Posts Tagged ‘Change’

Crystal Mayhue, a 35-year-old massage therapist and SAHM (Stay-at-Home-Mom), balancing her part-time business with raising two young sons and  hanging out with her husband as well as CrossFitting, contacted me about her CrossFit experience. I loved what she had to say, and want to pass it along to you.  Crystal, you now have the floor (or screen…whatever):

From Crystal’s Pinterest board

I started CrossFit recently and I am so addicted. I refer to myself as “Chunky Girl Works Out.”

I started referring to myself as “chunky” after my first pregnancy. I’d developed a serious B12 deficiency which triggered a case of RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) of epic proportions. The baby came and the RLS never went away. Baby number two was also a fan of B12. Lets just say RLS is here to stay.

As a result, I am constantly sleep-deprived which has resulted in weight gain. I would never have called myself an athelete, but I spent years weight training and doing cardio. As long as I kept an eye on what I ate and made sure I was physically active, my curvaceous body was kept in check. The minute the RLS hit and sleep was something I could not accomplish, the curves turned to “CHUNK”! I even have a Pinterest board ( named for it.

I waited two years to get into CrossFit for many reasons. I found out about CrossFit by way of Facebook, of course. I had reconnected to an old high school friend and she was always talking about going to “CrossFit.” I asked her about it.

I have what I lovingly refer to as “Exercise A.D.D”. I get bored so easily. I find running boring so I started doing mud runs like the Warrior Dash and the Merrell Down & Dirty. I got bored weight training on my own so I started taking BodyPump.

So, when my friend tried her best to explain the beast that is CrossFit, I was very intrigued. I turned to Google to find out more. Thirty minutes into my research I knew that sooner or later I was going to start CrossFit! The idea that it was mix of cardio and weight training and could happen indoor or outdoor and then you throw in kettle bells and a garage type atmosphere … I was in Exercise A.D.D heaven!!

One of the reasons for delaying my first CrossFit experience was “Super Fit Girls + Super Ripped Guys= WTF stares at Chunky Girl Works Out.” I had the itch to try it so bad I even had thoughts of setting up a backyard CrossFit.

I turned to my dear friend Google and his girlfriend Pinterest to see what it would take to create a “box” in my own backyard. I found I could do it on the cheap. But, honestly, I still didn’t totally grasp the whole of what CrossFit was and felt like I needed more instruction. And, quite frankly, I run a house and family and I am constantly in charge and making decisions. Sometimes I just want someone to tell me what to do and how to do it so I don’t have to think about it. I know, sounds lazy. But I’m a Mom, a wife, and I have a part-time Massage Therapy business. I don’t want to have to come up with my own workouts. I want someone to tell me what to do for once.

I have two boys. Very. Busy. Boys! My oldest will be seven in November and is in the first grade. My youngest is four and now attends all day PreK at the same elementary school as my oldest. I was overwhelmed at what the heck I was going to do all day. The idea that my baby was going to start school totally knocked me down. I knew that I was going to have to find something to do that would excite me or I was going down for the count.

We are a “traditional” family, I guess you could say. My husband works and I, for the most part, stay at home with my kiddos. The idea that I was no longer going to have my little buddy to take care of all day still brings me to tears. So, I set my sights on CrossFit. I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to see if it was as awesome as I had made it out in my mind to be.

So, I found a CrossFit box and signed up.

Finding a CrossFit box in my area wasn’t easy. When I first looked into CrossFit, there was nothing close to me. One day, I happened to be talking to a nurse in my doctors office  and she mentioned she did CrossFit. She raved about her box. She said the coaches were awesome and the members were like family and that she was in the best shape of her life. So, I went to the official CrossFit website and looked it up. Two CF boxes had opened in a somewhat close proximity to my home.  I only visited one of them. My nurse was so passionate in talking about her CF box, CrossFit of Locust Grove (Georgia), that I never doubted that it was the one for me. When I met the owner, Todd Springer, I was impressed with how he continually talked about CFLG being a family.

I started on a Monday morning. There were about twelve people in the class. There were men and women ranging in age from early twenties to late forties in a spectrum of fitness levels.

The first day I almost puked because I knew these people were going to die when they saw Chunky Butt walk in. But, you know. I have never met people more eager to help and guide and cheer a person on. I have belonged to many gyms…Gold’s, local athletic clubs, YMCA…. never have I ever had people so willing to help me catch on and want me to succeed.

