The power of will

My “Will” is like a less interesting Mary Poppins. The wind blows her in when I need her, but not when it would just be kinda cool to have her around. I know she’d never miss a visitation when a mysterious illness requires an exhaustive research initiative or when there is a problem in my kid’s school that needs immediate interference and correction. My Will is relentless and more than willing to be vilified or disliked when righting a wrong or protecting my loved ones.

But that’s the problem with Will. She’s kind of a drag. She’s never around for the fun stuff, such as staying up till midnight to sew matching Flintstones family Halloween costumes or whispering “you got this, pretty lady” in my ear as I hold my hand to a car for the third day in a row in hopes of winning it. In fact, Will wouldn’t even let me enter the free car competition in the first place. She’d be like, “Yeah, so I get that that sounds cool, but no.”

It’d be nice if once in a while she wasn’t such a party pooper and let me stay up past 9 or stay awake through a whole movie, but no-o-o. Someday I’ll know how those crazy kids made it work at the end of “The Fault in Our Stars.”

That is why it’s surprising when Will pays me a visit for something that’s just for my betterment. Her random and unexpected presence for the sweeter moments in life, such as gathering up the strength to ask a boy to the school dance or making Christmas cookies, is always welcomed. However, no matter the reason Will arrives, she always comes in the same exact way: like a bulldozer. “Will you go to the dance with me? You have three seconds to reply. Yes? No? Yes? No? Ding. Time’s up. No answer is a ‘yes.’ Pick me up at 6. Bring a corsage.”

I wouldn’t say she’s pleasant, but Will gets stuff done. Luckily, most things in my life don’t require my fickle pal to hang around, because they don’t take any great gusto of willpower to get done. Playing with my kids, completing a work assignment and volunteering are all done from a place of pleasure and duty. Very little Will required. Dieting, on the other hand, requires Will to have the strength of 10 “most hated” lists.

Last week, I mentioned my friend is on some absurd diet consisting of disgusting-tasting protein bars and sensible meals. This week, she persuaded me to try it sans bars. She promised I would get results, albeit more slowly, if I just followed the healthy eating requirements.

I’ve tried many diets before, but Will never flies in with her cool Mary Poppins bag of tricks, and inevitably, the nightly batch of nachos wins. But for some reason, this time felt different. The winds had changed, and my Will arrived. It is why when my friend told me I had to follow her recipes precisely — no eating less, no eating more — I wasn’t just on board; I was psyched. It is why when the recipe called for an omelet made of 14 eggs for dinner, I took it as a match worthy of a Rocky and Apollo Creed match. But in this version, I’d come out victorious.

Every bite after the fifth or sixth egg was painful, but I bulldozed past it. Every bite, I considered the poor hens who had laid eggs for two weeks straight only for me to demolish all that effort in a single sitting. But Will did not falter. I told myself, “There must be a reason I’m eating this much. The yolk must harden in my body, creating an impenetrable wall and preventing fats from going through. Yeah, that must be it!”

The next day, I called my friend to tell her I still felt sick from eating 14 eggs.

“Fourteen eggs?!” she exclaimed. “Why on earth would you eat 14 eggs?”

“It was in your recipe,” I said.

“Oopsies,” she responded. “Typo. I meant four eggs.”

I audibly groaned.

“Well, egg whites. Another mistake. How does anyone eat that much in one sitting?”

I groaned again.

“You know,” she said, “there’s a difference between willpower and stubborn stupidity.”

Hmm, I wonder whether my date to the school dance agrees.


Katie Langrock is a nationally

syndicated columnist.