E130: Health Willpower Strategies with Nutritionist Jill Brook

Episode 130 April 11, 2023 00:37:06
E130: Health Willpower Strategies with Nutritionist Jill Brook
The POTScast
E130: Health Willpower Strategies with Nutritionist Jill Brook

Apr 11 2023 | 00:37:06

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Hosted By

Cathy Pederson Jill Brook

Show Notes

Join our own Jill Brook to think about 10 strategies to help you build your willpower for healthy eating and other healthy habits. Willpower can be learned with practice, so don't worry if it doesn't come naturally to you. Filled with humor and great information, this episode is a must listen!

You can read the transcript for this episode here: https://tinyurl.com/potscast130

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Episode Transcript

Full Episode [00:00:00] Mike Brook: Hello, POTS patients and fine people who care about POTS patients. I'm your sometime host full-time POTS spouse, Mike Brook, and today we have an episode with your usual host who's also my wife, Jill Brook. And today it is about a topic she knows a lot about, and I have heard a lot about over the years. It is the topic of willpower and nutrition. This has been a theme running through her career, her life, and in fact our marriage. So anyway if you don't know Jill, she is a nutritionist and a researcher. She holds degrees from Princeton and UCLA. She's on the board of standing up the POTS and willpower is a way of life for her. So Jill, thank you for being our guest today. [00:00:51] Jill Brook: Thank you for being our host. [00:00:53] Mike Brook: So let's just establish what willpower is. So tell us what it is and tell us why it matters. [00:01:00] Jill Brook: Sure. Willpower is the ability to delay gratification, to resist short term temptations in order to meet long term goals. It matters because according to surveys by the American Psychological Association it's rated as the number one barrier keeping people from reaching their health goals. And we've been having nutrition episodes where we say, oh, you know, eat more vegetables, eat less processed food, give up sugar. And I feel really guilty saying these things sometimes because everyone pretty much already knows that stuff, right? We, we tend to know what's healthy and what's less healthy, but knowing doesn't always help. In fact, I think it just makes us feel more guilty when we don't do the right thing. So I know I've been there and so yeah, I have, I have dived into literature for years because I feel like helping my clients oftentimes isn't about educating them more on what they should eat. They already know that. It's about helping them learn the willpower skills to actually do it. [00:02:07] Mike Brook: Okay, so this, this is all sounding extremely mainstream for the POTScast. I feel like when we've talked about nutrition in the past, it's been about all of these really, really specific topics about POTS and MCAS and blood volume and all this stuff. And I know we're gonna get into the POTS angle in a second so hang on everybody. But before we do, can you get, can you give us some specific examples of what you mean? When would you use willpower, for example. [00:02:36] Jill Brook: Sure. So it applies to all the common healthy habits where we may know what choice supports our ultimate health goal, but we struggle to kind of do it because in the short term, it's either less tasty or it's a pain or or whatnot. So it might be things like eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed junk food, putting on those stupid compression stockings that are not very comfortable, even though it might help us feel better later in the day. Going to bed on time instead of binge watching Netflix until 4:00 AM. Doing that Levine protocol, that's so difficult even though we know it'll help us feel better and might make our POTS better in the long term. Basically every healthy habit that that is gonna pay off later, but in the short term, it's gonna be tough. [00:03:27] Mike Brook: Okay, so help us understand the connection here between POTS and willpower. [00:03:33] Jill Brook: Right. So obviously POTS patients are instructed to do a lot of healthy behaviors to try to help their POTS, whether it's nutrition or wearing certain uncomfortable and less cool clothing, whether it is taking time to work on all kinds of diet and lifestyle and sleep angles. But the second place where this intersects is, I almost have to laugh because the more you study the science of willpower, the more you realize that so many aspects of POTS should theoretically weaken willpower on average. I mean, that said, I know tons of patients with incredible self discipline, so everybody's different, obviously. But when you read the literature and when we'll get to some of 'em, and you'll see it's almost comical because it's almost like POTS is designed to take away your willpower. [00:04:27] Mike Brook: So this is another chapter in the infinite book of cruel ironies of POTS. People with POTS need willpower more, but POTS makes them have less of it. So, we are going to discuss a whole bunch of strategies today that could help you strengthen your willpower and knowing you it's a top 10 list but also knowing you it's probably got 20 things on it. So I think we better get started. So before we dive into these where do they come from? [00:04:53] Jill Brook: They come from a few researchers who have been working on this for a long time. So there's a Dr. Roy Baumeister at the University of Ohio. Dr. Kelly McGonigal is a researcher affiliated with Stanford University. Angela Duckworth is at UPENN. Brian Wansink is a researcher at Cornell. And so, this isn't new. I've just kind of been collecting them over the years. [00:05:17] Mike Brook: All right. Anything else before we dive in? [00:05:19] Jill Brook: Just that willpower can be learned and practiced, just like dancing tango, you're not supposed to be born with it. In fact, in my opinion, having willpower around certain things like food is actually unnatural because it goes against our own survival instincts. Some people are naturally stronger or weaker to start with, but everyone can learn strategies to strengthen it. And it's like anything where smart practice makes a huge difference. [00:05:48] Mike Brook: Okay? So hopefully people will have more success with this than I have dancing tango. All right, so let's get in there. What's number one? [00:05:55] Jill Brook: Focus on one goal at a time. If you work on too many at once, you're less likely to succeed at any of them. [00:06:04] Mike Brook: So why is that? [00:06:06] Jill Brook: I think it's because of attention and focus. So we'll talk about how the strategy that I like to encourage people to use is pick one, focus on it, turn it into a routine, into a habit, and we'll talk about some strategies do that, to get it on automatic pilot. And once one behavior is on automatic pilot, now you have freed up your attention to focus on the next one. [00:06:30] Mike Brook: Okay. What's next? [00:06:32] Jill Brook: Clarify your goals and be very specific. For example, a goal of just like eating healthier is too vague. It's hard to know if you're doing it or not. So instead, a very clear goal, like eat three servings of vegetables every day is better because it's so specific that you know if you have achieved it or not. [00:06:55] Mike Brook: So I wonder if on these you could give us any hints, tricks that you've used with clients over the years for kind of getting them to do it. [00:07:05] Jill Brook: Yeah, I think that over the years, one big purpose that I served was just accountability. My, my clients would have to check in with me and my staff three times a week, and so finding a buddy to be accountable for, to make sure that you actually do these things can be huge. [00:07:21] Mike Brook: And encouraging people to be specific is part of being that buddy. [00:07:26] Jill Brook: Exactly. So your buddy can say, Hey, okay, what were your three vegetables you ate last night? Instead of, you know, did you eat healthy last night? Yep. [00:07:35] Mike Brook: Okay. What's next? [00:07:37] Jill Brook: Choose goals that are directly within your control. For example, sleep better or lose weight. Those are not directly within your control because too many outside factors could intervene, right? And so you wanna choose something that should help get you to your goal, but is directly within your control, such as starting your bedtime routine at nine. Or making half of your plate vegetables at dinner. Those are things that that fate will not intervene and cause you to fail even though you did your part. If you are trying to give up something, then don't focus on what you will not do. Focus on what you will do instead. So, for example, of saying, I will not stop at McDonald's today. You wanna say, I will pack a lunch and eat it in the park. Or if you're trying to skip the beer that everyone else around you is drinking, you could tell yourself, okay I will get some sparkling water and then I'll make great conversation with people and try to meet someone new. So, so focusing on what you will not do has the polar bear problem. Do you remember what that is? [00:08:52] Mike Brook: The polar bear problem. I have no idea what that is. [00:08:55] Jill Brook: Okay. Try not to think about a polar bear for five seconds. Everyone do this. Just whatever you do. Don't think about a polar bear. Okay? How'd you do? [00:09:07] Mike Brook: I thought about, I admit, I admit, I thought about a polar bear. [00:09:10] Jill Brook: Right? It's hard, right? So if you wanna not think about a polar bear, it's much easier to tell yourself what to think about instead. And it's the same with the habits. [00:09:20] Mike Brook: So think about a giraffe instead. Okay. What's next? [00:09:25] Jill Brook: If a goal is feeling too intimidating, then break it down into smaller and smaller tasks until that first step sounds very doable, right? So it's better to take one teeny tiny baby step in the right direction then to be paralyzed and do nothing. Plus the studies suggest that once you take a baby step, then the next step is actually gonna feel easier, and