Ever wonder why your resolve to hit the gym weakens after you’ve slogged through a soul-sapping day at work? It’s because willpower isn’t just some storybook concept; it’s a measurable form of mental energy that runs out as you use it, much like the gas in your car.
I'd probably say the energy the food provides gives you the energy to do work. Say I haven't eaten and I'm sitting in front of a computer for some soul draining task. I'm tired and low on energy. I need food to get my energy levels up to tackle this.
Same goes for the example. I'd go to the gym after a day of work if I had energy. Going to the gym without energy is quite pointless. I would consider it working against your gains to do so. As it would be working on a computer task low on energy and tired.
Do you think that would just be an excuse to not go to the gym? You must have realized this would happen when you set out to go to the gym. So the lesson is be honest with yourself. You should have known from the start that you wouldn't make it to the gym due to exhaustion.
I think the thought factors "Yes I can do this" and "No I can't" have quite a big effect on what you can do. Especially in the gym when I am doing deadlifts. If I go up to a set or one rep max thinking unsure or don't think I can do it, it has quite a detrimental effect on my performance. If I go thinking I can do it, it really changes things for the better.
Most things like that require not just physical but mental strength too, they go hand in hand. If I go in tired, the negative thoughts will overpower the positive, whereas of I'm rested and have plenty of energy I will walk up knowing that I'm on the upper hand of the scale and can perform near my best. It makes a big difference.
Would I call this willpower? I'm not quite sure, because like in the experiment, the chocolate cookies and the energy they provide would probably tip them into a positive frame of mind. Whereas those who sat there and watched would probably be more susceptible to negative thoughts toward the exercise or be less inclined to do it due to their energy levels.
I would definitely say the mind has a big influence, it definitely plays a part to what is physically possible for you and could on the most part be the difference whether you can do something or not.
Well if it is a stamina thing then surely you must be able to train it also.
One of the comments after the article mentions just that fact and wonders why it was left out of the article: in the short term will power needs to be conserved, but, it can be trained and strengthened like a muscle.
"Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish."
Posted 09 October 2012 - 12:58 AM
how cruel. we should do the same to Psychologist Roy Baumeister. put 10000s of cookies in front of him and have everyone in UM eat them in front of his face while he is tied up to a chair listening to my algrebra teacher droning on and on about x and y and functions and expressions and blah blah blah, then i might be able to get my teacher to be sued and jailed for murder by talking