Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Limit of Willpower

So, after saying that I wanted to “Go boot camp on this shit,” my goals may seem a little weak. I’m going to journal four times a week, and exercise every other day. No weight loss goal. No rep-increase goal, just having the routine.

There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it’s the consistency that’s the goal. I started exercising in the New Year, and sometimes, I could keep it to every other day, more often, once or twice a week. On occasion, there were 10-day gaps. This is the problem I’m trying to solve.

Also, I am 41. Trying to push myself too hard is likely to lead to injury. Not only is it more important to keep functioning for my job, but also to be able to play with (and pick up) my kids.

It’s also smarter to implement goals gradually. While some people can change their habits on a dime, most people don’t. One of the causes of this is what some researchers have found about the limits of willpower. Roy Baumeister did a study where participants were asked to eat radishes, and not the fresh-baked cookies (Roy, you sick FUCK!). These poor souls gave up on the following puzzle long before the ones who were told “Radishes? Pfft! Have a cookie!”

In fact, Dr Baumeister has done a lot of study, and found that not only can willpower be depleted, but it can be strengthened with effort and practice. I have yet to read his book “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,” but it sounds promising!

As for me, there was a time a few years ago when I found that my patience with my kid was less than ideal. Upon reflection, I found that I had been spending a lot of my patience at work, mostly on a particularly odious shit-wit. I decided that my family was WAY more important than this turd, so I started letting him know when he was pissing on my nerves (I totally mis-typed this, but on re-read, I like how it sounds, so it’s staying as “pissing on my nerves!”) I later found that this was consistent with Mark Murovan’s (University of Albany) finding that the self-motivated & self-regulated got less drained than people-pleasers. I didn’t make him look like an idiot, but I sure made it clear when he was making himself look like an idiot. It was a public service that was more popular before the age of participation trophies. (Anyone remember when “he didn’t suffer fools lightly” was a complement?) But I digress…

Asides from these factors, I expect to spend a fair amount of time maintaining the blog and FB page. Not to mention my family, and a full-time job. So, if my exercise and journaling goals seem a little weak, it’s all part of a bigger picture.



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