The first person to speak to me, other than Todd the owner/coach, was a very fit, thirty-something woman. During each part of the WOD she made sure I knew where the equipment was, showed me what to do, and gave me encouragement. I was shocked. I tell you, I spent hours at my local Y before anyone ever even spoke a word to me. But, during a WOD that consisted of way too many push ups and box jumps, I had people that I had only laid eyes on that day telling me not to stop, to push through and that I could indeed finish the last round.

Since that first day I have attended morning, afternoon and evening classes. Each person I come in contact has been as helpful as the first. We have a Facebook group for members. People are always posting about getting together to go to events, or telling another member how great they did during the day’s WOD or just posting life stuff. They are family. We are family.

I have been apart of CrossFit of Locust Grove for two months. And, when my Dad was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, the outpouring of understanding and compassion from my CrossFit family rivaled that of my church family. Sometimes when you are mad at the world and feel like you have no control over anything—you just need to drag a tire across pavement, do a hundred burpees and seventy-five squat jumps and then hear someone tell you just how beastly you are because you finished.

CrossFitters, for the most part, really seem to have a passion for athleticism and really want for others to feel the same euphoria they do when finished with a WOD.  But, believe me, I know the fear of walking into a crowd of super fits….YIKES!!…..but I strongly urge everyone that is curious about CrossFit to visit their local box. The outpouring of support and  camaraderie that you get being apart of a CrossFit family far out weighs the nervousness you feel when walking into your first CrossFit class.

You can contact Crystal Mayhue by email at massage_momma (at) att (dot) net.


Today I’m turning over the blog to Rick Martinez of Transition Possible. As the daughter of an Air Force fighter pilot, the niece of an Army Ranger and Green Beret, the cousin of an Iraqi War vet from the Coast Guard, and the mother of an EOD tech, living in a world populated with active-duty servicemembers, reservists, retirees, veterans and their dependents, I know too many individuals and families who bear a heavier burden than the average American for the various armed conflicts our country has been involved in. No matter how you feel about the politics behind the conflicts, the intrinsic honor and sacrifice of our servicemembers are not diminished nor tarnished by performing their duties. 

My name is Rick Martinez and my mission is Transition Possible. I am a retired Army nurse, an entrepreneur, the head vision-keeper of the Fitness Porvida movement, the owner of two CrossFit gyms and the founder of an organization that allows us to support and celebrate our nation’s heroes. It’s my moral obligation and I believe it is one that we all have.

Picture from Transition Possible

The parents of SPC Tracy Willis, who was killed in action in 2007 in Afghanistan. Transition Possible held a fundraiser in Willis’s honor and named the WOD “Tracy. “(Photo Credit: Transition Possible)

Transition Possible’s mission is four-fold:

  •  To positively impact the lives of our nation’s heroes
  • To encourage them to continue living and achieving through sport and functional athletics
  • To show the world that the warrior spirit can thrive no matter the circumstance
  • To bridge the gap between wounded heroes and citizens

As I post this, we are one day away from the launch of the world’s first non-profit whose vision is to create mentorship and leadership programs through which wounded heroes and adaptive athletes can find a new path or career in the world of sport. Think entrepreneurial boot camp for heroes.

On Saturday, October 6, 2012, in San Antonio, Texas, we will host the Warrior Summit II, which will bring together the nation’s best coaches, U.S. Paralympians and adaptive athletes to prove that CrossFit can be for everyone. In the evening, we will be hosting a special fundraiser (tickets available here) with keynote speaker Kyle Maynard — an ESPY-award winning athlete and one of the most motivational individuals in this world. “An Evening with Heroes” will celebrate adaptive sport and our nation’s heroes and will raise funds to support Transition Possible.

Why does this vision, this launch and this cause matter?

Let me share Mike’s story:

How a daisy-chain IED is set up. (Photo credit:

Mike Gallardo is a Tribe Member and he is an amputee. His dream was to become an elite trooper, “Delta Force,” he says, to serve his country. The events of February 7, 2008 had a different path for Mike. That’s when his platoon was hit by a daisy-chain IED. That’s when he, for lack of better words, became broken.

Folks, that’s when Mike’s hopes and dreams were radically changed because he made the choice to serve. To protect us. Mike came to us some time ago, buy us I mean Fitness Porvida, and it was evident that though broken physically, mentally he was not bowed. He attacked the program and embraced CrossFit as a means to a new end. The Tribe was his new platoon.

Mike Gallardo at work … or play? (Photo Credit: Transition Possible)

The WODs were his new mission.

