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Will Power Will NOT Help You Exercise. What Will Help is Surprising!

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in August of 2020. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ9BLFeIcXA

Bob: The title of today's program is willpower will not help you exercise. What will help is surprising. So, the way I see it, there are two different ways to help you exercise. One, you can focus on your willpower and achieving goals, like you’re going to use that willpower muscle. I’m going to try harder.


Brad: Strong like bull, get out there. Motivation.


Bob: You find out it doesn’t work. I’m going to explain to you why that is in just a little bit. The other way is to change your circumstances so you massively reduce your reliance on willpower. We’re going to give you seven tips at the end of this.


Brad: What about the Kool-Aid?


Bob: I’m going to show the Kool-Aid. We have a pitcher full of water with dye in it.


Brad: It looks like Kool-Aid.


Bob: It does, but it’s a pitcher full of red water, basically. So, I’m going to get back to this. I want to mention Tim Ferriss who I like to listen to a lot. He’s a good guru as far as self-help.


Brad: I was listening to him this morning.


Bob: Were you?


Brad: Yeah.


Bob: Awesome. He says self-control is overrated. Willpower is not reliable, systems are. It’s better to create a system. We’ll explain them. There is also some science behind this. Roy Baumeister did some studies and showed that willpower can be fatigued if you spend too much time on activities that require self-control. He did an experiment and participants were exposed to hard-to-resist foods. What food for you is hard to resist?


Brad: Well, you take those Cheerios with a little chocolate in them, and you put the marshmallows in them, and boy, they taste good. It’s like a dessert.


Bob: Crunchy and sweet. Probably a little bit of salt maybe. Sweet and salty. Now, French silk pie and wedding cake for me are hard to resist. I always have two or three pieces. The bride and groom are always mad at me. So, if you were exposed to that and you had to say no, that reduces your willpower. Just the fact that you said no, and you had to fight it. They found out that people who did that, who resisted something they liked, performed worse in mental tasks after they had to refuse it.


Brad: From the stress of refusing it, possibly.


Bob: Yeah. He did some other studies too, but it shows that your willpower is limited, and it can become fatigued. In my opinion, I’ve seen it myself, I’ve seen so many other people, they only have so much bandwidth. They only have so much willpower. I’m going to take this pitcher full of red-dyed water and that represents you in the morning when you wake up. That’s how much willpower you have.


Brad: This is a little analogy here.


Bob: Now, the first thing is, let’s say you don’t get a good night's sleep. You’re starting at a deficit. You’re already losing and I’m pouring a glass of the red water into a bucket. That’s some willpower, gone.

Brad: Now instead of a gallon of red water or 'willpower', we’ve got less than a gallon. One glass less.


Bob: Now you wake up and the first thing you do is turn on the news. What does the news do?


Brad: That pulls you down about three notches or 10 because it’s negative information.


Bob: You’re going to get anxious, you’re going to start feeling stressed. Another glass is gone. Then let’s say, you check your emails. There are problems at work. So, boom, willpower drops some more? Then maybe you have breakfast, that all goes fine. Hopefully, your spouse isn’t yelling at you. The dog missed the cardboard square it was supposed to go on.


Brad: Yeah, because what if something happened like you didn’t take the dog out and it made a mess on the floor?


Bob: All right, I’ll throw that one in there too, Brad. I’ll give you half a glass for that. All right, now you’re driving to work. Now, we’re fortunate we live in the area where our drives, I don’t think, are stressful.


Brad: I find it relaxing.


Bob: I do, too. If I’m driving more than a half hour, it gets to be a lot, but now I listen to podcasts. You should be listening to our podcast by the way. The next thing is, let’s say a lot of you do have a stressful drive to work. That depletes things. I’m pouring another glass.


Brad: We’re over halfway there. Our willpower is less than 50 percent at this point.


Bob: Now, you get to work and what’s the first thing you do? You’re going to see some donuts on the desk. You’re trying to stay on a diet, so you resist them. That takes a little bit of willpower, too. We’re really getting down there, Brad, aren’t we?


Brad: Yeah, especially if they’re long johns with cream in the middle.


Bob: That is one of mine, too!


Brad: With chocolate on top.


Bob: Oh, yeah. Then you have a long day at work. That’s a full glass. Then you have a stressful drive home. Another glass.


Brad: We’re 75 percent empty now.


Bob: Now you get home and there are some cookies on the counter. You must do another glass.


Brad: And maybe the grass needs to be cut and it’s staring you in the face. You're like, "Oh my goodness, I don't have enough time." Now, this is what you have left, about 12 percent. It has just a little bit left in there.



Bob: Wow, you are the engineer type, aren’t you?


