A little rant about willpower

(I was going to write a lovely post today about my seasonal Reboots and why you should join, but that’ll have to wait.)

I’m going to have to have a little rant instead about willpower.

(and why hoping that it will save your skin as you try a new diet, or as you try to quit something for January is a really bad idea.)

I was prompted into having this little rant by something I saw at the petrol station today.

I was standing there, minding my own business (while waiting for my hubby to finish filling the car with our first fill up of the year) when I happened to glance, quite accidentally, at the chocolate section.

The usual crappy stuff was there – tasty looking nibbles placed there to tempt you into a last minute ‘grab and go’ as you wait for your turn – but I also noticed something else. Something which had clearly been put there on purpose because it was HUGE.

It was a display of mini Easter Eggs.

You blooming well read that right.

Mini Eggs. You know; the ones with the crispy shell which you buy AT EASTER to nibble on when the children/other half isn’t watching.

Don’t get me wrong. Easter Eggs (and the mini variety) are grand. They are made of chocolate, and taste good, which is why I like to eat them.

AT EASTER.

Not 7 days after Christmas.

Not 1 day into the New Year.

Now, I get it. I am a business owner. I understand that you have to ‘sell your stuff’ if you want to earn money. I totally get it that chocolate companies have to plan ahead, and prep their customers.

Fine.

Honkey dory.

But this display of Easter Eggs is what will screw up your willpower.

And here’s why:

We all have plenty of willpower. Some more than others. But we all have some.

What we don’t have is an infinite tank of willpower.

We have a limited amount available to us at any one time.

When we use up some willpower on one thing, it doesn’t automatically get replaced.

It takes energy to replace willpower stores.

(and I’m not talking the kind of energy which uses up those excess calories you drank on New Years Eve)

I’m talking the kind of energy – call it emotional energy if you like – which is really valuable to us.

The kind of energy that you really want to be using on enjoying life, loving your children, thinking about clever ways to do your job, planning holidays or adventures or even just on cool cinematic films.

When you waste it on re-stocking your willpower stores, you just don’t have enough left to enjoy life.

The problem I have isn’t necessarily with the company selling the mini easter eggs. (although, heck, it would be a lot easier for people to eat better if stuff like that wasn’t be waved in their faces every time they stop for petrol)

The problem I have is that the world we live in is full to the BRIM with temptations. All the time. Everywhere.

So if you are hoping to rely on willpower to help you eat better, you are going to struggle.

Maybe not right now, because morale and resolve are high after Christmas, but give it a few weeks, or a month or two, when willpower stores are low, and things aren’t quite as easy. Feeling deprived, or annoyed, or fed up with ‘missing out’ on the good stuff is really common after a few months on a diet, and that’s when things start to go pear shaped.

It’s why I 100% don’t believe that a diet, or ‘clean eating plan’ which requires you to use up your willpower is useful in the long term. Learning about what works for you, and what doesn’t, and changing things up as life, and the seasons change, it the best way to eat better.

Which is why, while everyone else is starting a diet, I’m encouraging you to just eat a bit better.

  • Eat foods which work for you.
  • Fill up on the ones which your body needs.
  • Eat less of the foods which don’t.

Which might mean having extra veg at lunch time.

And saving chocolate for the weekends.

But it doesn’t mean ‘giving it up forever’ or ‘being good by not having any until I’ve lost 12lbs’.

The minute you quit something, you are using up a huge amount of willpower to avoid it.

So do yourself a favour, and stop hoping that willpower will save your skin.

Because it won’t.

 

If you like the idea of joining an amazing group of people who are all busy learning how to eat better without using willpower, join the my Seasonal Reboot – it’s here, it’s for you and it’ll save you another year of wondering what you should eat.

7 thoughts on “A little rant about willpower

    • I agree – even if you have loads of willpower, using it all up trying to avoid something is such a drain. There are loads of better uses for our energy!

  1. I no longer go on diets but try to eat healthily, I’m not giving in to peer pressure and going dry for January but instead going back to my pre Christmas routine of only drinking alcohol at the weekends or for special occasions. A lack of will power is demoralising. Took me until I was 40 to work that out. I hope others read this and put themselves out of their misery.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment! I’m glad it resonates and I totally agree that trying to rely on willpower will leave you feeling completely demoralised. Saving the treaty stuff for weekends is a great way to go – that’s pretty much what we do in our family (most of the time!)

  2. It took me a long time to realise that energy is actually currency – and you can spend/waste/earn/invest it the same way you can cold hard cash. “Being good” is a useless mindset, ridden with connotations of deprivation and guilt, and for me only undermines people’s sense of self satisfaction in the long run. I find it much more constructive personally to view the mini eggs as a waste of energy, that actually is going to make me feel more tired in the long run, that just isn’t worth it.

    Sorry I’m ranting too now!

    • Rant away – glad to see that it rings a bell with you! I tend to see the crappy yet tempting things as just not worthy. If I am going to eat chocolate, it freaking well better be good enough for me!

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