"Past research indicates that self-control relies on some sort of limited energy source. This review suggests that blood glucose is one important part of the energy source of self-control. Acts of self-control deplete relatively large amounts of glucose. Self-control failures are more likely when glucose is low or cannot be mobilized effectively to the brain (i.e., when insulin is low or insensitive). Restoring glucose to a sufficient level typically improves self-control. Numerous self-control behaviors fit this pattern, including controlling attention, regulating emotions, quitting smoking, coping with stress, resisting impulsivity, and refraining from criminal and aggressive behavior. Alcohol reduces glucose throughout the brain and body and likewise impairs many forms of self-control. Furthermore, self-control failure is most likely during times of the day when glucose is used least effectively. Self-control thus appears highly susceptible to glucose. Self-control benefits numerous social and interpersonal processes. Glucose might therefore be related to a broad range of social behavior."
It doesn't quite prove what they are trying to prove (that self control and change are exhausting). They should have tried it with something else that was tempting and that was not food.
Ones who had their discipline taxed before the exercise performed dramatically worse than those who hadn't.
So that one had nothing to do with food and showed similar results.
Where would summary of these result be found?
Well, here's a couple
They might have actually done this.
Unfortunately, your false beliefs (exercise is pointless, exercise will make me feel bad, ordering a pizza will make me feel good, I'm not the kind of quality person who exercises and eats right anyway) start to come back when you stop exercising and eating right. I don't believe you can ever completely eradicate them. An addict is always an addict. For some reason, early-imprinted delusions are always more comfortable than our learned wisdom, and we tend to revert to them under stress. So the fight is never-ending, though happily it demands less self-discipline as time passes.
From what I've read, generally speaking weightloss from dieting/exercise is usually 1.5-2 stones then you put back on .5 stone. Some people then revert back to original weight as they adopt their previous lifestyle.
It's got little to do with beliefs and delusions, far more to do with treating losing weight as a temporary thing then reverting to a previous lifestyle, thinking all I have to do is eat a little less, drink a little less than I did once I'm x stone. They end the diet with 'and now I shall be good because I'm happy' without actually intending to change their original lifestyle. They never intended to keep up the diet indefinitely. So they never had a belief that a diet was how they should live the rest of their life, but made no serious attempt to change their lifestyle.
That's my impression of it anyway, having done this once to myself and now pondering on how I'm back to my original weight.
On a related note, I've certainly read of people saying that you can build up periods of concentration (e.g. in this instance it was writing), start slow with a couple of hours and build up every day and eventually you can work yourself up to long periods of time of concentration without noticing it. This is perhaps a habit changing method.
I don't know, I'm no expert, that's just my best guess.
Anyone who thinks dieting is a temporary state is doomed; it's easy to categorize that as a delusion.
Your mind has a natural anxiety about breaking habits (it's rather superstitious) and also a natural aversion to putting effort into anything. That's why it's so easy to do something when you have enthusiasm for it and so hard once the enthusiasm wears off: enthusiasm is essentially excitement based on the belief that something will generate positive results. I don't know why enthusiasm seems to peak quickly and then die off, but I treat it as an opportunity to form new habits and to educate myself through experiences that would be difficult to bring about otherwise because of my natural laziness. Most long-lasting changes in my life are the residual effects of waves of enthusiasm that carried me for a while and then subsided. I've never been able to make changes strictly incrementally; it's always three steps forward and one step back (which I guess is that .5 stone you're talking about.)
If you've never experienced it, the feeling of having zero thoughts in your head for an extended period of time is just absolutely stunning/amazing/whatever - worth experiencing like you wouldn't believe.
The advantages are:
1) Doing something every day is easier. This eliminates the decision "will I run today?". Deciding yes requires more self control than doing it every day by default, because the choice has already been made.
2) Doing it for 2 weeks is low commitment, and sets a goal.
3) Doing it with someone else gives you outside pressure. This is good because you don't have to pressure yourself.
4) Running before dinner is good for two reasons. First you really don't want to run after you've eaten (hurts). Second, you don't have to remember it: your body will remind you (hunger: you want to eat so better get running).
Contrast this with: To lose weight I'm going to start running.
This is almost certainly going to fail. Now you have ask yourself the question "will I go running now?" at some point during the day. If this happens what will you tell yourself?
- I'm busy now; I will run later this day.
- My life is long; I will run tomorrow.
- The weather is bad now.
- I don't feel good today.
- During the run at 2km: I'm tired so I'm going to stop now.
Contrast this with: It's an hour before dinner. You don't even have to ask yourself whether you want to go running, because you already decided that you will. What are the excuses you can make up?
- You're not busy because you planned to run.
- You're only going to run for 2 weeks, you can do that.
- You don't want to lose the 2 week goal or the 3 days that you've been running already will have been for nothing.
- The other guy is ringing your doorbell/waiting for you, you can't say no to him.
- You don't stop after 2km because you said 10km. And the other guy is running next to you.
Eliminate decisions (do it every day, and 10km). Set a goal (2 weeks). Get pressure from other people so that you don't have to use up your own self control.
I think the key is not that you have to have good self control. The key is to avoid using it, and if you do have to use it try to make the right decision more preferable.
Oh, and two things specific to running/losing weight: you have a lower appetite after running (at least I do), and if you run you have another reason not to eat sweets/cookies/etc: you don't want to undo the hard work!
- Eliminate decisions by not buying bad stuff that tempts you.
- Do some kind of sport and calculate how many calories you burnt. One piece of chocolate can easily cost 30 minutes to burn, so this makes not eating it more preferable.
- Lose weight with someone else.
Problems like this may be obvious to outsiders, but completely invisible to the person experiencing it. By learning to recognize your situation and substitute behaviors to form new habits, you can change what you are without necessarily changing who you are.
I've always advocated slow change. Choose one thing, and just make sure you are mindful of that. Practice this day to day. Don't say "I'll stick it out for three months and see how I go", just take it day to day. Then, a month down the track, see how that person who hasn't eaten fast food for the last thirty days feels about going to Macca's. Maybe, that person would rather have a home made sandwich, or maybe not, but just wait and see and stop telling yourself stories.
I can believe that this is a real phenomena.
But every discussion I've read so far seems like a snippet, a gloss, just a bit of information to get me to believe this but not enough for me to feel I understand what's happening.
What really qualifies as self control here? Refusing temptation? Concentrating on something? Not following habit? Suppose what I'm used-to is eating radishes but I how good cookies are good?
Does anyone have a reference for an article or book that really digs into this subject, give more than or two experiments, gives some quantification or theory or some kind of deeper understanding of this. I'm curious now but frustrated.