You Buy Your Willpower at the Grocery Store

12.15.23 |

Most people think they make poor choices and gain weight because they lack willpower. They feel low and run to food for comfort.

Stop. Challenge. Choose. + Time = Success

But if you only bought healthy food at the grocery store, and it’s not close at hand, you can Stop. Challenge. Choose. without having the temptation in the room with you, giving you time to choose something healthy to eat or an activity on your health path.

Over the last several years, we’ve discovered that willpower is not something you have or don’t have, but rather it’s a resource that becomes depleted and can be recharged, like a battery.

Remember your days in school during finals week when you were using your willpower to study and everything else suffered? My girls deteriorated from being perfectly capable young women who made healthy food choices to wearing sweatpants with no makeup and living on pizzas, cheeseburgers, and fries during exam week. They were out of willpower.

Willpower is Finite

When your willpower is depleted, you are more likely to make your decisions based on your surroundings. After those tough days at the office, you are much less likely to make the effort to prepare a healthy meal or exercise, so it’s important to eliminate potential unhealthy temptations when you’re more vulnerable to poor choices.

Which brings us back to the title of this article.

You buy your willpower at the grocery store – and that’s two lessons in one if you look closely.

The first lesson: Resisting temptation is much easier when you have more time, so when you fill your home with healthy fuelings, the distance between you and an unhealthy snack is great enough that you can regain your composure and make the choice you really want instead of giving in to your lizard brain.

The second lesson: Planning ahead protects your willpower battery. Just as you can use your grocery shopping to make Stop. Challenge. Choose. easier for yourself at home, you can analyze any willpower obstacle in your life and plan around it. Skipping workouts because you’re tired after work? Get a workout buddy to hold you accountable. Are late night emails disrupting your sleep? Set your phone to automatically enter Do Not Disturb at the start of your nightly bedtime routine.

What changes can you make to protect your willpower battery? If you need ideas, ask the Habits of Health community!