Why Willpower Continues to Fail You

We all want more self-control. Temptation would disappear and we could pursue our healthy diets with ease. But something works against our better judgement. Our good intentions are ignored and replaced by decisions we will later regret.

Why do we sometimes act in alignment with our better judgments and sometimes fail to do so? Why do we finally break down and eat the treat? Why do self-control and willpower fail us?


Willpower is not a test of character. It is not something you have or don’t have. Decades of research shows it is a resource that can be used up and restored. It is in short supply physiologically. Like electrolytes after an hour of sweating, your willpower can become depleted. When you restrict a food, like cake, then every time you see cake you have to use willpower to avoid it. Say you are at a wedding where the cake is predominately displayed and you keep catching it out of the corner of your eye. Each time you see and avoid the cake you have to use willpower. The first time is easy. But the sixth and seventh times, that is where the challenge begins. Finally you break down and eat a piece. You feel defeated. How can it be that difficult to not eat something?

Fixating on a food you can’t have only makes you want it more. Your mind naturally goes to the thing you deny yourself. Kind of like when you try avoiding an ex-boyfriend and all you think about is calling him. A mind-set of restriction breeds stress. The morning is typically the least stressful moment of your day and decisions are less complicated. Sleep resets your willpower levels. Then after a long day of restricting and other stressors taxing your mind, willpower is close to depletion.

Willpower is not a virtue. It is a mind-body response that can be improved with nutrition, sleep, exercise, mindfulness and proper body functioning.

What makes self control so complicated is distractions. We are all surrounded by distractions and do many small mental tasks throughout the day that deplete our brains of available glucose. This glucose depletion also decreases our capacity for responsible decision-making.

So then how do we prevent distractions? It seems that the people with the best self-control are the ones who have set-up their lives to minimize temptation. You have to design your life in a way that allows little room for willpower.

Begin to understand how you make decisions. Pay attention to your daily routines and habits. This study groups people into four personality categories that are determined by how individuals make decisions.

Do you follow the same routine each morning? Do you eat the same foods everyday? How do you decide to exercise? Is it programed into your weekly schedule or do you question it each day after work?

Some people have to make exercise a daily habit or they’ll never do it. Others need a friend for accountability. And then some have to make it a competition, where the losing stakes are high. The same goes for food. If you know you will be tempted by cookies in your house, then you know you can not buy them. Current mood can play a big role in how you respond to food as well.  At the end of an emotional, frustrating day you reach for comfort food that is likely unhealthy.

You are the best person to inform your life. Embrace and work within your constraints. Create a set of rules to live by and your need for willpower dwindles.

Your personality can fight FOR or against weight loss.

Through self-knowledge, you will see how to work for your best self. It takes embracing the things you dislike, accepting that you want to improve and loving yourself where you are right now. There are many only guides to help you in your jurney, learn more here

Eating is influenced far less by self-control than by other lifestyle factors. The people around you and your environment have a powerful influence on your food choices.

So you’re working in an office that keeps candy in the break room and your colleagues eat bad take-out for lunch, then your work life is set up for temptation. Then you go home and your kitchen is filled with chips, cookies and frozen pizza. All that avoidance is taxing your willpower reserves and making it close to impossible to stay within a healthy diet.

Take a look at your work and home environments. How are they set-up for success? 

Friends and family can complicate your weight loss goals too. It is the people around you that most strongly influence your diet and habits.  And that is of course human nature. We want to fit in, be accepted and feel a sense of belonging. Food is communal, it builds bonds with others and when you step away from that, it can be painfully isolating. Your family may connect each night over bowls of ice cream, but that food is not aligned with your health values. It will take a heavy dose of willpower to avoid that treat.

In an ideal world we would all eat with healthy eaters, never have processed foods in our presence and live without temptation. Since that isn’t likely, you have to set yourself up for success in the best way possible. Maybe at work you move your desk so you never pass the break room and at home you have a bowl of fruit ready for those ice cream nights.

There are ways to create environments that limit exposure to anything distracting or draining. 

