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Self-control is a limited resource, and what this means for your diet

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Replies

  • ccruz985
    ccruz985 Posts: 646 Member
    That's an interesting take on it and I am inclined to agree. You can't quit everything cold turkey; change one meal a day, add one exercise a day. When these become natural to you and a part of your lifestyle, change something else. One by one, these small changes add up to a real big change. It's not as much self-control when it's how you live.
  • theresejesu
    theresejesu Posts: 120 Member
    ugofatcat wrote: »
    On the other hand, if you pick one thing to change and just focus on that, you won’t deplete your self-control as quickly, and it will be easier to maintain this change. Once this change becomes a habit and it no longer takes self-control, ...

    I like this concept. I tend towards all or nothing at many things. Either I'm all in and everything goes perfectly, or a small slip up and I'm done for the day.

    It wasn't enough to run marathons, no I had to start iron man triathlon training and forget the shorter swim distances until I'm trained and ready. That was a disaster.

    So back to the point, YES, one habit at a time. Ok maybe 2, right now I've quit Facebook until Labor Day and I'm starting daily abdominal work. So far so good.

    Mayve this was said already, but with each new habit, to focus on its repetition for 30 days before moving to the next seems to be the best way to develop and reinforce them.
  • fjmartini
    fjmartini Posts: 1,149 Member
    I use constraints instead of restraints. It's worked well for every aspect of my life. I have ADHD and I sometimes can't do what I know I should do. It's strange (ADHD people probably know what I mean) but if I relied solely on restraints, even on adderall, I still wouldn't do what I should do. I likely research a pointless topic for 10 solid hours. So try constraints instead of restraints and see how it works.
  • richardgavel
    richardgavel Posts: 1,000 Member
    tomteboda wrote: »
    I completely disagree that self-control is a limited resource. It is a manifestation of the habit and practice of self-discipline and conscious action, things that are increasingly unpopular for people to cultivate. We live in a culture of self-indulgence and I don't think people understand or value self-discipline and restraint very much any more at all.

    See I think the opposite. I think habit is the result of exercising active self control and as you build a habit, it takes less self control to maintain that habit.
  • Need2Exerc1se
    Need2Exerc1se Posts: 13,577 Member
    edited July 2017
    tomteboda wrote: »
    I completely disagree that self-control is a limited resource. It is a manifestation of the habit and practice of self-discipline and conscious action, things that are increasingly unpopular for people to cultivate. We live in a culture of self-indulgence and I don't think people understand or value self-discipline and restraint very much any more at all.

    See I think the opposite. I think habit is the result of exercising active self control and as you build a habit, it takes less self control to maintain that habit.

    Yes, I agree with this. If it requires much thought and self control then it is not habit. Habit is behavior that requires self control to break, not to maintain.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    tomteboda wrote: »
    I completely disagree that self-control is a limited resource. It is a manifestation of the habit and practice of self-discipline and conscious action, things that are increasingly unpopular for people to cultivate. We live in a culture of self-indulgence and I don't think people understand or value self-discipline and restraint very much any more at all.

    See I think the opposite. I think habit is the result of exercising active self control and as you build a habit, it takes less self control to maintain that habit.

    Yeah, I agree with this, and I think that's generally the idea behind changing something from that which requires lots of self control to it being a habit (so you don't have to rely on self control if it's used up).

    I find this to be accurate in my own life.
  • CSARdiver
    CSARdiver Posts: 6,257 Member
    Motorsheen wrote: »
    ugofatcat wrote: »
    If you have 5 minutes, please watch this video.


    My takeaway is that you only get so much self-control for the day, and once you use it up, it is easy to fall back into old bad habits. When you try to change a bunch of things in your life, it is easy to get discouraged easily and give up because you run out of self-control quickly.

    On the other hand, if you pick one thing to change and just focus on that, you won’t deplete your self-control as quickly, and it will be easier to maintain this change. Once this change becomes a habit and it no longer takes self-control, add another change.

    Agree or disagree? Has this been your experience with weight loss? Did you change things gradually, or make a whole bunch of changes overnight?

    Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    my take? well, at the risk of sounding like a *kitten* ( a risk I'm willing to take ).....

    I try not to overthink life. If I want something, I work to achieve it.

    Just work hard and work smart and don't listen to folks who might like to see you fail.

    I don't believe in luck; it's for suckers.

    Is will power a limited resource? dunno... don't know & don't care & if it is, then: so what?
    just buck-up and get that much more determined.

    If you want something bad enough, you won't let something like diminished will power derail you, right?

    One of my all time favorite quotes:

    “Things worthwhile generally don’t just happen. Luck is a fact, but should not be a factor. Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best. Negligence or indifference are usually reviewed from an unlucky seat. The law of cause and effect and causality both work the same with inexorable exactitudes. Luck is the residue of design.” - Branch Rickey
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,736 Member
    CSARdiver wrote: »
    Motorsheen wrote: »
    ugofatcat wrote: »
    If you have 5 minutes, please watch this video.


    My takeaway is that you only get so much self-control for the day, and once you use it up, it is easy to fall back into old bad habits. When you try to change a bunch of things in your life, it is easy to get discouraged easily and give up because you run out of self-control quickly.

    On the other hand, if you pick one thing to change and just focus on that, you won’t deplete your self-control as quickly, and it will be easier to maintain this change. Once this change becomes a habit and it no longer takes self-control, add another change.

    Agree or disagree? Has this been your experience with weight loss? Did you change things gradually, or make a whole bunch of changes overnight?

    Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    my take? well, at the risk of sounding like a *kitten* ( a risk I'm willing to take ).....

    I try not to overthink life. If I want something, I work to achieve it.

    Just work hard and work smart and don't listen to folks who might like to see you fail.

    I don't believe in luck; it's for suckers.

    Is will power a limited resource? dunno... don't know & don't care & if it is, then: so what?
    just buck-up and get that much more determined.

    If you want something bad enough, you won't let something like diminished will power derail you, right?

    One of my all time favorite quotes:

    “Things worthwhile generally don’t just happen. Luck is a fact, but should not be a factor. Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best. Negligence or indifference are usually reviewed from an unlucky seat. The law of cause and effect and causality both work the same with inexorable exactitudes. Luck is the residue of design.” - Branch Rickey

    I like that. I've usually put it this way(probably attributable to about 3 different people)

    Good luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. Opportunity knocks just about every day. You get lucky whenever you open the door.
  • nvmomketo
    nvmomketo Posts: 12,019 Member
    I switched to a diet that required very little self control. It circumvented that problem.
  • asviles
    asviles Posts: 56 Member
    My take is simple. Everything with the human body and mind works the same way as exercise. The more you work at it, the more efficient you become. Your brain wires connections through repetition. Just like practicing piano or playing a video game, the more you do it, the faster you brain becomes at performing the functions. I believe that mental endurance can be trained in exactly this same way. Someone whose always been in a high stress fast paced job will be a marathon thinker. They will be able to make the hard choice over and over again because they do that all day long. Take someone from your average work environment and challenge them to make the right choice over and over and they will burn themselves out, possibly even "over train" and end up causing themselves mental anguish or reverting to very unhealthy food and exercise choices.

    The secret here is to intentionally practice making good choices. Pull out a snickers bar and leave it in plain sight all day long on your desk at work. Look at it and make a conscious decision not to eat it. After a while, the sight of sugary treats will be as boring as the box of tissues and the stress ball you keep by your computer.

    Do the same thing with exercise. Set an alarm on your phone. When it goes off mentally say to yourself, "I choose to ignore my impulses and work out anyway, because next time it will be easier."

    Become a Do It Now person by way of constant vigilence. I believe in self control being a limited resource but I believe you can train your brain to have more of it.
  • gradchica27
    gradchica27 Posts: 777 Member
    I bough Charlotte Mason's book on habit training to use with my kids, but it's applicable to any habit for adults too. Basically she says work on one habit for 6-8 weeks. Figure out what will trigger your new habit (i.e., your workout clothes laid out on the dresser, your prepped meal in the fridge, or the inverse--driving by McDonald's is your trigger to stop and eat bc that's what you've been doing.) So you need to add a new triggers or remove the old ones. And perform your new habit every single time. Miss one and your clock starts again.

