Fitness Book Club: Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Welcome to the first post from my new fitness book club!

It’s funny that as I write about the first discussion and book selection, I am struggling to stay away from the distraction of Twitter and Pinterest.  The irony is the first book up for discussion was Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. The authors, Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, tackle the topic of self-control: where it comes from, why some people seem to have more than others and is it possible to strengthen it?

What could have been a rather dry subject was actually made quite entertaining. Baumeister is the researcher, in the clinical sense, of the pair and has plenty of experiments and studies to back up his primary conclusions: willpower is a real thing that can be conserved and strengthened. To help make sense of the research and figure out how to apply it in your own life, Tierney uses real world examples and real life situations.

My favorite chapter, for example, is his discussion of glucose levels and their impact on willpower. He uses a story of type 1 diabetic and comedian, Jim Turner, to illustrate the point. Jim recalls a nighttime episode of irrational thinking and near hallucinations to show how low blood glucose can take away our common sense and make us people that we aren’t normally.

I know this first hand. I too lack self control and rational thought when my blood glucose drops. (In case you didn’t know, I am also a type 1 diabetic.) I’ve been known to yank phone cords out of walls, break things and (although it’s been a long time) eat uncontrollably when my blood sugar dips far too low.  While most people don’t experience it to the extremes that Jim and I do, there is a lesson to be learned: to make rational thoughts and decisions the brain needs fuel. Let your glucose levels drop too low and you lack the ability to make good choices.

While this isn’t a fitness book, the authors do offer a pretty good weight maintenance plan that could also carry over to anyone trying to lose fat. I don’t want to give it away but I will give you a hint-it’s not about dieting.

If you’ve ever wondered how some people seem to quite smoking for good or stay dedicated to the gym with ease, this book is for you. There’s even a solution for my Twitter/Pinterest problem. It’s called RescueTime and I really need to look into it.

Thanks to everyone who joined the live Facebook discussion about this book. If you missed it all the questions and discussion are still there, just scroll back to January 19.

The next book for my fitness book club is The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.  For me it’s not just about living longer but also about have the best quality in those years. From what I’ve read so far this book will help us do both. Look for the Facebook live discussion in March. Read along and join us!