Skip Nav
Calorie Breakdowns
The Shocking Amount of Calories You'll Save Giving Up These 10 Foods For Lent
Workout Clothes
Work Out Like a Fitness Blogger in H&M's Stylish New Activewear Collection
Healthy Eating Tips
Meet Lucuma, the Superfood You Need to Know More About

Kelly McGonigal Interview About the Science of Willpower

Myths About Willpower — and How to Stop These Stories

Kelly McGonigal, PhD is the author of The Willpower Instinct, a book that has set out to prove self-control is attainable. During my interview with her, Kelly explained that willpower is "really about going after what you want most, and when we continue to define willpower as self-deprivation, self-punishment, it becomes impossible to find our willpower." Here's how Kelly said this impossible reality can be avoided.


A common myth about self-control is "the idea that you're born with fixed amounts of this trait." People often tell themselves plenty of lies such as "I don't have any willpower, but my sister has lots of willpower. Or Olympian athletes, they must have tons of willpower." As Kelly suggests, these self-fulfilling prophecies are only holding you back from reaching your potential.

Recognizing that "your inner experiences don't have to determine your choices" is a huge turning point for folks who believe they lack willpower. Instead of willpower being predetermined, Kelly says to think of it like "a muscle you strengthen by using it. By setting yourself challenges and practicing skills like paying attention, mindfulness, and tolerating distress." The same goes for fitness. "With physical discomfort, we think, my body is telling me to stop because this is too hard, and actually, it's exactly the opposite. The only way to change those [inner] experiences is to go through them with a sense of commitment to your goal. Exercising on that treadmill or staying on that bike in spin class does get easier with time. But it only gets easier when you're willing to tolerate that initial distress."

What tricks have you used to overcome a lack of willpower?

Image Source: Corbis Images
Around The Web
Unhealthy Foods to Give Up For Lent
5 Healthy (and Tasty) Food Substitutions
Tip to Prevent Overeating
Common Concerns About Periods
DIY Latin Remedies That Work
Best Lunch Recipes For Weight Loss
What Is Lucuma Powder?

POPSUGAR, the #1 independent media and technology company for women. Where more than 75 million women go for original, inspirational content that feeds their passions and interests.

Join The Conversation
Latest Fitness
X