People on diets are significantly more likely to cheat on their significant others than those not on diets. Why? Because they are linked by a commom concept - willpower. Or in some ugly cases, lack thereof.
A growing body of research suggests each of us has a single “willpower budget” for everything we do. As this willpower budget drains, we are more prone to give into temptations. Use all your willpower avoiding delicious food at a work conference throughout the day and you may not have any left to stop yourself from other indulgences, like the pretty blonde at the hotel bar later that night.
A more common and far less devastating demonstration of this concept is how dieters always seem to binge in the evening and not at other times. If you deplete your willpower avoiding unhealthy food - on top of exercising, getting the kids off to school, and biting your lip when a coworker asks for your opinion on their stupid proposal - it is easy to understand why most dieters don’t stand a chance against a pint of ice cream at 10 p.m.
With countless daily demands attacking our willpower, the prospects seem bleak. But there's hope.
Perhaps the country’s foremost expert on willpower and author of the book The Willpower Instict, Kelly McGonigal, says that much like a muscle, we can increase the strength of our willpower by using it. More than anything, McGonigal recommends that when you feel a craving emerge - like a donut, or the urge to lay on the couch instead of go to the gym - and you are about to give in, force yourself to “pause and plan.”
Here's how you can bulk up your willpower muscle: