Rethinking Weight Loss & Willpower
So sure you're busy like sure, you know it takes energy and time and money and all these things to get healthy but I think there's actually it's not entirely your fault that you think you need those things I argue that the real barrier is that the method that we have been given to get healthy the method that we've been given that lose weight is actually a fundamentally incompatible with doing the one thing that actually works which is which we're talking about more in a bit but which is habit building so but first let's take a look at the paradigm that we have been given like what does let's everyone take a shot at it like what's the equation all doctors and everybody gives us for losing light energy and vehicles and yeah, so what you put in right bingo eat less, move more and you weigh less right way like this is the first law of thermodynamics like you argue with this and like the medical the wrath of the medical industry will like come crashing on your door because like you cannot b...
reak the law of thermodynamics, energy is not created or destroyed if you eat it, you have to burn in otherwise is going to stay in your body and it's not that that's not entirely true, but I want to unpack this a little bit to talk about why it doesn't work for and, like the real world, so let's, think about what you eat less means, I think almost as we saw from the video and from you guys is responses when you tell people to eat less or to diet what they hear, what we all here is eat things you hate, things that taste gross there unsatisfying and deny yourself things you love, you know, the comfort foods, the things you grew up eating, the things that you want to eat every day. And so, you know, that's not the most pleasant message in the world, and then the next party equation is to exercise more right, which most people interpret as suffer at the gym, beat yourself up like, you know, feel guilty about not exercising, hit the gym because very few people have time and who have worked that into their schedule so it could be really, really difficult. And so at the end of the day, the rial equation they're giving us is this you wanna weigh less, you need to be miserable, right? Um, I would love I would love everybody's thoughts on this s o the online audience, I'd love to hear what you think I'm that makes sense, is that how you feel, yeah, when you hear about how to get healthy like you have to be miserable and that I did it I was miserable for like fifteen years it kind of works, but not very well on dh that's because like this is part of the human condition is that we're not very good on making ourselves miserable forever wait, we can do it for a short period of time, you know, like let's say you're studying for finals in college or something, you can just spend twelve hours a day at the library for two weeks fine, you could even, you know, go on a diet and get really good shape your wedding or for your like high school reunion, but the real goal most of us have isn't like a two month, three month goal out where we look good for one event. Ideally, we'd all like tio eat things we like and feel good about ourselves and look good and feel good and have energy forever and this equation is just doesn't work, so we're gonna stop using it agreed what is the online audience have anything and they just be man of saying they've respect district to themselves, but then they binge they actually said they had a really healthy weekend, but then they ate mcdonald's last night, so this is everybody's story so let's talk a little bit about why this is the case, like let's, dig into the science a little bit, so I love this mark twain toe mark twain, quote, my train quote, so to promise not to do with thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing makes sense sound familiar? So I want you guys to just take thirty seconds and do me a favor, and just whatever you can, just clear your minds of the thought of a white bear, just don't think about it and raise your hand when you accidentally think about it. I think that was like two seconds I so half the room failed in four seconds. The other people, I'm assuming you're going to fail in under two minutes, because everyone does. This is a psychological phenomenon called ironic process theory that was introduced by a scientist psychologist named daniel wagner about twenty years ago, and it's really interesting and it's a common saying, where we believe that we need to suppress our thoughts, right, that we need, like, if we want to not think of pizza, we need to like or not eat pizza, we need, like, stop thinking about pizza. The problem is, our brains don't like that, so what we have is we have two processes in our brains, one is a monitoring process to make sure we're doing what we're supposed to do and then another one is actually doing what we're supposed to do so you're like ok, I'm not going to think of a white bear and then you're like um the wall is purple and my shoes or black and then like dan polar bear and and the reason for that is that there's this prop part of our brain that is checking on you know the saying hey, are you thinking of librarian oh you're not good but then you are right and so this is called ironic processing and as sexy as polar bears are imagine when you were trying not to think about chocolate like how much more intriguing is that than a polar bear? So this is like one very simple psychological reason that dieting diet's off unveil is because we're incapable of this you know it's not a good strategy so another big issue that comes up over and over again when you think about health and dieting and and doing the things you want to dio is that we need willpower right? Like has anybody ever wish they had more willpower boom boom boom yeah really really common on dh it's a great trait you know, there's plenty of data that people with great more willpower do better in school they have, you know, very successful careers and they even have like stronger personal relationships one of the places it doesn't correlate is with health and wait um people with really the test for really strong will don't really weigh that much less than people who don't know better diets but over the long term they don't tend to weigh less and there's a few reasons for this it like that will power works great for short term things like we talked about but for long term goals it is not strong enough and here's a couple of reasons why and there's this phenomenon known as ego depletion and basically this is a fancy scientific word that means that willpower is exhaustive all so we tend to think of willpower as a switch you know, like or like, you know, an innate trait that we have that we can just call on if we're being good and it will swoop in and make us make the right decision and that if that doesn't happen that were just week we felt but the reality is that willpower actually is works more like a muscle so it's much stronger at when it's fresh you know, like for instance first thing in the morning then after you have used it a lot. So you know, if you think about even the strongest man in the world can like curl a ten pound dumb bell for a very long time but eventually even that will break down because you just can't exercise the same muscle forever and your willpower works like a muscle so um that's really important to understand so if you wonder why you get home from work and you're completely dead and you tryingto like muster up the energy to cook dinner this is why it doesn't work like if you have to make all that decision when you get home you're not going to because it's too hard because you're spent what adds to this problem is a phenomenon known as decision fatigue which is similar but what the point I want to make with this is that it's not just acts of self control the train your willpower there's actually one pool of energy for all of your cognitive like higher cognitive processes so any time you have to make a difficult decision you train a little bit more of your willpower so anybody have a high stress job make a lot of decisions and we have kids right like these things just suck the will power out of you and so if you're relying on that as a way to control yourself you know I think this is one of the biggest reasons people have trouble with late night snacking thank you will power's gone completely gone so counting on it is a huge mistake that's going toe lead to weight gain so until like kick you while you're down thie another big one of the biggest factors that also influences how much cognitive control you have how much will power you have is blood sugar now guess what people who are dieting are notoriously deficient in blood sugar, right? It comes from food and when you are trying to lose weight, that is the goal. Your goal is to deplete your blood sugar so that your body starts burning fat instead of the energy that's in your food and in your blood. And so for a dieter, somebody who's intentionally restricting their food is you are even more depleted in your willpower than ever like you're basically you're at your weakest when you're dieting and you know you like I said, you can do it for a little while but eventually if this is your method it's gonna it's gonna let you down and so this is what's been lovely coined as the dieters catch twenty two, right? So while it's true you definitely do have tio eat less tio lose weight if you're using willpower and you're low on blood sugar, then you're not gonna have the ability to do it. So how you gonna eat less right it's a catch twenty two and it's really a big problem as you can imagine, the fact that if you're relying on eating less teo lose weight and that deplete your blood sugar and and and by the way, guess how many decisions tough decisions a dieter has to make every day more than a regular person right because everything is a struggle like I can't eat that for breakfast I can't eat that in the strategy meeting I can't eat that later you are you are just setting yourself up for failure that's the biggest reason why it's a it's a losing strategy for long term health shopping online but philip who goes by the name workout warrior he's asking daria have you discussed covered any differences in motivation for healthy eating between men and women absolutely waiting to different motivations yeah absolutely so I would love to talk about this so men and women are very different motivations right when you think about a woman like what it would have the kind of words that a woman would use tio talk about her health films any women you wanna call you out to talk about the health problems yeah like like what like when you think about helping what kind of words do you use like to describe your goals in your motivation uh just described goals like we have what is what's your motivation for wanting to be healthy uh looking good and feeling good looking good and feeling good whereas guys you want it you like getting into a bikini right? You wanna look good and we want to look thin we want to look we want to feel confident we want to have energy girls talk about things like this guys anyone a volunteer plenty of care how we look it's really more about how much you weigh with as far as weight is concerned depending athletically what you're trying to do so the heavy you are, the harder things will be right but some guys really, really want to bulk up. This is true to our mighty big enough though anything well, a lot of guys like they're really, really concerned about losing muscle if they're dieting because that's a very common it's a very common like that's you're told that that's what happens like if you if you don't eat more, you know you lose muscle and that's bad, you know it'll slow down your metabolism and guys want to be a little ripped yeah, I'd argue that if you are you know that physical appearance is similar to a woman situation, so I mean you want to get big so that you look desirable yeah so it's exactly the same totally and and there's you know it's interesting like girls tend to worry about the thighs girls tend to worry about their arms. Men are usually worried about the gut area I talk about girls talk about skinny jeans guys talk about being able to tuck in the shirts, eyes saying earlier I've got a relatively thin, very wiry frame, but the two areas that just stick out always the stomach and the chin I'm a chin that any two areas I actually noticed the rest is always the same after that's how I judge whether I'm gaining weight toe losing paper how how this is any other questions for long line you find a way is asking I have a lot of willpower but lately have been under stress I've been eating very healthy all day but by myself overeating at night what can I do besides sleeping it off sleeping off the stress so we're going to get into that quite in quite some depth but I think you guys are starting to see ah pattern here that I'm talking about, which is that when you're depleted you're not going to make the right decisions and so this the rest of the course we're beginning going to be talking about is the strategies that you can use to sort of stop that problem before it even comes so you know, a lot of it will be just recognizing that once you're in that state you're doomed like it'll be about prevention and about planning ahead it seems to be the most people are asking about how they change habits they don't necessarily know if they're bad habits or not and that's really what they're asking for example acts in london's saying he loves big portions so he eats just once a day and that means he goes to bed with a full belly and he's wondering if that's bad that's probably going to be problematic one of the reasons for that is that, well, there's many reasons for that on one is that our bodies tend tio consistency is good, so our bodies tend tio run on a circadian clock. You guys know what this is? Your internal biology basically puts you on a schedule every day. We have a bunch of hormones that control when we're tired when we're hungry, when we should, you know, take a break that's why, when you are jetlagged it's so hard, it's not just a matter of not having the sleep, you actually have hormones in the middle of the day in europe saying I should be sleeping right now. It's, bedtime and that's why you're tired, even if you sort of, even if you were able to get enough sleep on the plane and so and it. One of those things that sets that biology is the biological clock is your sleep patterns, but also your eating patterns. So when you are either all over the place, you know, eating at all different times all over the place that confuses your body and it doesn't know when to give you hunger signals and and when to tell you you should be satisfied right now and when you sort of ignore them all day and and load up at one moment it can be very confusing to your body because chances are you're overeating at that one seat sitting and that can that has its own set of problems and it's just you're putting yourself in a situation where you're working against your biology instead of with it and it's just a lot easier if you work with it. I mean there's obviously there's ways around almost everything but I would definitely encourage somebody to break that habit and work on eating breakfast, eating lunch in eating dinner it's really not that hard? It just takes them some habit adjustment. Alex is the same guy who eats same vegetables every day you must be loading up use portions of broccoli and green beans. I would like to see a picture of alex's meals for the I'd like to be around the aroma but that's an awful lot of broccoli. Anything? What that does is great, but does anybody else know any questions at this point? Nothing. Nothing pressing eyes let's we could talk about the what the hell effect? Um, so this is fun and I think everybody can relate at some point or another. So like I mentioned a minute ago, dieters in particular have a tough time with will power because we're low on blood sugar on because we are making so many extra difficult decisions every day compared to a non dieter the diet dieters also have this other problem which is known as what the hell effect and maybe somebody who's experienced this so let's say you go through the entire week and you're like I was so good you know, I egg whites and I had salad for lunch and I had like boiled chicken breasts or some other awful food every day this week and then and then there's like an office party on friday and office parties another great they're fun but like not particularly a special occasion like it's work it's not like your family and the people you like really really love I mean, some offices air like that sure creative lives like that but you know, I've worked in labs in which were basically offices where we would I mean, it was always somebody's birthday you have enough people around like there's always something going on and I've seen it so many times you go to the party and like, I'm gonna be good, I'm gonna be good and then you like have a glass of wine and you like have a couple care, as you know, like, oh, maybe I'll just have one cookie and then like somebody else comes and talks to you, you're not really paying attention and she was standing by the cookie table still still drinking your wine and you look down and you need another cookie and before you know it you're like staying there you put down like five cookies and the thought process when you switch from like just one tio oh what the hell I already blew it I'm just going to enjoy myself now go nuts is what happens and and I'll make up for tomorrow right? Like I'll just I'll fix this tomorrow tomorrow I'll be super good I'll skip breakfast and one less egg white and there there's it's interesting people who don't diet don't do this they don't have this sense of deprivation that encourages like that I'm never gonna have this again so I am like once your willpower has, like, been broken a little bit like it's a floodgate and and one thing that scientists have seen when people do this is they will ask the dieters after a phenomenon like this like how much they thought they ate and I have no idea they I assume if they like, they'll be like, oh, I don't know, maybe it was like five hundred calories it's like well, actually was eighteen hundred calories like they're off by all lots and sadly, they suffered all week to cut back on those eighteen hundred calories a week and now they ended it all in one fell swoop for something that wasn't even worth it for like the costco cookies from the office party that is depressing the worst on dso this is, um yeah, that's the scientific term is called counter regulatory eating, but I like to just call it the what the hell effect and it's. So in terms of how this actually happens and how you can avoid this, one of the reasons is that dieters they set up these we have rules, right? Like you're like, ok, today I eat let's, say fifteen hundred calories like that's, my goal or I eat twenty grams of carbs or whatever, whatever, pick your poison fat, whatever, whatever you think is bad, you know, it changes no matter what, when you set these sorts of restrictions up, this is the sort of thing that happens because you're fine until you break it and then there's nothing holding you back anymore. So it's a really actually sad, um and and really counterproductive approach and so that's one of the reasons that that dieting this is has been hypothesized as one of the reasons the dieters actually don't just not lose weight but gained more, you know is because they're having these episodes, which happened pretty regularly because obviously their willpower is breaking down pretty often and, you know, it's kind of like it's a good it's, a milder version of like a binge it's like a mile milder version of binge eating, you don't have to be like a full on eating disorder. Dieting is like a little mild eating disorder. Anybody have any questions about that of the right? And of course you're completely unaware of it. And so I talk to people all the time, like, oh, it's, so healthy I'd so healthy, I just can't live the way. I don't know why, and the reason why is because you're eating too much and, ah, and probably the reason is because you're you're setting in these boundaries, and then when you break them, you overeat and way beyond what you're aware of and and it's it's, really, and it really breaks my heart, actually, because there it's, just not necessary. You know, this is this. This approach is not necessary, and it causes so much pain. And I mean, what happens as a result of this is that you get really demoralized.