But where does it go?

How does that fulfill a destiny?

Even more, how does that offer a life of fulfillment where a man can support a family, start a career and be a productive citizen?

Mike was integrated into the Tribe (as we call it at Fitness Porvida), accepted as a regular Joe and soon he started a 90-day internship pilot program to test the efficacy of making a coach/trainer a viable career option.
Here are his words:

The internship helped me in many ways people can’t see. It has helped with my PTSD because I did not like to be around lots of people. The Tribe made me feel at home and that I can trust people once again. It helped with my TBI because before I could barely remember my own birthday, now I can remember over 50-100 members names. It also helped me be a little more organized because I have to plan my day and keep a daily planner for my tasks.


Soon after, Mike was offered employment as a coach at Fitness Porvida. He’s one of the finest coaches
we have EVER had. In his words,

Fitness Porvida has been very helpful because they have set me up for success. They helped me make goals for myself and accomplish them ahead of time. They helped me become a good coach, but they still are in contact with me to make me a great coach. Not only did they treat me with respect, they treated me as part of the family.

Now imagine doing this ten-fold, folks

Transition Possible exists to make this transition possible.

Today it’s Mike.

Tomorrow … well … tomorrow depends on you.

Be a part of making the transition possible.

~ Rick Martinez

The Illness/Wellness Spectrum

I’ve thought about illness to wellness spectrum (above) a lot lately. Whenever I think about it, I recall civil defendants’ attorneys describing “a preponderance of the evidence” as meaning the plaintiff has to push a boulder over the top of a peak before a jury can conclude that the plaintiff has won the case. (Plaintiffs’ attorneys, on the other hand, will start out like an Olympic diver at the top of a platform with outstretched arms, but with more clothes, and begin see-sawing to explain that the scales just need to be tipped.)

Pushing a boulder up a mountain is not a bad metaphor for getting fit when you’re already chronically ill. Or, better, climbing an icy slope with a backpack. You gotta push up that slope, and any time you lose your grip or your balance, you start sliding back down that damn mountain, with the load of the past dragging at you.

And now I think I may have found an ice axe, which you use to stick into an icy slope to make sure you don’t slide any farther. The maneuver referred to as a self-arrest. I like that term: You stop yourself before you start picking up speed on your way down. From Wikipedia:

 The longer the delay of the climber before he/she starts to put weight on the axe’s pick the longer s/he freely accelerates down the slope.

Ariel Bravy learns to self-arrest with an ice axe on St. Mary’s Glacier, Colorado.

In the past I’ve worked out and thought, gee, I feel better now, but when I stopped, I had to think about it before I realized I kind of missed it.

That’s not the case any longer. These days, at the three-day no-workout mark I start declining and find myself in increasing pain. That’s when I use the ice axe. It is something that makes me say to myself that there is no more time for delay, no excuse, and that if I don’t do something now, even if it hurts, things will just get worse.

I’m not talking about the stiffness and pain of the morning. That’s one of the reasons I hate waking up. I start out sleepy and warm, and then the fog dissipates and, like a morning glory, my pain opens to the sun. But those creaks tend to even out (or at least recede into the background) as the day goes on and I warm up.

Nor am I talking about DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), the sore you get from breaking down and rebuilding muscles. (I almost like that pain; it means I’ve done something to push myself.)

No, the pain that is the warning arrives at night when I try to go to sleep that tells me I’m starting to fall. No anti-inflammatory will make it go away. I can’t reposition my body to ease it. Ice nor heat will beat it into submission. It’s a bone-deep ache that generally affects me from the hips down. And when it happens, I either have to be so sleepy that I could fall asleep while someone was amputating my leg, or I have to get out of bed and at least stretch in order to get the pain level down to the point I can sleep.

On those nights, I wake up knowing that no matter what is hurting me, I’ve got to do *some* sort of exercise. Time for the ice axe.

I’ve crawled out of bed, ate a little something and hydrated, then exercised, and crawled back to bed, completely spent for the day. I’ve exercised with a night mask and ear plugs (on better days, inside with sunglasses) because of a migraine (and had it get worse during the exercise). I’ve exercised with twinges in my knee that I jammed. I’ve had nausea and dizziness while working out (when light-headed, I try to make sure I don’t do anything that involves standing with a heavy weight). I’ve sneezed, hacked, coughed, wheezed and otherwise been an allergy queen during my workouts..

