This article is from a couple days ago. I think the point of it was that we in the U.S. are going to have to start reining in our consumer impulses - that in the face of recession and record levels of consumer debt, we have to learn about this elusive thing called "willpower" and just say no to the things we're accustomed to buying.
The reason why I'm posting it here is that there is a lot of it that's very, very applicable to those of us trying to lose weight. The article talks about the brain's "limited capacity for self-regulation" -- we each have a "store" of willpower, and when that's used up for the day, we end up with no willpower for seemingly unrelated tasks later on.
The article goes on to say that the combination of these two things - the fact that we need to rein in our spending and that our willpower is finite from day to day may actually mean that tighter economic times lead to looser
belts, expanding waistlines. Because when we say no to buying the latest iPod, it's harder to turn down that chocolate cake later on.
But there's light at the end of the tunnel - evidence suggests that long-term consistent usage of willpower stores does in the end increase our capacity for exercising willpower. (Yay!)
Here is a small quote from it, the link follows:
The brain’s store of willpower is depleted when people control their thoughts, feelings or impulses, or when they modify their behavior in pursuit of goals. Psychologist Roy Baumeister and others have found that people who successfully accomplish one task requiring self-control are less persistent on a second, seemingly unrelated task.
In one pioneering study, some people were asked to eat radishes while others received freshly baked chocolate chip cookies before trying to solve an impossible puzzle. The radish-eaters abandoned the puzzle in eight minutes on average, working less than half as long as people who got cookies or those who were excused from eating radishes. Similarly, people who were asked to circle every “e” on a page of text then showed less persistence in watching a video of an unchanging table and wall.
Other activities that deplete willpower include resisting food or drink, suppressing emotional responses, restraining aggressive or sexual impulses, taking exams and trying to impress someone. Task persistence is also reduced when people are stressed or tired from exertion or lack of sleep.
I can *definitely* see this kind of dynamic working in me, how about you?