SP Premium
150,000-199,999 SparkPoints 156,504

The Willpower Gap: Debunked? SPT Thinks Not

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Well how timely is that? Susan Peirce Thompson this week vlogs on the new research which tends to undercut 20 years of experimentation on the "willpower gap": essentially, that phenomenon I experienced yesterday of worn-out will power, and collapse into some overeating after a day of prolonged stress.

The willpower gap is a pretty key concept for Bright Line Eating. It's why there are bright lines: no sugar, no flour; 3 meals a day, no snacking; and measuring portions.

If we have to rely upon willpower each time we make a food decision, it's completely predictable we'll fail. Because willpower is so easily depleted. Most of us have about 15 minutes' worth at any given time.

But: the newer experiments aren't replicating the old results. The willpower gap is, apparently MIA.

And so: what does STP think about that?

Not a whole lot. The willpower gap is a useful construct for most of us. It helps most of us understand why we're better off avoiding temptation. Better off putting ourselves deliberately into a situation of NO CHOICE. Better off pre-planning meals for tomorrow, today (yup, I'm planning an eggwhite omelette for breakfast; and my salads are packed for tomorrow's lunch: and my soup is waiting for tomorrow's supper!)

So: you know I agree with SPT on this one. Whether the willpower gap is "true" or not -- acting as if it's true coheres with my experience. And helps me stay the course. Most of the time.

And as for yesterday: there were NO potato chips. That's worth something. Plus only 235 excess calories.

And: I made it out for a brisk recess walk today. Will do the same tomorrow!!
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I think everyone must know the answer to this except me.
    When she says no sugar, no flour, what does that mean?
    I understand cutting out the junk food, but
    No bread ever? No dessert ever? Even home made? No ice cream?
    There's sugar everywhere, even in my organic plain Greek yogurt. It's in my ketchup! I can look for "no added sugar" but how do you go "NO sugar?"
    1469 days ago
    Whether willpower gap really exists or not,
    for me it is a very useful concept,
    spares a lot of stress and struggling if I rely on my habits, not on willpower.
    1470 days ago
    Mr. Will Power packed his bags and desserted me years ago!! so, I rely on other helpful measures! Good for you! an excess of 235 is not bad at all! And.... No potato chips is fabulous!! Yay You!!
    1470 days ago
    I agree - why tempt ourselves when we may not have had enough (sleep, satisfaction, food - you name it).
    Unless we're @ the 'top' of our game (sorry to much March madness), temptations can lead to unhealthy behavior...
    1470 days ago
    Just say emoticon to potato chips.

    Dear Nancy Reagan (RIP with Ronnie) must have had an iron will emoticon er.

    Her contribution to the world emoticon Just Say No! to everything that is bad for you.

    On some level it is true, just thinking it does not work. But saying it out loud is a bit more effective.
    1471 days ago
    as i said on yesterday's blog - you too?! yeah, me too. and NO potato chips yesterday either, though their had been the day before. i think it is the "construct" that is important too. i mean, look at the way it makes a difference to Eat Sitting Down. such a rule! there is nothing that says you need to do it, except for the knowledge that a whole bunch of calories will sneak in if you don't consciously have to walk to the table and sit there and eat. interesting stuff...
    1471 days ago
    Sometimes the exact science isn't what's needed... a paradigm for living and finding what works for US, the experiment of ONE is! So, yeah... bright lines, whether they are the same as hers or different...winning the battle at the grocery store, giving ourselves "no choice - this is something I have already decided"! Whatever works! Spark on. emoticon
    1471 days ago
  • SISSIE21
    I also find that it is easier to eat 3 healthy meals and 1 or possibly 2 healthy snacks per day and plan my meals. It takes me off my path of craziness which is eating everything that is bad for me. It gives my head some peace, if that makes sense. I don't have to think so much about resisting certain foods,I know what the day ahead brings. Thanks for the link! emoticon
    1472 days ago
  • _LINDA
    No potato chips??? Waste of a binge, just saying emoticon
    My willpower was okay today despite nothing working out, came in on my 'dieting no exercise' calorie range. Interestingly, Even though I had gone without food from 10 pm the night before my surgery until 6 pm the next day, I wasn't hungry, just very thirsty. Without exercise, I have lost my appetite. Guess its a good thing.
    1472 days ago
    If something works for somebody emoticon
    1472 days ago
  • DS9KIE
    1472 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    1472 days ago
    Definitely have those days when it's easier to resist temptation.

    For me, it's all about knowing what works (or not!)

    1472 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/24/2016 8:50:35 AM
    Yeah, sometimes I'm better at resisting certain items than I am at other times. And they were easier to resist when I had a kitchen and was cooking and planning. Definitely makes staying with my program easier.
    1472 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.