Monday, July 19, 2010


At the start of this year, my New Year’s Resolution was to run 300 miles in 2010. I didn’t really document any mileage up until early April (anything before that would be pretty negligible anyway), and since then, I have ran 91.55 miles! My goal for the next 4 weeks is to run 10 miles per week. At this rate, I think it’s totally possible to meet my 300 goal by the end of the year! That feels pretty good!

Saturday I attended a baby shower for one of my college friends. It was very nice and low-key. The food was very tempting, but I used some willpower and had one plate of snacks and NO cake. I was sad about the cake for about 5 whole minutes, and then everyone else was done with theirs, and I let it go.

Speaking of willpower, my husband told me about this experiment (Baumeister, R. F.; Bratslavsky, E.; Muraven, M.; Tice, D. M. (1998)) that he read about in Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard (Heath, Chip; Heath, Dan. (2010). So, they have two groups of people who believe they are doing a taste test experiment. The researchers ask them not to eat the night before the experiment. Group A comes into the experiment room. There are two plates on the table, one is a plate of warm, freshly baked cookies and one is a plate of radishes. They are told to eat only the radishes, and not even touch the cookies. After a few minutes, the researchers come in and give the subjects a maze that is impossible to solve. If the subject makes a mistake on the maze, they have to start over from the beginning. So, the subjects work on the maze and the researchers time how long it takes them until they give up in frustration. Then, Group B repeats the experiment, except they are allowed to eat the cookies. The researchers discover that Group A gave up on the maze much sooner than the subjects in Group B. What does this mean? Well, the researchers theorize that we all have a finite amount of willpower. Group B didn’t have to use willpower to resist the cookies in the first part of the experiment, so they were able to use it to endure solving the frustrating puzzle longer than Group A.

Pretty interesting, no? I believe they go on to discuss how using willpower in one area of your life (your diet, for example), can deplete the willpower you have left to use in other parts (work, for example). Which might explain why when I’m successful in my weight loss efforts, I have little self-discipline to get my work done.


Silver Girl said...

Interesting. I've felt that way for a long time.

laura said...

Yeah, I have too...but, it's nice to have some scientists to back me up! :)