Find out what willpower is and why you actually don't want to rely on it to meet your health and wellness needs!
We've heard a lot about how willpower can help you meet your goals, but what if we addressed it from another angle? Do you know how it can actually hurt you?
Jenn Trepeck is described as a “force of nature" in the wellness space. She is an Optimal Health Coach, Podcaster and Business Consultant. After graduating from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Jenn founded Better Life Now LLC while working full time in hedge funds.
After over a decade of coaching clients, Jenn started Salad with a Side of Fries Podcast to help pay it forward and reach a larger audience to teach the nutrition education we are all supposed to know but no one ever taught us.
Jenn implements revenue generating wellness programs in doctors' offices, salons and spas to further expand impact and help change the state of healthcare as a Certified Transitions Lifestyle Coach and Consultant with nutraMetrix Custom Health Solutions.
When not hunkered-down at home during a pandemic, Jenn is typically working out at Physique57, discovering hidden gem restaurants in NYC or traveling to spend time with friends and family.
Click here to book a free wellness discovery call with Jenn!
What is Willpower?
The easiest way to describe willpower is that it is how we make decisions and what motivates those decisions.
It is like self control, and stems from a very complex neurological and hormonal function.
How Willpower Works
Generally our day starts strong. We make our best decisions in regards to our wellness, but as the day goes on it can go "downhill" as people say.
In the course of the day we make many decisions, and as those pile up, so does our ability to make them. This is called decision fatigue.
Willpower is like making a decision and you need a brain in good form in order to make that decision.
Since willpower is based on making decisions, our willpower changes as the day goes on. This is why you may find yourself choosing more wholesome options at the start of the day and turning to those not so wholesome snacks as the day goes on.
The Science Behind Willpower
All of this is very science based. As we wear out, we need to replenish our bodies with it's needed sources of energy. One main source is glucose, which is carbohydrates. Our brain especially needs carbs in order to function at it's best.
Which is why we crave things like sugar or carbs when we are tired or drained. This helps us balance our blood sugar so that our brain can function at it's best.
This goes back to the caveman days when our fight or flight response was triggered as we faced real dangers, like being attacked by a bear. Our body needed that quick burst of energy in order to fight to stay alive, or flee to save ourselves.
However now, most of our stressors are mental versus physical. But our systems are still acting in the same way. It has not changed like our lives have.
We also need to take other factors of brain science into account. When making decisions, are we operating from the emotion center at the back of brain (using fear and stress) or are we using the reasoning center in the front of the brain (using ordered thinking and problem solving).
When it comes to making decisions with food. All the senses are involved (seeing a commercial and billboard or smelling a bakery etc). It isn't as simple as one might think.
By using willpower we can also ignore the sensation coming from our body that help us decide if we are hungry or full.
Is Willpower Needed?
The real question is do we need to rely on willpower in order to make healthy decisions for our wellbeing.
When people reference willpower they are focusing on the act of resisting desires. Studies have shown that people spend almost 20% of their waking hours resisting desires.
By relying on that for our health, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Instead of focusing on resisting, we need to focus on the basics.
Are we well nourished? Are we giving our body what it needs? How is our stress? Are we sleeping well and staying hydrated? All of these contribute to what we feel when it comes to food.
Willpower and Food/Dieting
We need to work on separating our identity from our food. We are surrounded by language that attaches values to what choices we make with what we eat.
From labeling foods as good or bad, to using willpower to label ourselves. People love you for who you are and how you show up, not what you eat or how you look.
Instead of judging yourself by how well you are able to resist something, get back to the basics and think about what you are eating overall. Are you including all the needed macros, are you getting enough sleep, are you hydrated, are you stressed? All of these play a roll in your hunger and cravings.
We can train our body to not respond to the hormones that tell us we are hungry or satisfied when we follow certain diets and focus on willpower. But this isn't a positive thing.
A lot of our mental capacity that is eaten up by food choices and weight, so if we switch the narrative and stop using up that mental capacity for those things, we have so much more ability to focus on things that can actually make the changes we are looking for.
It is about total health and well being, our mental, physical and emotional health.
Make sure to click here and book a free wellness discovery call with Jenn!