Can Will power be Trained?

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Can Will power be Trained?

According to British psychologist Richard Wiseman, 88 percent of all resolutions end in failure. Why? Stanford University recently conducted and experiment that divided students into two groups. The first group was given a two digit number to remember and the other group was given a seven digit number to remember. Then they were told to walk down the hall, where they were presented with two different snack options: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad. Oddly enough, the people who had to remember the seven digit number were twice as likely to eat the cake as the fruit salad. The reason, according to Professor Shiv, is that those extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain” they were a "cognitive load” making it that much harder to resist a decadent dessert. In other words, willpower is so weak, and the prefrontal cortex is so overtaxed, that all it takes is five extra bits of information before the brain starts to give in to temptation. The conclusion of the study is that as human beings, willpower is a commodity in our brains that each one of us only has in certain amounts. So what do we do? Temptation is all over the place and each one of us has a variable ability to resist it. According to psychologists, we can train our willpower. First thing is, don't look back. If you don't do something you should have, don't beat yourself up over it. It's done. You WILL do it tomorrow. The second thing is to make sure you do a little something every day that makes a habit out of something that is good for you. Habits you don't have to think about, trying to suddenly go on a “health kick” doing twenty things a day that you haven't been doing in months is a failure waiting to happen. Don't try and go completely without sweets if you're addicted, eat your sweets at certain times of day. One piece of dark chocolate after breakfast has been shown to curb cravings. Every day, go further into the day without junk. Schedule your junk food to satisfy your cravings, but don't yourself “that's it; I'm never eating ice cream again.” Again, resolutions, particularly those made without an end are usually setting yourself up for failure. The same goes for exercise. Personally, though I have some stuff with which to exercise at home, I like going to the gym because just the act of driving there makes me get off the couch. If I'm feeling tired and lazy, I go and ride the recumbent bike (the one where you sit in a seat that has a back) and set it really low. My body doesn't get much of a workout, but I still keep the habit of going to the gym and working out. What do YOU do to try and keep healthy habits, to train your willpower? Let me know and share it with the rest of us. I need all the help I can get.


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Hi Brian, I have had type two diabetes for 20 years. When I was diagnosed, I decided I could either get depressed or become the healthiest diabetic around. Getting depressed didn't appeal to me, so I went to work becoming as healthy as possible. I have succeeded. Then I decided I couldn't do anything about getting old either. Getting depressed still didn't appeal to me so I decided to make a science out of getting old. I am 74 years old, I have a diabetic bakery, do farmers markets. Just put up a web store. if you would like to see it and me and my story. My advice is TAKE CHARGE. of whatever life hands you. Make a project out of it. Become an expert. It is all about the ATTITUDE! I swim laps twice a week and do weight machines 3 days a week. I feel as If I am 40 years old, but if I don't do weights for two weeks, I become 74. You lose 30% of your muscle by age 70. But you don't have to.

Dec 03, 2012 - 7:23 PM by Rosalie M

Thank You David. As a result of my taking charge of my diabetes, I have learned much about diabetes and food. Much of the information out there about food for diabetics is incorrect not helpful and not based on science. That is in spite of the fact that it is promoted by the "experts". It took me almost 10 years to figure that out. I am hoping to start a discussion about what is wrong and what is right. I called the American Diabetes Association and ask them about the science behind what they teach. They told me they have done no research. Then I ask them how they came up with the food instructions they promote. They said they have a panel of dietitions that make the food rules. I called the American Dietitian Association and ask them the same question. They said they have done no research either. I have done the research. When a diabetic comes to understand the correct infomation regarding the food they eat. They more often succeed in getting their blood glucose under control and can lose weight.

Dec 04, 2012 - 11:51 AM by Rosalie M

Rosalie - Congrats on become the healthiest diabetic around - Way to Go! And the part about getting old, I'll second that! I cant wait to check out as I am sure I will find lots of great things there. As you point out - TAKE CHARGE its all about the ATTITUDE.

Dec 04, 2012 - 7:53 AM by David D

I think it's important to find a form of exercise that you truly enjoy, whether it's going for a walk after dinner like Dave said, playing a certain sport, yoga, or any kind of training. For me, it's kung fu - I've been doing it for the past 9 years usually about 5 days a week for 2 hours. At a certain point your body changes and you need to move and stretch as much as you need to eat or use the bathroom. Once you get to that point then it's just natural. I think if you're doing something you enjoy, it shouldn't be hard to get there. Our master says nothing is easy, or nothing is difficult, it all depends on your understanding.

Nov 08, 2012 - 12:52 PM by Chris W

Brian - Very interesting story here and one that I am sure many of us can relate to. I personally try to exercise 5 times a week or so. It works best for me when I do it in the morning before work as sometimes my day gets a little crazy. I have tried hitting the gym late at night (after 8pm) but I really have a difficult time motivating myself to maintain that schedule. I guess the good news here is that I don't have any issues getting out of bed early to get an hour on the elliptical machine. I do the elliptical mainly for heart health as well as weight control and the fact that it is low resistance on your joints is also an added benefit in my opinion. I really think that a lot of resolutions fail because others or society impose what our resolutions should look like. An example is that if someone is going to begin exercising for better health, many people feel that they have to join a gym. While that can have many benefits, so can taking a walk after dinner can as well. Now the part about not "looking back or beating yourself up" over not getting in a workout on a day when you wanted to. I must say that I do feel a little bad about myself if I don't get that workout in. I feel like I may have let myself down in some way! Your research and point about this is a good one and I will try not to get so down on myself if I slip a day or two. Thanks again for sharing this with our healtheo360 community and as always - Be Well. Dave

Oct 11, 2012 - 8:21 AM by David D

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