Willpower by any other name …

… Is much more effective, in my opinion.

See, I have a lifelong tendency to think that willpower is something other people can master, but not me. I do better when I come up with a more specific — and usually much more dorky — term. It’s a way of putting my own stamp on the situation, but more importantly, it helps me remember more precisely what my state of mind was the last time I was in a similar predicament.

During Monday’s run, Traci was telling me how the night before she’d been seriously craving a chocolate chip cookie, but by the time she finally gave in to her impulse the kids had finished off the box.

“See, if that happened to me, I’d probably feel cheated and go looking for something else to eat,” I said.

Traci admitted she felt a similar twinge. But she managed to squelch it by reminding herself that it was already 10:30 p.m. — too late to be eating anything anyway. “It just thought, ‘This is ridiculous! I don‘t need to be eating anything at this hour!”

That kind of scolding rarely works for me. But I filed it away as a scenario worth studying — and took it back out again later that same evening, as I struggled with a vague “want” as I ferried Colleen to soccer practice.

The impulse had been much stronger on the drive there. By the time I walked her to the field and returned to the car, I realized I could probably be just as satisfied with a reading break, so that’s what I did.

Was that willpower? I guess so. But it seems like there ought to be a name for that maneuver, so that the focus isn’t on the effort and sacrifice involved but on the points saved. I mean, if eating were like sports, this would be the equivalent of getting out of a bases-loaded jam without giving up a run. It means it’s still possible to “win” the day, in terms of coming out ahead in the intake vs. outtake scoring column.

Fending off my vague craving helped me make my points goal on Monday. Traci doesn‘t count calories or weigh herself regularly, but delaying her date with a cookie surely saved her a significant amount of guilt, along with some extra wiggle room in her jeans.

I guess for now I’d propose calling both actions a “save,” and let it go at that. It’s not nearly dorky enough to meet my usual criteria, but it might be fun to see how many “saves” I can accumulate in my food log.

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