the next one will feel easier. And pretty soon you'll have some nice momentum in the, in the right direction. [00:09:57] Mike Brook: It's interesting hearing you talk about these cuz I can see how you do these. You know, you have a lot of kind of small behaviors that I puzzle at sometimes, but now I'm seeing it here. It's all part of this grand scheme to harness your willpower better and be able to take these baby steps in the right direction. This is very eye opening Jill. What's next? [00:10:21] Jill Brook: Okay, this one comes from Angela Duckworth who says, make a temptation bundle. Pair an activity that you are trying to do more of with something that you enjoy. So the classic example is that if you're trying to start an exercise habit, like riding a recumbent bike three times a week for 20 minutes, then you could pair that with a favorite TV show or a podcast so that you have a better association with the new activity. And if you need to, you might only let yourself watch that TV show when you're on the bike. Like if you struggle with overeating. Another example is allowing yourself to play a video game as soon as you finish dinner. And basically you just make it more enjoyable to do the healthy behavior. And after a few weeks, it should become much more automatic. There should be less resistance to starting that behavior. I see it as being maybe one indulgent behavior paired with something you're trying to get yourself to do more of so that it evens out to something that you can get yourself to do. When you are trying to get yourself to have good willpower, and especially if you're giving up some, you know, desirable or delightful things like donuts, then ideally you would replace that reward or delight or that joy in your life with something else that is not unhealthy because you don't want your brain to just completely go cold turkey on happy chemicals. And so I always encourage my clients to actually take time to keep a list of non-edible or healthy rewards, things that might be like massage or bubble bath or playing with a puppy or whatnot, so that you still have something enjoyable and you're not just at a net loss of enjoyment in your life. [00:12:14] Mike Brook: Okay. What's next? [00:12:16] Jill Brook: With food goals, you wanna plan ahead when possible, don't wait until the last minute and you're starving because low blood sugar is not conducive to good decision making or strong willpower. And the further ahead you are thinking, the more you are using the part of your brain that that demonstrates good willpower. So there was one study, I think it was at Caltech, and it found that the farther ahead we make a decision, the healthier it tends to be because we actually use a different part of the brain when we're thinking far ahead. And so, you know, let's do an experiment quick. If you had to say right now what you'll eat for dinner one month from now, what would you say? [00:13:03] Mike Brook: Oh, I would definitely say something healthy. You know, I would, I would have stir fry [00:13:10] Jill Brook: Nice. Yeah. Yeah. Pretty much whenever anyone's planning that far ahead, they usually say something really healthy. And then if they're choosing for right now, it kind of depends on the moment, how hungry are you, and that kind of thing. So, planning ahead is safe bet that it'll be as good or better. [00:13:25] Mike Brook: So how much of that is just because of the timing? You know, if you're thinking into the future, you use a different part of your brain versus just what I think everybody's probably experienced, which is that when you're starving, you kind of eat everything and all of your inhibitions go out the window, you know, that kind of thing. Are those, are those related, or is this one of those versus the other? [00:13:48] Jill Brook: Yeah. I think that you're saying is that you use a part of your brain that is less about planning ahead and less about optimizing the logical good decision and more about I am in a you know, to your lizard brain, you are in a survival situation now. Where can you get some, some safe, easy food? And if that's not, if that stir fry isn't sitting right in front of you, you might grab whatever, whatever is easy. [00:14:16] Mike Brook: All right. What's next? [00:14:19] Jill Brook: This one's a little bit counterintuitive and it's to avoid "fitspiration." Do you know what that is? [00:14:25] Mike Brook: I think you're gonna have to explain that. I think you just made that one up. What is fitspiration? [00:14:30] Jill Brook: Fitspiration are like those memes going around where it's oftentimes like some completely beautiful person in a beautiful setting and their body looks amazing and they look so healthy, and it's supposed to inspire us to become like them. [00:14:46] Mike Brook: Ah, okay. [00:14:47] Jill Brook: Yeah, so it's supposed to be motivating and inspiring, but it is actually associated with less success at reaching fitness goals because it distracts people from the work that needs doing today. And it's also shown to stress them out a little bit when they are, you know, working