Brad: Well, Bob, you can tell by looking.


Bob: So, now that’s all you have left, and you want to go work out and you’re like, yeah right, I'm not going to work out.


Brad: Yeah, that’s the last thing you want to do.


Bob: There are things that can help replenish this. If you come home and take a nap, that might give you a little bit more. You’re going to wake up refreshed. If you meditate. For a lot of people, meditation helps destress. There are things you can do to help improve it again. That’s what we’re going to do now. We’re going to tell you the seven things to help you extend your willpower.

Brad: So, when you’re down at 12 percent of red juice left, how are you going to fill it up?


Bob: Well, that and also so you don’t get down to 12 percent.


Brad: Throughout the day, from the beginning.


Bob: Right. One of the first things you can do, and this is one reason they recommend exercise in the morning because if you exercise right away in the morning, you have full willpower. A lot of times people feel like exercise energizes them.


Brad: Gets the blood going, gets the oxygen working in the system.


Bob: Not only does it not deplete your system, but it might also add to your system. Either way, you’re going to get it done, you’re going to feel better about yourself, and it’s going to help your stress levels. Try to exercise at the same time every day so it becomes a habit. You don’t want to have to think about it. I heard Obama used to wear two types of suits because he didn’t want to think about putting mental energy into what type of suit, he was going to wear that day. I heard the same about Einstein. A lot of these genius people wear the same things all the time, so they don’t have to think about it. You do want to establish routines. This does drive my wife crazy. I eat the same breakfast, and I eat the same lunch every day, but again, it decreases my decision-making process. I am a man of routine. Number four, surround yourself with positive people who exercise. Positive people will add to your energy level. What do negative people do, Brad?


Brad: Pull you down, Bob, right down the old drain. You need to stay away from that.


Bob: I have a good friend, after you hear this, you'll know why I didn’t mention his name. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, and we went out and he started getting on this negative track and it went on and on. When I was done, I was so depleted. I got home and I even went for a run. I had to counteract the negative. I do think if you’re an extrovert, you might get a workout buddy. I'm an introvert so I like to work out alone. If your spouse or a friend is upbeat, it’s going to make your life so much better. Number five, consider where you live. This is a big one. If you have a stressful commute, it can ring you down. My wife's brother had an hour and a half commute and for him, it was stressful to work, it was stressful at work and on the way home. He just got tired of it.


Brad: That's not an unusual drive in bigger cities. I have a brother-in-law who does that and his mindset is, that he just puts something on the radio and relaxes and it doesn't bother him. Some people can adjust to it. I wouldn't, I'd last a week.


Bob: We have to take genetics into account here because there are people that are born with huge amounts of bandwidth.


Brad: Bandwidth? You’re talking radio frequencies.


Bob: Willpower or bandwidth, you have a lot of reserves. Like your friend, Chris. I think he has almost unlimited bandwidth.


Brad: Energy.


Bob: Yeah, energy bandwidth. I bet you he could go, go, go and he doesn’t get depleted.


Brad: Yeah, but you don’t want to put him in a car waiting in traffic.


Bob: No, that wouldn’t do him any good.


Brad: So, patience is, like you say, it’s a genetic thing, a personality trait.


Bob: Number six. I am a person that takes a nap, and it does replenish my willpower, without a doubt. I’ll do something and suddenly get tired, I'll take a nap, come back, and boom. I’m hitting that thing and jumping at it.


Brad: Sometimes I’ve done that where I get up and so groggy, it takes me half hour to get awake again. Then I feel good so, I don’t know how to get to that.


Bob: You nap too long. I think 20 minutes is good. If you get into REM or deep sleep, you’re groggy. Number seven, Brad mentioned this one many times, don’t watch the news. It’s just stressful. As far as your emails, I think what you should try to do is designate like two times a day or one time a day that you read it. Don’t be reading them constantly.


Brad: Well, what I do is I’ll look at it more often in case it’s something that the person wants an urgent response. The other ones, I just leave. I’ll look at those later because I have a feeling, I know what that’s going to be about, I don’t want to even think about that and if it's not an urgent thing.


Bob: Right, you must manage them. I know that varies from person to person. Some people get 500 emails a day and they’re trying to stay on top of it. As you said, try to compartmentalize. I’ll worry about that one later, don’t worry about everything right now. They said some of the presidents have been good at compartmentalizing. Bill Clinton, when he was under impeachment, could focus on other things and put that out in the back. All right, that’s it. I spent a lot of time talking about this, but I think it’s important because exercise is important in your life and if you can manage your willpower, the amount that you have, and set up systems, you’re going to be way ahead of the game.


Brad: Very good. I hope this helps you and make some adjustments and think about the red water. Good luck, thanks!


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