loved the topic of it because I felt like it was perfect!

When we are trying to lose weight, we always think we need more willpower; more willpower to eat less, to eat less junk food, we just need more willpower. And if you don’t have more willpower you’re a loser.

But what even is willpower? In this talk, Dr. Thompson talked about how willpower is a finite resource. Some people are genetically predisposed to have more willpower, particularly around food. She likened willpower unto a battery pack. Your willpower is naturally depleted through the daily decisions you make – even just checking your email can deplete your decision making capacity! You’re making all these decisions and it limits your ability to use your willpower, you just kind of run out.

I thought that was so interesting because when you’re dieting, you rely so much on willpower to stay away from the “bad foods” and to eat the “good foods” even though you don’t really like eating them.

What I took away from this talk is that willpower is a product of good self-care. Which I love. Dr. Thompson talked about things you can do to replenish your willpower: sleep, social support, prayer, meditation, gratitude, and service. I agree with all of those things. Essentially, those things are caring for yourself!

If you’re feeling depleted willpower wise, you can call up a friend and that will replenish your battery pack! You are giving yourself the ability to make better decisions by reaching out to someone who cares for you.

Or getting enough sleep! Sleep is so important, and when you don’t get enough sleep it is pretty much impossible to make good decisions about food because you’re running on empty.

But it’s not like we all need more willpower and if you run out you should go to the willpower store and buy some more because if you don’t have enough you’re a failure. If you don’t have enough willpower to do what you want to do, you need to care for yourself better.

Get enough sleep, be well rested, reach out to others, pray, reach out to God, meditate – really connect with your spirituality. If you are disconnected spiritually from God, you won’t have willpower to avoid the brownies. It may sound like they’re not connected but they definitely are.

I just loved this talk. If you feel like you’re a failure with a lack of willpower to avoid XYZ (bad food), stop that line of thinking. Really, if you don’t have enough willpower, there are things you can do, and all in the name of caring for yourself. Caring for your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. That will give you more willpower.

She talked about how when you build more self-discipline, it has a domino effect. Let’s say you decide to get more sleep and that’s your goal. Then you wake up well rested, and you have time to make a good breakfast, and you have time and energy to get the laundry done and get the kids to school on time. So it domino effects in a positive way, that if you take care of yourself in one aspect, it will spill over and you will automatically be taking care of yourself in other ways.

I will talk more about willpower because I think it’s a misunderstood concept with weight loss and really health and nutrition overall. Really what I wanted to say is that there are things you can do to build up your willpower, and it’s all about taking better care of yourself.

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