hard, it's been two weeks and they're looking nothing like that supermodel. [00:15:11] Mike Brook: So, so it can be discouraging. I mean, that, that sounds like maybe part of it, sort of the, it can feel futile, sort of the, the reaction would be I'm never gonna get there, so why bother trying? Is that the way people think about it? [00:15:25] Jill Brook: I think that's part of it. And I think another part is that it takes your brain off of the most productive thing, which is to be thinking, okay, what are my super specific todo goals today? Oh, yeah, I was gonna eat three servings of vegetables. I was gonna walk around the block. I was gonna start my bedtime routine at 9:00 PM. That's kind of where your brain should be at for top top results. Sometimes they say focus on the focus on the process, not on the outcome. And fitspiration gets you focusing on the eoutcome, which takes your mind off the process that you need to work at to get there. [00:16:04] Mike Brook: So this, this sounds like, kind of a special case of one of your earlier ones, which was to clarify your goal. So they, the sort of the vague eating healthier is a bad goal, but eat three servings of veggies every day is a good goal because it's specific and it's within your control. So it seems like fitspiration is the ultimate vague goal. Like, I have no idea how I'm gonna look like that, but my goal is that I'm going to. [00:16:28] Jill Brook: Exactly. And it's also outside of your direct control. Like look like that model, there is no way that your genetics and your circumstances are gonna necessarily make that happen. So you're kind of just torturing yourself by aspiring to do something that is so vague and not within your direct control. [00:16:47] Mike Brook: All right. What's next? [00:16:49] Jill Brook: Now this one, I'm not sure it applies to POTS patients, so take this one with a grain of salt. But the research finds that if you make health decisions in the morning, you tend do better. Now for most people, willpower starts out the strongest in the morning, and then it tends to weaken over the course of the day. And if that's true for you, consider making your grocery list or your menu plan, or other decisions or commitments earlier in the day. Now, I know a lot of POTS patients who feel really lousy first thing in the morning, and they tend to feel better later in the day. So I would encourage people to maybe figure out, you just kind of pay attention, do you have a certain time of day where you feel like you have stronger willpower? And let that be a time of day where you make certain kinds of decisions or plans about your health. [00:17:40] Mike Brook: Can I ask, does the, what do you do personally? What's your personal policy? Do you find that your willpower is better in the morning or at night? [00:17:48] Jill Brook: Oh yeah, definitely better in the morning for me. [00:17:51] Mike Brook: Okay. So the general consensus seems to work for you, but you're, you're thinking that maybe you're a little bit different than other POTS patients because you don't, you seem to do fairly well in the morning. [00:18:01] Jill Brook: Yeah. I'm still a morning person and there's lots of POTS patients who are really, really not morning people. They're kind of more nighttime people. [00:18:09] Mike Brook: Got it. Okay. What's next? [00:18:12] Jill Brook: The next one is to publicize your goals. Tell people what you plan to do, because it serves for accountability. I kind of talked about that earlier with getting a buddy, but it's just a little bit of, you know, social pressure to do what you said. [00:18:28] Mike Brook: How should somebody publicize their goals? Should we all start Instagram accounts and start talking about our three servings of, of vegetables you think? [00:18:37] Jill Brook: Oh, that's interesting. I guess that's one way to do it. I mean, you and I do this all the time, right? Like you always hear me say, I'm just saying this to be accountable, but I'm gonna blah, blah, blah. [00:18:47] Mike Brook: You do say that all the time actually. [00:18:49] Jill Brook: And it tends to make do it right? [00:18:51] Mike Brook: It actually does work. Yeah. Okay. What's next? [00:18:56] Jill Brook: Alright. This one I have not done, but theoretically the research shows that if you take up meditation, it builds up white matter in the region of the brain responsible for willpower. And in a couple months of meditation people have been shown to improve their willpower. Now of course, it takes willpower to start meditating and that seems where I have problems, but in theory, this one is really effective. [00:19:24] Mike Brook: I have exactly the same problem. It, it just never sticks with me. It just sort of, it takes real focus just to be in that state or just know, carve out time for that. I wonder if there are any tricks about that. Like, I wonder if there are any ways to kind of trick yourself into getting to adopting a habit that might actually have willpower benefit. [00:19:47] Jill Brook: Well. Okay. So there were some interesting studies done that discussed in