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Self Control

Saturday, February 22, 2014

This week was even better than last week with consumption – I was more consistent about staying in my range and I averaged around 1500 calories a day. That’s been my general goal, and since I am burning around 2400 calories, I hope to see some results. Didn’t hop on the scale like I usually do on Saturday morning, but I feel like my jeans fit better than they did last week. If I don’t see any loss, I’ll adjust the calories down, but I have to say, I am feeling pretty good. And I think it’s because I was able to control my consumption. And that self control felt really good.

I wasn’t quite as disciplined about exercise. I did get all my training runs done – 21 miles in all – but I didn’t do any strength training. I did yoga once.

Next week I will exert the same self control over my exercise and activity as I did with my consumption this week.

I started reading a book about will power and it’s pretty interesting. The author maintains that while will power was a very popular concept in the Victorian era and thought to be a critical element of a healthy personality, the idea that we were actually in control of ourselves foundered in the 20th century in Western culture, with the advent of the behavioralists like B.F. Skinner who essentially believed that people could be trained to behave and perform in certain ways, regardless of their willingness to do so. This flew in the face of the idea of free will. Eventually, the idea of will power was replaced with the concept of self esteem and the culture readily accepted that idea. This fit in well with the 60’s ethos “if it feels good, do it” and “I’m ok, you’re ok."

I’m not sure I am willing to accept all of this. But I do think that in our education system, teaching will power and self control do not seem to be emphasized as highly as the promotion of self esteem. That’s always bothered me, since it seems backwards to me to promote self esteem as separate from accomplishments and values. You feel good about yourself because you’ve mastered a skill, achieved a goal, developed good values (kindness, fairness, etc.), rather than the reverse. And accomplishing and achieving have everything to do with discipline, self control and will power. Essentially, delaying immediate gratification for future rewards.

And I think this is a part of what many of us on Spark are here to each other to develop self control and exercise our will power in order to achieve our goals. Definitely a running theme! This author believes that will power is like a muscle, which can be developed and strengthened, so I am looking forward to learning more.

Here's hoping all my Sparkling friends have a wonderful Sunday and a productive week!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    That is indeed a very good point you raise about achieving things having to do with will power. I know that is not the main point you are making in your blog, but it appeals to me.

    I have read somewhere that the people that are successful in a sense that they are able to accomplish things like making healthy living a habit or reach certain goals, do not have more (or better trained) will power than others, but they are just better at implementing new behaviour, so it becomes a habit quickly.
    And if it's a habit, you don't need to think about it anymore, so it doesn't require a lot of will power.

    I kind of liked that idea, that is why since reading that I try not to think too much about or say out loud: how I don't feel like working out, or would prefer a bowl of chips to a bowl of cherry tomatoes and just do what needs to be done.
    It seems to work for me, and afterwards I feel good about doing it, and think consciously about that.

    1446 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/6/2014 7:30:18 AM
    I think some disadvantaged kids need to feel "good enough" to even start working on goals. I don't like the idea of some people feeling entitled to rewards without doing the work. Rewards are great, but sometimes you have to feel that the journey is the reward.
    1449 days ago
  • LAURA7051
    I'd love for that part of me that wants to eat fruits and veggies to be stronger and the part that wants potato chips and chocolate to get weaker. :D
    1454 days ago
    It does feel really good to practice self-control, doesn't it? I think that's why I like doing short-term challenges to myself, both to try and break bad habits and to develop new ones. This week is a grain-free week again - I can do anything for a lousy week! And then at the end of the week, I'll feel the satisfaction of being successful at that. Then I can have a no-alcohol week/month, then something else after that. It gives me a goal to focus on, which keeps me on track! That will power book sounds interesting, but I don't count on my will power as much as my determination.
    1454 days ago
    I agree that self esteem is something that needs to be thoroughly taught and stressed in our society. If as parents we are not teaching our children that they are perfect as they are, good enough, etc... then we have to worry about the media and their peers making them feel inadequate. I also believe that self control is tied to self worth, self love and acceptance of all of one's emotions. Emotions stem from our experiences in life whether or not we had control over those experiences or not. This tie directly correlates our mental health to our physical health.
    Great Blog!!
    1457 days ago
    I'm amazed that you run several miles almost every day and can actually survive on 1500 calories a day. I don't even understand how that is possible. Are you losing weight? Are you hungry all of the time? How many calories do you burn in a run? What is your BMR?
    Signed, The Curious Cat
    1457 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/23/2014 10:52:05 AM
    Interesting how 'finding' and 'practicing' what works for each of us is so important. Love the idea of 'exercising' will power while BEing...
    1457 days ago
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