I’ve had a lot of what I’ve come to call fibro spasms (more intensely during workouts; they seem to lay off once I stop): the closest I can come to describing it is that an area along any muscle fiber of about 3 inches long and a half-inch wide that suddenly hurts as if someone pushed into a particularly tender bruise. It lasts for less than 30 seconds in any given spot, then wanders to kick a different muscle.

But none of that deters me once the three-day ache kicks in; it makes me  use all my will to plunge my imaginary ice axe into the side of the friggin’ mountain and say to myself, “Yeah, this sucks, but do you really want to hit the bottom of this slope at full speed?”

And I work out. It may be modified or scaled because of whatever is going on, but I get out of bed and move and lift and stretch.

Someday I’ll get over the top and let the backpack coast down ahead of me and spill out a million fragments. And then I’ll walk down the other side.

I have a tendency to end up in tl;dr land, and I realized that some of the most important things I was trying to communicate in my recent “Deep Space Mind” post were lost because I spent so much time leading up to them. So here is the Reader’s Digest version of how to avoid motivation-sucking mindsets:

  1. We all have lies we believe about ourselves, and tend to gravitate toward them when we’re blue, tired, hormonal or otherwise not at our best.
  2. Identifying those lies is an important step to getting out of cycles of negative thinking. Identification may come through any of the following methods (not all-inclusive, by any means), depending on your preference:
    1. Self-reflection: What am I thinking and why am I thinking it? Does the thinking stem from emotion or rational thought?
    2. Meditation: Often in the process you come to moments of clarity about what’s going on when your mind stills.
    3. Prayer: I see this as a subset of 2, just a matter of whom you attribute the message to.
    4. Cognitive therapy: When you need some assistance with the process described in 1.
  3. Dealing with the lies through the method best suited to you. My two favorites are:
    1. Reframing: Shift your perspective through a different interpretation of the facts.
    2. Self-talk (your internal running commentary): Respond to internalized, emotional thoughts welling up in you with reasoned statements based on facts. For example, when I think to myself that someone’s reaction is due to something I did and have no concrete basis for the belief, I start saying to myself “It’s not always about you.” Over the years, my natural tendency to immediately think that everyone upset near me was upset by me has morphed into a stance of stepping back and reviewing before personalizing something. Except when the person upset is my husband. Then it surely must be about me.
  4. When you begin to drown in these lies or negative thought patterns, reach out to your support system to help. Often they will point out facts that belie whatever your current negative obsession is.

Cool. Finished that in less than 500 words. Didn’t think it was possible.

I reposted the Greatist Graphic that I originally posted about a year ago because I was looking at it to evaluate whether I would consider what I do now High-Intensity Interval Training…or if I could consider what I do CrossFit.

I guess it depends on how you view it. The level of exercise I’m doing certainly has sections that, for me, are aerobic, although others would find them no more challenging than getting off the couch. My current exercise regime is, however, anything but quick.

On the other hand, I came across Kelly Starrett’s blog, MobilityWod, which I’ve added on the resources to the left. I’ve mentioned him in earlier posts, as he’s a fairly well known within the CrossFit community as a physical therapist who is a CrossFit trainer (among other things). Anyway, I came across the following statement from Kelly:

I’ve long maintained that you are an infinite healing machine, at any age, forever.  This simple equation reads:  Right Lifestyle + Right Movement = Perfect Healing/Adaptation Human Machine.

That doesn’t necessarily address how you define CrossFit or High-Intensity Interval Training, but it does hit the basic point: Whatever you call it is irrelevant (except to the extent that it may indicate the philosophy of the particular program), the point is being consistent, addressing your shortcomings and doing the best you can.

The quote comes from a post called “Measuring Lifestyle and Nutrition,” which includes, in the first video (from YouTube, below), a discussion of personal biology and performance between Kelly and Jim Kean. The sound quality is a bit poor, and the conversation wanders a little, but it touches on what you can and cannot control and that there is always hope, as long  as you’re working at fixing the problems.

I write about change and motivation a lot because I know I need to change my attitudes as much as I do my actions, as all actions originate in thought.

So I thought I’d talk about the progress I’ve made, since today I realized I’d made some in the upstairs department.

As you may know, the past month has been a struggle. I’ve had setbacks because of health issues: injuries, illness and minor surgery. I’ve felt my time has been more limited due to some additional responsibilities, and was discouraged that my record-keeping and blogging had suffered as a result.

