The need for willpower

Did you know that Glucose is a substance that is vital for maintaining willpower? Willpower is the effort we make to control our impulsive behaviour. Many of you reading this will be avid exercisers or the type of person who wishes to stay both healthy and balanced, pay close attention to what I am about to say, following on from my blog on acting on impulse.

Did you know that your brain uses up a lot of energy daily? It is approximately 20 percent of the total energy that your body consumes from you daily food intake. Research suggests that using ones ‘willpower’ actually lowers blood sugar, which in turn reduces the capacity for self control. Your brain uses up a lot of energy and this mixed with a calorie deficit due to ‘dieting’, which is so not healthy for your body, will reduce glucose levels. The glucose which comes from food consumption, does not enter the brain but is converted to neurotransmitters like serotonin. A reduction in the amount of glucose within in the body creates a neurotransmitters deficit, leading to a lack of willpower. Neurotransmitters are needed to keep impulsivity at bay. A lack of neurotransmitters increases impulsivity.

Being a Personal Trainer who suffers from ‘hypoglycaemia’ – low blood sugar, I have to eat, at least once every 4 hours. If I don’t my blood sugar drops too low and I have trouble concentrating. I find it hard to control my negative emotions, in a situation where I may be provoked and have low blood sugar. For this reason, and the fact that I love my general positivity as a person, I have learnt to consciously maintain my blood sugar to avoid such situations.

Just as we need our blood sugar to be kept constant for our bodies to work efficiently, we need to conserve Willpower, it is a ‘resource’. With this in mind then, one would believe that acts of self control are drawn from a limited resource of ‘will’. This is depleted over time, just as a muscle becomes tired following a long stint of exercise. The depletion of ‘will’ gives rise to acting on impulse, you may therefore be more swayed by desires, urges and cravings. If, like I do, you treat willpower as an important and limited resource, you will begin to focus on one project at a time. All your effort on one, or at most a few, goals, at a time will make you far more successful. Its been said that “He who grasps at too much loses all”. Self control can be increased through practice and training. Try daily to engage in simple self control exercises, such as avoiding unhealthy foods. This will lead to maintaining the ‘new’ behaviour, on a long term basis.

Learn to conserve your will power, keep the negative acts of impulsivity at bay by reprogramming and increasing your levels of self control.

I challenge you to give it a go, see the result, and to write to me about it.

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