Our recent weather has taken its toll on me, how about you? Sounds of thunder, lightning, and snow plows at the same time?! Postponing a Twins game due to winter storm conditions?! Could we possibly have a new cross-over season called swinter? In the words of Charlie Brown, ARGH!!! Yes, this weirdly odd weather pattern took its toll on my usual positive attitude, resilience, and self-control. While I didn’t totally blow my exercise and nutrition plans this past week, it wasn’t one for the winner’s circle. I joined many Minnesotans in hunkering down at home, finding a bit of well-deserved solace in comfort food, accompanied by an attitude that soon shifted to Minnesota Not-So-Nice.
As I reflected on this unexpected weather and its impact on wellness, two things came to mind: radishes and chocolates. No kidding. Read on. A study was done where a group of subjects sat around a table where two types of food were placed at the center: radishes and chocolates. The subjects were instructed to eat the food (and only that food) they were assigned. To make it even more intense, the researchers pumped the smell of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies into the room. All participants did as they were told. Then, all were given the same difficult puzzle to individually solve. The results: The radish eaters (compared to the chocolate eaters) made half the attempts to solve the puzzle, and gave up after half the time.
Why? The researchers concluded that the radish eaters had already drained their self-control and resolve in the first task. Self-control is, in fact, an exhaustible resource. What might appear as lack of willpower, or even laziness, can be exhaustion, making it more difficult to deal with other challenges. We can use up our self-control in a variety of situations—from stressful work, to difficult relationships, to dealing with..awful weather!
The weather-wellness connection started making sense. Minnesota’s recent “swinter” was a big ‘ol plate of radishes for me, and perhaps for you. It means drained energy, and with it, self-control. Does that give us a hall pass from our wellness journey until the weather starts behaving itself? No way. When we know the why-behind-the-what of our emotional response to a less than positive situation, we have even more capability to respond in a way we won’t later regret.
So get to that workout, pile that grocery cart with food that fills without later regret (perhaps skipping radishes this time around), and hang with people who choose to find humor in this crazy swinter season.