Willpower, motivation, and failure are inextricably linked. In looking at these three aspects of human behavior we can better understand how to achieve our health and fitness goals and minimize the risk of failure.
There is a good deal of research that suggests we have a reserve of willpower that is controlled by the pre-frontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is also responsible for tasks that require us to problem solve and focus. In today’s hyper-competitive and busy society, we are constantly performing tasks that require us to problem solve and focus. The issue is we put so much demand on our prefrontal cortex during our work day, when it comes to making decisions such as eating healthy or working out, we have lost our willpower or motivation. Think about the last time you had a super busy or stressful day at work. When you came home from work, if you were presented with a cookie or a carrot, how many of you would take the cookie?
One study placed participants into a room with radishes, cookies, and an unsolvable problem. Half of the participants were told to eat whatever they liked. The other half was told to refrain from the cookies. The group that had to use their willpower to refrain from eating the cookies stopped working on the problem within 8 minutes, whereas the group that did not need to utilize their willpower continued for an average of 20 minutes. Another study had participants recall either a list of just two numbers or a long list of random numbers. They were then presented with the choice of eating a cookie or fruit. The participants that had to memorize the long list of numbers were twice as likely to choose the cookie over the fruit.
From these studies we know that when our prefrontal cortex is taxed from daily decision making it becomes harder to rely on willpower. We all know that in order to reach our fitness goals we need to work out, hydrate, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep. We know what to do but the HOW is not as easy. So how do we do it?
We must understand our situation. We cannot rely on willpower alone. We must have accountability. We must take the necessary steps to account for the days that it is so much easier to grab fast food than it is to cook a healthy meal or sit on the couch than go to the gym.
This is how we can help at Genesis. You make hard decisions all day. You don’t need to go to the gym and make more decisions on what type of exercise you should do and then rely on more willpower to do the hard exercises that you know you should do. Come into Genesis and just be present. Rely on us to guide you through scientific training principles to help you reach your fitness goals. Let us take the guesswork out of nutrition. We will have you sit down with one of our nutrition coaches who will form action steps to help you adhere to your customized diet plan. No more contemplating what type of food you should be eating, how much you should be eating, or what you should buy at the grocery store. When it comes to training and nutrition we will do the heavy lifting, so you can stay the course, and focus all your efforts on obtaining your goals!