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Fat Cell 7: Will Power


By D. Thea BaldrickPublished 8 months ago Updated 8 months ago 4 min read
Fat Cell 7: Will Power
Photo by visuals on Unsplash

I’ve been pushing exercise for both of us, but I am beginning to think I may have been wrong - at least in the early stages of habit changing. Kathryn and I have been talking about it and we looked some research up. Yes, exercise is important and amasses all sorts of benefits for weight loss and regaining health; but if it’s going to derail the efforts at changing eating habits, perhaps it's best to add it into one’s life a little later, after the healthier eating has been established.

And the science, compiled in a meta-analysis, backs this up. As it turns out, will power works like a muscle. It can get tired. Worse, the “ego depletion” can get even weaker if future self-control is expected. [1]

So if one has worked the will power muscle to do physical exercise in the morning, when it’s an effort because it’s far from habitual yet, and then goes into work and somebody shares cookies at lunchtime. It may be just too much. Hunger added to a tired will power equals "one cookie or three won’t kill me."

The good news is that like a muscle, will power can also get stronger with practice . . . [2]

Scale 187.8; down two pounds. 9.2 lbs lost from when I began seven weeks ago. Some of the habits I picked up, at least I hope they’re habits, seem to be working. Most mornings I eat half a big bowl of whole grain granola; the other half is filled with fruit and a sprinkling of flax or chia seeds and almond or oat milk - with coffee. I am afraid I have to have the coffee.

By Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Lunch is usually something interesting that I want to try, like the water and oats wrap. Talk about simple! Pour oats and water in a blender and blend until it’s the consistency of pancake batter. Toss it on a heated skillet (no oil!). It was a little bland so I added a little salt and later when I tossed in cooked split mung beans (moong dal) in the mix in the blender, it was delicious. I use it a lot - to dip in soups and salsa and hummus (anything with which I used to eat crackers) or use it as a wrap for veggies or potatoes with salsa (I like green salsa made with tomatillos).

About once every other day, I do what I’ve begun to call “produce pop-ins.” I pop into the grocery store, head straight for the produce section and snag whatever has been marked down. Sometimes if I won’t be home for a while, I’ll buy a bagged salad. It sometimes has stuff in it that isn’t great, but I’m shooting for 95% whole-grain, plant-based so if I am eating a bagged salad instead of going through a drive-through then it’s not a terrible thing.

I don’t stop eating until I am full, but it’s working anyway. Usually the last thing I eat is around four or five o’clock. Although I might eat a few grapes or have a bowl of vegetable or tomato soup if I am really hungry in the evening; but most of the time, I just have a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea, and go to bed around nine or ten o’clock. Unless I have a lot of writing work then I push it later.

By jay huang on Unsplash

Mostly I am just changing habits. The cheese and crackers kick I was on is gone; so is getting chicken-laced everything and the cravings for sweets has abated. For me, the best way to avoid cravings is just to make sure I don’t get too hungry. When I’m really hungry I don’t want a salad. I want a triple decker chocolate mousse cake with whipped cream, drowning in a Bourbon caramel sauce; and not one piece, the whole cake. It’s best if I avoid the hunger.

[1] Hagger MS, Wood C, Stiff C, Chatzisarantis NL. Ego depletion and the strength model of self-control: a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull. 2010 Jul;136(4):495-525. doi: 10.1037/a0019486. PMID: 20565167.

[2] Muraven M, Baumeister RF, Tice DM. Longitudinal improvement of self-regulation through practice: building self-control strength through repeated exercise. J Soc Psychol. 1999 Aug;139(4):446-57. doi: 10.1080/00224549909598404. PMID: 10457761.

dietfitnesshealthlifestyleself careweight loss

About the Creator

D. Thea Baldrick

By wedding two strange bedfellows, bachelor degrees in Biology and Literature, the resulting chimeric offspring are stories laced with science. I publish with thecollector.com and Underland Arcana. Unearth at dthea.com

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