(NaturalNews) Can you train your will to exercise greater self-control? Is will power a factor in weight loss? Are these questions not obvious enough?
A new study at The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center suggests the will can be trained. Participants who were identified as experiencing an increase in self-control during a six-month behavioral weight loss treatment program were more physically active, compliant and had greater weight loss success.
Tricia M. Leahey, Ph.D., of The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, commented, "Of course it makes sense that if you have more willpower you'll do better in a weight loss program; however, this phenomena is surprisingly understudied," she says. "Our study is the first to examine whether practicing acts of self-control during weight loss is linked to an increase in self-control and better weight loss outcomes, although other research has demonstrated this effect in the area of smoking cessation."
Leahey added that the current study suggests self-control, or willpower, is like "building a muscle."
"The more you exercise it by eating a low fat diet, working out even when you don't feel like it, and going to group meetings when you'd rather stay home, the more you'll increase and strengthen your self-control 'muscle' and quite possibly lose more weight and improve your health," adds Leahey.
The fact that some participants did experience a measurable increase in self-control suggests to researchers that levels of self-control, or will power, are malleable.
Why are we studying this?
Given the vast resources required to pull of a study of this magnitude, shouldn't we be spending our time studying something that is less obvious? Determining that greater self-control leads to greater success on a diet program is not all that interesting.
When someone trying to lose weight feels the compelling urge to reach for a donut, what is happening? If we start with the basic fact that eating a donut is harmful, we could ask study participants to ask themselves why they want to hurt themselves. That would be a fascinating study.
I ask my coaching clients to do this regularly. The information I get back is extraordinary. When people ask themselves why they want to do themselves harm by sabotaging a diet or other goal, the answers sound like:
Because I hate myself. Nothing really matters anyway. I'll end up failing in the end. This is just who I am. I deserve it. I don't know what else to do.
A treasure trove of psychic information is unleashed the moment you start asking good questions. From there, let's figure out why people believe such things that lead them directly to hurt themselves.
Further, we could attempt to discover:
• Are these negative beliefs real, or just excuses to eat a donut? • If real, then are they part of some psychic structure that encourages self-defeat? • Of what value, evolutionary, spiritual or familiar, is harming oneself? • How do you stop wanting to harm yourself?
These are questions my clients and I wrestle with daily. In general, I find that:
• People do have unconscious self-destructive tendencies. • People heavily deny these tendencies. • Raising awareness of self-destructive tendencies - seeing them in a truthful light - greatly reduces their charge, over time. • Those willing to take a deeper look at themselves open new worlds of possibility in their lives.
And therein lies the rub. On the whole, I believe we aren't ready to see ourselves truthfully. So, we invest in studies that address shallow healing methods, second-rate psychology and pharmaceutical intervention.
Should people spend energy trying to build will power?
Yes, and the reasons are obvious. One of the ways to build will power is to remove the obstacles. Often, the culprit is not lack of will power, but an excess of masochistic tendencies. If this sounds strange, just look around - even for an hour - for evidence that people in this world suffer from self-destructive tendencies. Keep your eyes on this issue for a few days and you'll be impressed with how pervasive it is.
If we removed the troubling tendency toward self-sabotage, how easy would self-control become?
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