I had a two-day migraine for my weekend activity, but today I finally felt better. And I realized that, although I was not happy I hadn’t been able to work out the past two days, I hadn’t doubted (for a change) that I would start back as soon as I could. And today, when I woke up enough to realize I really did feel better, I was not just ready to exercise, but juiced about it. My husband had to dial me back a notch.

I set up the items I needed in the garage and went back in to do my treadmill warm-up. Put on Pandora and got two songs I liked and can add to the repertoire (The Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” and Duran Duran “Hungry Like the Wolf).

It’s amazing how fast the garage can heat up in less than 20 minutes during August. Oy. Note to self (and anyone else with GERD): When working out in the heat, make sure you’ve taken your Nexium enough ahead of a workout or you’re gonna get reflux.  And start hydrating sooner.

And yet I was still pumped to work out. I think perhaps that it’s because, although I generally am in denial about it, I have a competitive streak, and even more to my chagrin, I only like to compete when I think I’ve got a chance of making some sort of showing. The fact that I’m only competing against myself makes it easier to win, at least as long as I stick with it.

I’m sure there will still be days when I’m dragging myself by the hair to go work out, but it’s rather a shock to me, who abhorred the thought of exercise, that I can, on occasion, actually work out with pleasure.

Is the will the strongest force in the universe? Perhaps, if it could be leashed.

But most of us have difficulty leashing our will enough to offer the last cookie to everyone before gulping it down. I’m apparently not the only one wondering about our collective will. Adam Bornstein, reflecting on the USA women’s soccer team’s performance against Brazil at the World Cup, mused about it in his blog post, “The 3 biggest fitness lies“:

I found myself wondering if an entire country could channel the same relentless will to succeed.

I’ve often thought that if I’d ever gone back to school and gone into psychology, I would want to explore will (aka volition, self-control, self-discipline, self-regulation) among outliers. You see, my late grandfather is an outlier. His parents were alcoholics, the family lived hand to mouth, moving place to place in Oklahoma within the Choctaw nation. Of his nine siblings, only he and the eldest of his sisters escaped the poverty and alcoholism of that crowd. My grandfather retired with a respectable income (from two retirements) and a nice little nest egg. He began smoking when he was nine. He gave it up cold turkey in his early 70s after watching his brother-in-law die of emphysema. That’s willpower.

I think of him and wonder what it was that made him and his sister different. What was it that made them two of the few to overcome their conditioning, their childhood disadvantages to escape the trajectory anyone would have predicted for them?

In today’s attempt to find answers about how to harness willpower, I turned to some academic journals. Most of the articles are written in the context of rehabilitation, whether from addiction, heart attacks or strokes, but they still have some applicability for those of us trying to change a lifetime of bad habits into a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise (whether CrossFit or something else) and weight loss.

Generally, we start with goal-setting: I want to lose 100 pounds, for example. That’s a big goal; I’m trying to slice it into easier chunks,  like diarying what I eat with MyPlate and trying to make eating healthy within limits as a daily practice rather than obsessing over the scale (which,  I confess, is a struggle). And I try to CrossFit as much as I can; as I said in my last post, this month has been challenging because some of my health issues are trying to resurface (but I did my WOD today, thank you very much; I feel shaky, nauseated and headachey, but at least I accomplished something).

But even goal-setting can be troublesome.  Dr. Richard J. Siegert,  Dr. Kathryn M. McPherson and Dr. William J. Taylor note in a paper published in Disability and Rehabilitation, a professional journal, that

The goal-setting process for many patients (and clinicians) is marked by frustration, difficulty and perceived failure.

Why? Because, they say, that the people setting the goals are largely the professionals, and the patients don’t really take an active role in deciding what their goals are.  If you do not set the goal yourself, you are not emotionally vested in it.

Shocked? No, not me. As long as it was other people telling me what I should do and how I should do it, or when I set goals that were really more about trying to please others, I never achieved them.  I had to set my own goals based on my own desires, and it wasn’t about “knowing” what I should do. Most of us “know” what to do to fix our weight and fitness problems: exercise more, eat less (and better).

It’s kind of like the neurologist who idiotically told me that I was “too intelligent to commit suicide” when he put me on a drug that made me think about it all the time. Or the numskull who sat in my car and said “Only stupid people must be drug addicts.” No, no, no! It’s not about intelligence; it’s about pain (at least in those two cases). Suicides and drug addicts are generally trying to escape their pain. And relatively recent studies have demonstrated that emotional pain is perceived by the brain in the same place as physical pain. In fact, emotional pain may even be worse.

