Joanne Palmer: Chocolate willpower
September 14, 2011
I cheated on you today, and it was awesome.
There's a new doughnut store in town, and it seems to have a gravitational pull on me. I planned to eat my healthy cereal topped with fruit, but before I knew what was happening, my car ended up in front of Milk Run Donut Cafe. It's as if an invisible force got behind the wheel and drove me there. Who am I to resist the forces of nature?
I bounded up the stairs and through the door with a smile on my face. I had not eaten a doughnut in years before it opened. Years.
Milk Run does have some "healthy" doughnuts made with green tea, which is high in antioxidants, and Nutella, which is packed with protein. And, of course, there are doughnuts made with chocolate, which everyone knows doubles as an antidepressant.
But here is what you may not have known.
According to the new book "Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength" by psychologist Roy Baumeister, "willpower is tied directly to consumption of glucose." Baumeister contends that "to diet you need willpower, for willpower you need glucose, and for glucose you need to eat. So, in a sense, you need to eat in order to have the willpower not to eat."
No wonder diets fail.
I know that dieting makes me and everyone within a 26-mile radius of me crabby. This is the approximate distance between my house and Yampa Valley Regional Airport. My crabbiness extends as far as the airport because if I attempt a diet, not even the roar of a jet airplane can drown out the sound of my whining. Having tried, and failed, over the years to diet (a four-letter word if ever there was one), I now employ these tried-and-true methods for weight control.
- Nip it in the bud. Once you have gained five pounds more than you are comfortable with, do something. Trying to lose more than five pounds takes more than a week, which no matter how much glucose you eat, is more willpower than most of us have.
- Chocolate for breakfast is fine. The same is true for pie, ice cream and occasionally baklava. If you sin at breakfast, you will feel so badly about your caloric intake for the rest of the day that no food shall pass your lips. You will then, and only then, be compelled to slowly and mournfully chew a lettuce leaf or two for your evening repast.
- If you overindulge and no longer are able to button your pants, try the trick most newly pregnant women use: Attach a rubber band to the button of your pants, loop one end of the rubber band over your button, thread it through the buttonhole, and then loop the other end back over the button. This will give you some extra room around the waist and keep you comfortable while you employ the next step of the program.
- Give up (in this order) wine and chocolate. If this is too much of a shock to your system, then just give up one or the other. If you don't drink wine or eat chocolate, give up two of the most high-caloric things you consume daily. In addition to this sacrifice (a big one, I know), you need to increase your dog walking. In the unlikely event you don't have a dog, borrow one and hit the road! Walk your dog three or four times a day, and by the end of the week, your dog will love you even more, and you can have a glass of wine to celebrate the fact you no longer need that rubber band.