Self-control depends on circumstances not ability. When you’re surrounded by better choices, it’s a lot easier to make a good one. Allow your environment and the people in your life to help you create healthy habit forming.

You can’t demand excessive willpower. Our biology can work against us in powerful ways and we have to work with our mind and body to achieve the health we desire.

By listening to yourself, learning from your habits and following a healthy lifestyle (enough sleep, balanced nutrition, exercise and mindfulness for proper body functioning) you set-up a life that requires less self-control. You are in command of your choices.


What works for you?  How do your habits help with self-control?



Losing My Teeth Before 30

I walk into the dentist for my regularly scheduled cleaning. Two years had passed since my last visit, for this I use the best services from the Mentone dentist online. My teeth felt healthy and pain-free. After a routine brushing, flossing, teeth cleaning, and probing, the dentist looks at me with deep concern. “I want you to see a periodontist. You may need surgery.”

Surprised and confused, I leave the office with a clean mouth and a head full of worry.

The periodontist shared my results very matter-of-factly. “You have 40 percent bone loss in your lower teeth.” Okay, and that means? He went on to explain that my teeth were losing bone around the root, where the tooth anchors into my mouth. If it continues, the teeth will detach from the root and fall out. Visit https://www.yourcelebritysmile.com/ to get in contact with the best dentist near you.

Fall out. As in lose forever. Never to grow back. Toothless at 28.

How exactly did this happen to me? I was healthy, I flossed daily and always brushed my teeth. What could have gone wrong?

I began to question everything about my health. It became an obsession to understand why my bones were deteriorating. I read dozens of nutrition books, learned more about anatomy and physiology and researched methods for building bone density and taking care of my teeth with the best teeth whitener products.

During this time I had also just begun weekly therapy for an eating disorder. I’d battled bulimia for ten years and was finally ready to get help. I shared the teeth discovery with my therapist. She listened, then asked why I thought this happened. At the time I blamed my years eating a vegan diet. It seemed logical to me that the lack of proper nutrients resulted in my teeth dilemma. She left it at that and therapy continued for six more months. 

As the months passed, I learned more about bone loss as well as the health consequences of bulimia. Bone loss can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from difficulty absorbing nutrients in autoimmune diseases to taking certain medications for cancer treatment to damages from eating disorders. Generally something is interfering with calcium and vitamin D absorption.

I was quick to discredit the link to bulimia. It had already caused so much suffering that I could not fathom another consequence. I continued to solely blame my past dietary choices for the bone loss. We recommend these Reasons Why Cosmetic Dentistry is Right For You for better hygiene care.

Near the end of my therapy intensive, we circled back to my teeth. The notion that it could be tied to bulimia was nagging me. I shared my doubts about the link to bulimia and my therapist challenged, “I think the bulimia is the culprit, it is commonly seen with this disease.”

Finally it sank in. Bulimia caused my tooth deterioration. I accepted it. The concentration on my lower teeth was a clear indication. Years of purging allowed harsh stomach acid to flood my mouth and be in regular contact with that area, slowly corroding my teeth. 

Bulimia Physical Effects:
►Irritated digestive system
Bloating, abdominal pain
Lack of vitamin and mineral absorption leading to malnourishment
Teeth deterioration
Sore throat, indigestion, heartburn and reflux
Inflammation & rupture of the oesophagus
Electrolyte imbalance resulting in cardiac arrhythmia, muscle fatigue and cramps
Stomach & intestinal ulcers
Irregular or slow heart beat
Heart failure

The list only includes physical side effects and does not go into the just as damaging emotional health impacts.

28 and toothless. That’s the story I have to tell. It’s been two years since I received the bad news and I now have a reverse braces contraption in my mouth holding down my bottom teeth. The teeth I’ll eventually lose. Honestly, a tooth could fall out any day.

Yes I’ve accepted it and own my mistakes and continue to do the work to ensure further damage is not done. But I’ll never get my teeth back.


Bulimia: Caring for your Teeth, http://eating-disorders.org.uk/information/caring-for-your-teeth/

Physical Effects: Bulimia, https://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa/physical-effects