Food often plays the same role in fatties’ lives; we eat our emotions away. In fact, that’s one of the reasons prospective lap band surgery patients are given psychiatric evaluations first; profound depression can kick in after the surgery because the patients no longer have food available as a way to comfort themselves.

So doctors Siegert, McPherson and Taylor suggest that not only should the goals be set by the patients, but that the emotional impact of goal-setting be included in deciding on goals. They look at it through the lenses of self-regulation, which seems to indicate that people have hierarchical goals that emanate from their sense of self. In other words, if you see yourself as a kind person, you will set specific goals that are consistent with kindness. And the bigger the gap between the goals and your sense of self, the more emotional interference you’ll have with reaching your goals.

So, if you see yourself as undisciplined (or, as I would say about myself, in a more positive light, spontaneous and easy-going), then goals that interfere with your sense of self can be tough. I do see myself as spontaneous (and wildly independent), so making myself settle into any routine has been tough. But I’m reframing the idea of routine as “inflexible” by allowing myself flexibility (to some extent) in timing and, more importantly, in seeing that healthy routines make it more possible for me to do things I’d like spontaneously. It’s been the unhealthy lifestyle that has chained me to limited activities, not a healthy routine.

So, for success, you have to fit your goals into your self-image. And then, you must make sure you don’t sabotage yourself with goals that are unattainable or delayed (back to the “slice it up” scenario). Quoth said docs:

[A] wide range of emotional reactions occurred after brain injury or stroke, with the four most common responses being frustration, sadness, fear and worry … For example, frustration arises when goals that were quickly and easily achieved previously, now require an immense effort and are achieved very slowly or not at all. Similarly, sadness arises when goals that were considered important for maintaining an ideal self-image now seem unattainable.

So, if you’re frustrated or sad in the pursuit of your goals, perhaps you need to evaluate whether they are realistic (for example, in the CrossFit world, have you scaled down the WODs sufficiently) or consistent with your view of yourself.

Another possibility is that you don’t believe in free will.  Kathleen D. Vohs and Roy F. Baumeister assert in an editorial called “Addiction and Free Will,” published in Addiction Research and Theory, that if you believe you have no control over your actions, you have difficulty changing them:

Belief in addiction is often tantamount to a disbelief in free will, at least within the circumscribed behavioral sphere involving the addiction. Our recent research has suggested that such a belief can cause problems.

The idea that people are not fully in control of their own behavior stretches back into antique notions of demonic possession, divine command, and other supernatural volition. In modern life, people often claim reduced responsibility for their own actions by citing social factors, societal oppression, emotional distress, external provocation, mental illness, drugs, and other factors.

In a curious parallel to ideas of demonic possession, modern science has promoted the view that people are not free to choose or control their actions …

Addiction is a particularly potent form of the belief that people cannot control and are not responsible for their actions.

[Researchers]  found that making people disbelieve in free will caused them to cheat more than others on a test, especially when they could make money by cheating. Further work has confirmed the antisocial effects of disbelieving in free will. These effects include increased aggression toward other innocent persons and reduced helpfulness toward needy strangers … Disbelief in free will seems to make people less likely to think for themselves, as reflected in greater conformity to other people’s judgments … and lesser willingness to articulate personal lessons from their own guilty misbehaviors.

Now, see, I used to think “free will” versus “predestination” was largely a theological discussion with little practical point; from our point of view, we make choices, so why does it matter if they’re predetermined or not? Apparently it does matter. If you don’t believe that you have control over what you’re doing, you won’t exercise your will to change when change is painful.

Of course, we aren’t in control of everything. I have a genetic defect that makes it harder for my body to make enough serotonin, setting me up for a cascade of problems that manifest physically and psychologically. Recognizing this reality, Vohs and Baumeister come up with a rather brilliant solution:

Our view is that the debate about free will in addiction, like the broader debate about free will in all human behavior, is unlikely to be won by either extreme view … Self-control is an important form of what people understand as free will, and the capacity for self-control is real but limited – thus neither complete nor completely lacking. The traditional notion of willpower may be useful here, especially if one understands willpower as a kind of psychological energy that fluctuates as people use it up and then re-charge it … Free will is a partial, sometime thing.

So, yes, Green Lantern, you’ve got a powerful force there. But it’s not as stable as your mythos would have it. You do have days when imposing your will is easier and other times when doing what you know is the right thing for your body is tough. But it is there. It is strong. And it can change your life.