    Eventually the habit will be automatic and you won't even think of it (she likens habits to railroad tracks--you build your tracks and many parts of your life go without having to think about doing certain things--thereby conserving your finite willpower for important things or new challenges).

    Anyway, I agree that mental energy is limited. After a week of planning and decision making for me and four kids (everything from what math curriculum to use to how to perform the necessary science experiments to meal planning to everyone's schedule logistics, etc) I'm done. Done. Ask me what we're eating on Saturday and you'll get a blank stare. Or ready meal from Costco.
  • Lola_Mercury
    Lola_Mercury Posts: 25 Member
    This is a brilliant concept. Thank you
  • purplebobkat
    purplebobkat Posts: 68 Member
    I agree.

    I don't exercise(yet) because i tend not to do well on my diet when i exercise. So I'm focussed ob diet which works for me.

    When I'm at a healthy weight & can go to maintenance cals I'll start to exercise.... Which will hopefully help me maintain.

    I obviously still do normal stuff like walking, but made a conscious choice not to go to the gym yet.

    I realise this is probably a diversive view but was wondering if anyone else does this??
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,736 Member
    I agree.

    I don't exercise(yet) because i tend not to do well on my diet when i exercise. So I'm focussed ob diet which works for me.

    When I'm at a healthy weight & can go to maintenance cals I'll start to exercise.... Which will hopefully help me maintain.

    I obviously still do normal stuff like walking, but made a conscious choice not to go to the gym yet.

    I realise this is probably a diversive view but was wondering if anyone else does this??

    Perhaps your "diet" is too restrictive and your assessment of caloric burn is too high.
  • purplebobkat
    purplebobkat Posts: 68 Member
    My diet isnt restrictive. And i don't assess cals burnt??
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    I find that exercising makes me more able to control my diet, I tend to do it naturally when I am working out, since I can see how what I eat makes a difference to energy level and how I feel. More significantly, I find healthy behaviors take less willpower when, in my mind, they are about being healthy or good to myself and not about just getting thin (or not being fat). Since I think exercise is one of the most important things for health, that also means it's one of the first things I prioritize. I also find I FEEL better when I am more active, and when I feel better I eat better (less tendency to stress eat, better ways of handling emotions, more energy).

    What I find frustrating is when people make a huge thing about one type of diet (eating lower carb or super "clean" or whatever) as if that was so significant to health and ignore something that is likely more important to health, exercise. But that may not be what you are saying, @purplebobkat, it's just something I've seen. I think you do need to focus on what makes it easier and more sustainable for you, and if that is getting the eating nailed down before focusing on exercise, that's what works for you.

    One thing I did when first starting out: start slowly with exercise, as if I was super ambitious I'd burn out (since I was out of shape) and I wanted it to be pleasant at first when building a habit, so I started with only 30 min, 3-4 days a week, which didn't seem overwhelming (and of course as much walking in my daily life as possible). I also did not address the fact I was overconsuming coffee, since it was black and not a diet problem, and doing too much at once would have been difficult for me. (I also normally give up meat for Lent and that year -- I started my weight loss efforts at the end of January -- I decided not to add any food-related restrictions beyond the required ones (for my religion meatless Fridays and the few fast days) because I was doing well with my deficit. I did all non food related things instead.)
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,736 Member
    My diet isnt restrictive. And i don't assess cals burnt??

    Then how are you calculating your caloric allowance and deficit?
  • kristen8000
    kristen8000 Posts: 747 Member
    In 2011 I weighed 193lbs and I was miserable. But I was lazy, loved food/beer/wine and really wasn't ready to make a "total haul" to all my loves. So, I chipped away slowly, changing habits. Now I'm 142. Even though I've been up and down 20lbs a couple of times over the last 6 years, I've actually kept most of those good habits. Some sneak back when I'm not paying attention, but for the most part I know how to moderate now.

    Oh, and becoming lactose intolerate has helped the ice cream, pizza and mac and cheese binges. LOL