Where’s Your Willpower, Dude?
Have you ever felt that you are in a constant battle with your body? That it wants nothing more than to lose muscle and gain fat, when you want it to do the exact opposite?
And no time more than when you’ve been heeding the advice of your favorite health guru to eat less and exercise more?
You’re not alone in your frustration. It all comes down to willpower. And more specifically, the lack thereof.
Running on Empty
Imagine this scenario: due to a worldwide shortage of fossil fuels, the government mandates that you can only fill up the gas tank of your car once every month, on the first Saturday.
Since very few people can make a tank of gas last that long, you will need to carefully allocate your car usage. Walking, biking, and public transportation will probably start playing a bigger role in your daily life. And when you do get to drive, you will want to use the most efficient route to get all your errands done.
Fuel and Willpower
More and more evidence is coming out illustrating that willpower is a lot like gasoline in that hypothetical world: a scarce commodity that, once utilized, is gone forever.
I’ve posted this video before, but it is worth seeing again:
You should also check out this article, which further brings the issue of limited willpower to light.
It even plays a major role in why most people don’t have their financial lives together, as Ramit Sethi explains in this recent New York Times article.
In my last post, I brought up the concept of the conscious and unconscious minds. Willpower acts as the scarce “fuel” of your conscious mind, while the unconscious runs on a vast amount of “renewable energy” in the form of instincts and habits.
The reason that “eat less, exercise more” doesn’t work is that it puts all the responsibility on the conscious part of your mind, all the while fighting a grueling battle with the unconscious, which is almost always a losing battle.
The Missing Key to Your Health and Fitness
I don’t see many health and fitness experts talking about what a key concept this is, but I think it is huge.
The reason so many guys struggle to lose their beer bellies and start packing on muscle is obvious: they are burning all their willpower on other pursuits, and setting themselves up to struggle, and ultimately fail, at “eating less and exercising more.”
These two recommendations are essentially demands that you focus more of this scarce resource on your health and fitness.
But what if you are busy as hell with work, school, family, or other goals that use up your willpower? This is what most health gurus neglect.
The only reason the participants in The Minnesota Starvation Experiment lost so much weight on their “low calorie” nutrition and exercise program was because they were forced to stick with it every day! They lived under close watch on the University campus and had all their meals prepared by others and given to them.
They had no choice, and therfore invested no willpower.
But the devastating health consequences these men experienced, including the rapid fat gain once they stopped the experiment, shows that we must not just look for another way to simply cut calories.
The key to getting into the best shape of your life lies not in conscious calorie restriction, but instead in:
- Transforming your surroundings to reduce harmful temptations.
- Building rituals that automatically promote and sustain your health and fitness.
- Making slow, steady progress every day.
This could very well be the cornerstone of the entire LMVM philosophy. Imagine being able to eat well, get plenty of exercise, and get lots of rest and relaxation, with as little willpower invested as possible. That’s the goal of this site, and I’ll be damned if you don’t get there if you keep following along!
The best health and fitness program must both:
- Give you the results you want (muscle growth, fat loss, etc.)
- Be sustainable long-term.
In this series, I have shown you that the conventional wisdom of conscious caloric restriction tends to violate that second condition, leaving you hungry and tired, zapping you of willpower, and resulting in a never-ending battle against your body.
Thankfully, there is a better way.
I’ve been throwing a lot of theory at you so far. But theories are only as good as they can be successfully applied in the real world.
In the next few installments, I’ll present you with ideas of how to eat better, move smarter, and relax harder to optimize your health and fitness as effortlessly as possible, without burning out of willpower!