Dr. Kelly McGonigal's book where she talks about how very teeny tiny acts of willpower, like just telling students to practice good posture for a couple weeks. Just that much had, had their willpower improved at the end of that two weeks. And so basically that suggests that it doesn't matter. It's that baby step in the right direction. And you know, maybe if you, if you do that for a couple weeks now, your willpower is good enough meditate once, or maybe it's enough to do something else that you can kind of bootstrap yourself and get there eventually. [00:20:27] Mike Brook: The thinking is that willpower is sort of a muscle that you can build up. Is that kind of the idea? You do these little tiny exercises and it just sort of builds that muscle? [00:20:37] Jill Brook: Exactly. And now here's an interesting thing that in some ways, willpower is like a muscle in that the more you use it, the more you strengthen it. And that is an example, what we just talked about is an example of that. But on a day to day basis, willpower can be like a battery where you drain it. And the interesting thing about what can drain willpower is that it's anything that forces you to do things that you don't feel like doing. So even just being a courteous driver in bad traffic, if that is annoying to you. Listening to someone who is frustrating you and being polite, you know, doing all kinds of things during the day, things that you plan to do, and then the unexpected things that come up, those can all drain your willpower over the day, which is why willpower tends to be weaker at night. And that's why, you know, people say if you really, really wanna count on getting something done, you want to do it in the first few hours upon waking, because all those intervening things that might eat away at your willpower have not happened yet. [00:21:42] Mike Brook: So I'm, I'm really curious about this willpower as a muscle versus willpower as a battery thing, cuz I've definitely heard you talk about it as a battery. That used to be something that I would hear you say to, you know, clients and groups all the time is that it's a battery. In other words, it can be drained, but this thing about how it can be strengthened through practice is kind of new. That is that, is that a new finding? I hadn't heard that one before. And, and if so, how would I know if I'm doing an activity that's draining it versus strengthening it? [00:22:18] Jill Brook: So that's a great question and I think that my understanding is that on a daily basis, it's like a battery. You're not gonna be able to recharge your willpower battery at 7:00 PM at night. You know, for the day it is kind of drained. And going to bed, getting a good night's sleep is a great way to recharge it. And spoiler alert, sleep is one of the reasons why POTS patients may be at a disadvantage because sleep is one of the ways to recharge it. But using it for more things day in, day out makes it easier to use it for those things and more over the course of weeks and months and years. [00:23:01] Mike Brook: Okay. Interesting. All right. What's next? [00:23:05] Jill Brook: Do some environmental engineering. I know you've heard me talk about this one a lot. [00:23:11] Mike Brook: What do you mean by environmental engineering? [00:23:14] Jill Brook: So Dr. Brian Wansink at Cornell's Food Lab has done some really cool studies about how your environment can affect what you eat. For example, do you remember the candy dish studies? [00:23:28] Mike Brook: I remember the basics of the candy dish studies. It involves a dish of candy. I don't know if I remember anything else though. [00:23:36] Jill Brook: Yeah. So they went into a workplace and they put a candy dish within sight of a bunch of workers, and then they look at how much candy do people eat. And then they changed the conditions to see what makes people eat more candy or less candy. So little things ended up making a big difference. For example, if the candy dish was clear and transparent so that you could see the colorful candy in there versus being opaque. You wanna guess when people eat more? [00:24:05] Mike Brook: I mean, I would, I would guess maybe clear, cuz you can see more of it. It feels like it's more abundant. [00:24:12] Jill Brook: Exactly. Something about being able to see it makes people eat more as if it's just like a little reminder to your lizard brain. Oh yeah, there's some cheap, easy calories. You know, we like calories for survival. Why don't you go get some? So people ate quite a bit more in that situation. Then they would either have the candy dish in plain sight or they would have it hiding behind some files. [00:24:34] Mike Brook: Well, that seems obvious. I mean, the more, the more overt and, and out in the open it is, I would think that would cause people to eat more. [00:24:42] Jill Brook: Yeah. And then another big one was they had it either within reach of somebody or they had it, you know, like a few, several feet away where somebody would have to get up from their desk and take a few steps to go get it. [00:24:55] Mike Brook: Yeah. So that