Ask people to name their greatest strengths and they’ll often credit themselves with honesty, kindness, humor, creativity and even modesty — but not self-control,’ write Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney in their book Willpower: Rediscovering The Greatest Human Strength.
Conversely, when people were asked about their failings, a lack of self-control was top of the list.’
It’s true isn’t it. We live in a world filled with temptations and distractions. It’s too easy to say: ‘Oh I’ll finish this work later, after I’ve checked Facebook, looked at Twitter and had a search of the internet.’
So what can be done — is it possible to learn willpower? Baumeister and Tierney say yes.
Cravings can be beaten by controlling glucose levels and sleep habits. Self-control is about more than just saying no to things. Their findings show the moments when our glucose levels are at their lowest are the moments when we make poor decisions or fail to get anything done. The lower our blood sugar levels, the angrier we feel and, in turn, the less control we have over our actions.
In one test, subjects were split into two groups. One was given lemonade mixed with sugar, the other a drink with diet sweetener. Both were then told to play a computer game. As the game got harder, those who had sipped the drink with sugar grumbled mildly, but kept playing, while those who had the diet drink ‘started cursing and banging the computer’. Sound familiar???
It’s not our levels of tiredness and aggression which are affected by low blood sugar. According to the book, using the part of our brain that determines self-control uses up more of our body’s glucose supplies than normal. This causes us to crave sweet things to replenish our blood sugar levels. We know this is bad news if we’re trying to lose weight and explains why healthy eating plans can be so hard to stick to.
Another key factor is when we eat it. Glucose depletion can turn even the most charming companion into a monster,’ write the authors. ‘The old advice about eating a good breakfast applies all day long, particularly on days when you’re physically or mentally stressed.
‘Don’t get into an argument with your boss four hours after lunch. Don’t thrash out serious problems with your partner just before dinner.’
The book claims if we want to improve our resolve, our sleeping habits need to be altered as well — those who sleep longer at night have more willpower as they are more rested.
HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR WILLPOWER
- Know your limits. Your supply of willpower is limited so you may start each day with a renewed stock, but things will gradually deplete it.
- If you sense your glucose levels are low, reach for a low GI snack, such as a handful of blueberries or nuts.
- Pick your battles. You can’t control the stresses in your life, but you can make sure you’re not trying to diet at the same time as giving up alcohol and starting a new job.
- Don’t get stuck in a routine. To break a habit like smoking, do it on holiday when you’re far away from the people, places and events you associate with cigarettes.
- When you set a goal, have a reward for reaching it. Never underestimate how little it takes to motivate.
- Remember, what matters is the exertion not the outcome. If you struggle with temptation and then give in, your reserves of willpower are still depleted because you struggled.
So can you rediscover your willpower with this book? Many readers say YES. They spent seven days following its rules — sleeping eight hours a night, eating healthily and keeping a food diary and prioritizing the things they found most important. But, by the end of the first week, most said they felt healthier and happier. And, the best part, they lost a few pounds.
The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says,”there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.