Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How much self control do you have?

A new study shows that overestimating your self control may be a way of sabotaging yourself. If you think you have a high level of self control, you're more likely to expose yourself to more tempting situations, increasing the chances you'll succumb to said temptations.

I just read this article on scientific american. I'm not going to repeat everything that's written there, but I'll give a brief summary. I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Basically, they told one group of smokers that they were considered to have high self control and another group that they had low self control. They then let them choose what level of temptation to expose themselves to. A bigger risk resulted in a larger prize. They found that those that were told they had high self control were more likely to expose themselves to a higher risk and therefore more likely to smoke a cigarette.

The result isn't surprising. It is also something that can be transferred to many areas of self control and addiction. This is another aspect of how losing weight involves making permanent changes to your lifestyle instead of temporary ones.

I love to bake. I will fully admit that baking is one of my downfalls and one of the areas where I tempt myself. I frequently will bake some cookies or muffins with my son, intending to only have one. Um, that means one from every batch, right? As the baker, isn't it my responsibility to make sure every batch is cooked perfectly?

Yeah... See what I mean?

So, does this mean that to make a permanent change in my lifestyle, I need to stop baking entirely? Well, in my case, no, I don't believe I do. I am able to still bake occasionally while losing weight and I believe that I will still be able to once the weight is off.

But, this is key: the things I do to control the temptation while I'm losing weight are ones I need to stick with once the weight is off.

I generally bake healthy or somewhat healthy food. I try to bake while my husband is around. (My husband is not an enabler and is very supportive of my weight loss efforts). There are certain foods that I avoid. Anything that is full of chocolate and mint is only likely to be baked for very special occasions and when there's plenty of people to share it.

When I have finished losing weight, it isn't a free ticket to start making brownies and cookies every morning.

What are the temptations you have control or avoid?


  1. I am tempted by Pepsi... all the time... and I am usually able to control the temptation, except when I am very stressed out. It is my biggest weakness.

  2. I'm a baker, too, with my specialty being chocolate chip cookies. Not only do they contain a very tempting secret ingredient, but the chips themselves can be quite irresistable. And, oh, the dough! If I'm feeling weak, no way should I allow myself near the oven.

    Thanks for sharing, and for asking! Camaraderie is better than a cookie.