seems, seems like the convenience is going to drive more candy consumption. [00:25:02] Jill Brook: Yeah, and they found really significant differences. So the upshot is that even teensy tiny little changes in your environment, like just putting the the candy dish a few feet further away does end up making a huge difference over time. They've done similar things with just going into people's homes and they look at, does that person keep cereal boxes on their kitchen counter or not? And the people who do tend to weigh more and they tend to eat way more cereal if it's sitting out. Maybe that's not surprising. You know, this kind extrapolates to, is the healthy food in the front of the refrigerator or the back of the refrigerator? Is the ice cream in the front of the freezer where you can grab it easily? Or is it at the bottom where it takes 30 seconds of digging? All of that is thought to make a pretty big difference because even just 30 seconds gives you time to recall your goals and gives time for a little bit of willpower to kick in. [00:26:03] Mike Brook: So what else? [00:26:04] Jill Brook: One trick that I've always told my clients is to eat the healthiest when you are hungriest. If you have a time of day when you are just ravenous that is the time to eat an apple or broccoli or, or something really healthy because the hunger alone will make it delicious and almost addictive because you've associated that food with satisfying a basic survival need. So that is not the time to grab chips or something junky because that stuff is already designed to try to be addictive. So you don't need your own survival biology strengthening that association. [00:26:45] Mike Brook: Okay. What else? [00:26:48] Jill Brook: Try to cement routines. And this is huge. If you can get something to be a routine, then it will happen automatically without conscious effort. And the trick to cementing routines is doing them over and over again, ideally as much as possible. At the same time. In the same place. In the same way. And you know, a lot of people can relate to this idea. When they start driving to school or work the first few days, they really have to think about it and the route is new. But by the time they've been doing it for a few weeks, it's almost like they just magically drove themselves to work and they don't even remember doing it. They were thinking about other things, and it was that automatic. And that is because you do it the exact same way, the exact same time, day in, day out. So that routine gets really cemented in. So if you can do that around your grocery shopping or your meal planning, or your cooking or your eating then that is how you can turn that into a routine so you're not consciously thinking about it. If you're not consciously thinking about it, you don't even need to use willpower. It just happens. [00:28:08] Mike Brook: This might be one where POTS patients have a slight advantage. I feel like with you anyway, you're kind of used to this whole idea of doing things the same way all the time and not getting out of your comfort zone. It seems like it's, it would be plausible to kind of, you know, adopt that attitude about some of this other stuff too. [00:28:28] Jill Brook: Yeah, that's a good point. And what comes to mind is my grocery shopping routine. Cuz you are so kind, you wait in line for me, but I don't like to stand up for a long time. So I cruise through, I get my normal regular things. I no longer spend, you know, 20 minutes just browsing what new kinds of potato chips are around. It's very hard to get off track when you just keep buying the same healthy groceries. [00:28:52] Mike Brook: So, I know you have some that that are a little bit more specific to POTS patients. [00:28:57] Jill Brook: Yeah, there's some pretty good research showing that certain things really help strengthen willpower and those things are getting more good quality sleep. Getting exercise because of all the great circulation to the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain where we make those good high willpower decisions. Older age is helpful for willpower because the region of the brain responsible for willpower does not fully develop until about the mid twenties. And then having a low stress level also helps willpower. So those four things, sleep, exercise, age, and stress are pretty much, I would say going against the average POTS patient. [00:29:50] Mike Brook: All right, what else? [00:29:52] Jill Brook: Okay. This one is so important, especially because we have said that POTS patients might be at a disadvantage with willpower when it comes to things like sleep stress. Oh, I didn't mention physical pain. That's a form of stress that makes your willpower weaker. You need to practice self-compassion. Because it's inevitable that we all fail to do the healthy thing sometimes, and it is not, I repeat, not productive to practice any kind of self shaming or self-loathing. Instead, a study by Dr. McGonigal suggests that we should try talking to ourselves in the voice of a kind friend. With compassion, right? So think about how you