Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice: That’s What Will Power is Made Of

So my darlings, it turns out that my instincts about will power were spot-on.

I wrote that will power is a precious, fleeting and unsustainable resource. (I also wrote ‘eff will power’ but that is entirely beside my current point.)

Turns out…it is! My folk wisdom (ahem) has been validated by new (to me) research.

According to Roy F. Baumeister, PhD (and summarized handily by Kelly McGonigal),

  • will power is NOT a personality trait that you either have or sadly lack;
  • will power is a physiological ‘mind-body’ response to challenge that is much like your fight or fight instincts (visceral and temporary); and
  • will power is limited and, like a vampire, drains your body’s physical energy resources.

In fact, will power literally tires you out. Exerting will power requires glucose – and lots of it – which triggers a drop in blood sugar, which in turn causes whole body fatigue.

What does all of this mean? It goes like this, dear reader:

First, dieters are hooped. Need to bolster your resolve not to eat sweets? Eat a sugary snack. Son of a biscuit, how unfair is that?

Second, when trying to accomplish your goals, it helps to get your diet right. Dips in blood sugar sap your ability to summon will power. Complex carbs, protein, lots of small meals keep your blood sugar stable so that when you need a hit of will power, your glucose resources are ready and willing.

Third, conserve your will power resources. Set up your life so that you do not need to muscle through it – that way when you really need it, you can tap into it and the sweet syrup of will power will flow.

Fourth, and most importantly, I was right! I was right ! I was right!

Told you so.

About the author

Kelly Diels I'm Kelly Diels. I'm a writer, the founder of Cleavage (The Lines that Shape Us), and I wrote this blog post just for you. You can also find me on Twitter and darlin', please do. xoxo, K

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