would talk to a friend if they said, oh man, I, I had the best intentions and I really blew it. What would you say to them? You'd be nice, right? So in studies that she has done with participants who are trying to eat healthier, this is kind of a mean study. She tricked them into junk food and basically feeling like they blew it. Next, half of the participants were invited to feel bad about it and the other half were instructed to have self-compassion and talk to themselves as a kind friend would. Then on the same day, she put another plate of tempting junk food in front of them. And wanna guess who ate more junk? [00:31:23] Mike Brook: Well, I think I definitely know who ate more junk. It's, it was the people that were made to feel bad about themselves. What is even more remarkable though, is how pathological some of these psychology experiments are. Tricked them into eating junk food. How do you even do that? But anyway, Bravo for doing a study on it. So am I right though that it was the people that were made to feel shame. [00:31:46] Jill Brook: Exactly. Exactly. So it appears that a shame spiral is a very real phenomenon and boy, I wish I had known this in my teens because I think I spent a lot of nights mad at myself for not doing the thing that I intended and it just makes everything worse. I wanna remind everyone that the whole reason we tend to eat junk food or to stay sedentary more than is, you know, ideal these days is our survival instincts. Up until just the past couple hundred years, famine was the biggest threat. And so passing up on safe calories or spending more metabolic energy than necessary was not a good survival strategy. And that's why our biology defaults to do those things, right? When in doubt, eat and be be a little bit lazy, right? So our environment today provides us with totally different survival challenges, and we have the luxury of having more food and more chances to be sedentary than ever before. So those instincts are not serving us that well anymore, but we should never feel shame for the survival instincts that got us here today. [00:33:05] Mike Brook: Yeah, that sounds, that's a good pep talk. I mean, we should have pride in it because it's those instincts that got us through those famines, that got our ancestors through them. [00:33:16] Jill Brook: I know, right? Like you can imagine, like, there's some people who just are amazing with the willpower and, you know, a plate of fresh baked cookies could sit in front of them for 10 hours and they'd never have 'em. But imagine the instincts in the past to pass up on food like that. Those people perished every time there was a tough winter. So it, it's, it's better to have the instincts. We have to have very little very little willpower around. [00:33:46] Mike Brook: Okay. So I think we're gonna wrap up this session. I think we're gonna do another episode that's sort of part two of willpower for POTS. But let's wrap this one up. So what do you, what's the last one? [00:33:59] Jill Brook: Well, the last one was my, was my excuse to make fun of you. The last strategy is pay attention and learn whatever works for you, cuz we're all different. And you have a funny willpower strategy. Do you know what I'm talking about? [00:34:14] Mike Brook: I have no idea what you're talking about. What's going on here? [00:34:17] Jill Brook: You say that you like keeping a bag of chips in the kitchen, and it's a brand of chips that you don't really like that much, but you've said that that keeps you from buying new chips because every time you're at the grocery store in the chip section, you can tell yourself, oh no, I already have chips at home, so I won't buy any new ones. [00:34:38] Mike Brook: I absolutely do that, and I I had forgotten about that, but I do, I, I keep a bag of those those like vinegar, chips, those really kind of gross vinegar, salt and vinegar chips, which I don't like. I don't know who likes those, but I certainly don't, I keep those in the pantry with no intention of ever eating them because I, I, for some reason, having two unopened bag of chips in the pantry feels excessive but the one in there that I'll never eat is fine. That's just a proper amount. So thank you for reminding me of that. [00:35:13] Jill Brook: Well, I love that. I love it when people make their own idiosyncrasies work for them. [00:35:18] Mike Brook: Well, thank you so much, Jill. This was really interesting. I love talking about willpower with you. This is something that we've talked about a lot over the years. It's always really interesting and it's always kind of refreshing to see what the latest and greatest is in this field of willpower. And now we get to look at it in the context of something new, which is POTS. Listeners, this was part one of Willpower for POTS. We're gonna record part two shortly, so keep an eye out for that. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for subscribing. Thank you for being a listener of the POTS Cast. And remember that you are not alone, and please join us again very soon.

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