About Us





     Willpower and Self-Discipline, part 2

The Integram: an Integral Enneagram of Consciousness;  a model of consciousness, including all aspects, for designing practical paths of personal development and evolution.

Quick Links: so you can jump to any section

Feature Article 
No time?
Listen to the  podcast (8:48 min.) in the background while you file, exercise, ride to work, etc.
Upcoming Events
Feature Article 
Special Offers
Resource Links



Willpower and Self-Discipline, part 2
(click for podcast)

Biochemistry and What You Eat
Did you know that willpower uses so much energy, that our blood glucose levels drop? We’ll need further study to prove that it’s the brain using it, but the connection opens some interesting doors. 

Our brain monitors blood glucose levels, and most of our balanced systems seem to “prefer” a stable, steady supply. According to the research of
Roy Baumeister and John Tierney [Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Penguin Press, 2012] when we maintain a steady glucose level, our brain releases reserves, rather than holding back, and we have more available, enabling us to express more willpower. This is like how you might look at your bank account.  When you know you have a steady income stream, you budget and spend more comfortably.

When you have spikes and drops, you’re less inclined to spend, not knowing when the next influx is going to happen. Even when you have a spike, the lack of steadiness overrides any sense of surplus, and your brain still holds back on those reserves.

To help regulate a steady, stable glucose level that aids your willpower, keeps you feeling full and guilt free, Nutritionist and Certified Natural Chef Giovanna Garcia of "A Purified Life" advises
a medium piece of fruit (banana, apple, orange, pear) or 1-2 cups of berries with a handful of seeds/nuts, 1/4 avocado, or drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Having a bit of healthy fat with carbohydrates helps stabilize blood sugar rather than spike it, and triggers neurotransmitters telling your brain you’re full longer.

Willpower fatigues with use like a muscle, and needs to be rested and replenished.
Exerting self-control, whether avoiding a bad habit or engaging in a new good one, still consumes glucose, so we need to be very aware of the cycle this starts. Any desire for sweets will stimulate a craving just when our ability to resist is lowest.

Awareness is key. We need to use our resources intelligently, and remember that a craving only begets more craving. There are no neurotransmitters that respond to sugar with a sense of fullness or satisfaction.

Researchers have found that, on average, people spend four hours a day resisting desires. When we’re not increasing our reserves through focus meditation and glucose intake management, we’re using up far more time than we may realize.

The amount of energy we expend stopping ourselves from doing things that don’t serve us, can better be used on getting ourselves to do things we really want to do. 

This has the added benefit of getting a dopamine reward for our successes, rather than the dopamine reward for our failures. (yes, dopamine doesn’t discriminate, so we still get a short term reward for the donut, until our conscious mind kicks back in with regret and self criticism.)

Delayed Gratification is More Gratifying
When people resist temptation, their heart rate actually slows, while their heart rate variability and autonomic balance increases.  Since we know this is just one of hundreds of long term benefits, hopefully it makes it an easier choice over short term immediate gratification. Studies have shown that temptation lessens as we recognize the reward as creating the desire in the first place, thus creating stress. 

If we continue to bring to awareness the alleged reward creating stress, over time and with practice, it becomes less of a shiny object of attraction. We need to think of the alleged reward as a Trickster who’s not our friend. 

It may seem overly simple, but merely delaying the gratification builds the willpower muscles of the brain. Give yourself 10 minutes of delay time, and during that delay, get some physical distance from the “temptation.” Time and distance work cumulatively, especially with repeated behavior. The more we give ourselves this time and distance, the more we build our strength as a habit, and don’t need to exert as much effort. It literally becomes easier and easier to do what’s in our own best interests, and not succumb to self-destructive behaviors.

Over the long-term, we end up getting enormous benefits from achieving our goals, not sabotaging ourselves, feeling great, being healthy, and being in condition and in a position to really go for the big wins, not just the immediate gratification that inevitably leads to regret.

Stress Makes it Harder – Surprise!
Another complication is that stress shifts the brain toward the immediate gratification reward system.  Self judgment activates the amygdala’s fight or flight. In fight or flight, there’s no future in mind; just the immediate stress condition.  Short term will win over long term (real) desires.  Once again, our only defense is heightened awareness, and positive internal conversations, where we talk ourselves into being rational and long-term focused.

Focus sends energy to your neocortex instead of fight or flight sending it to your muscles. 
To activate the neocortex, reasoning, and your self-regulatory executive function, do the following:

1.      Observe your thoughts

2.      Mindfully feel your feelings

3.      Offer a gesture of care to yourself as if you were comforting a small child, because in a way you are.

Studies have shown that secure attachment increases willpower.  Secure attachment basically means growing up with a stable container for failures and discomfort, so we don’t seek self-soothing in other forms.

Dr. Mark Leary of Duke University has published research showing that guilt and shame push us toward the very behavior we’re feeling guilty about.  The more you feel badly about x the more you’ll seek x.  Doing a study with donuts, participants coped with feeling badly about eating a donut by eating another one.  This was dubbed the “what the hell effect.”  As in “I’ve already blown it, so…”

It turns out, not surprisingly, that the more we aspire toward a positive desired outcome, rather than merely stopping ourselves from immediate gratification, the faster and easier willpower becomes habitual second nature.  Since we’re engaging more of our rational self-regulatory brain to think about what we’re doing in the larger scheme of things, we’re less driven by thoughtless chemical cravings.  This becomes a cycle of awareness and mindfulness that smooths the path leading to our deeper, long-term desires, and gives us freedom.

Want to learn more about how to become the best you possible?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.

     - Ian J. Blei


July Freedom Offer:

For years I've been doing Freedom-themed workshops and talks in July, to celebrate Independence Day. We all want it, and yet almost everyone locks themselves into a kind of "prison" made of narratives, thoughtless cravings, and untrue beliefs.  Let's break you out of there!!!

I'm offering 3 complimentary Dynamic Discovery Sessions (1 session each) to the first 3 people (who haven't already worked with me) who email me this month's secret word: "Freedom"  Just put "I Want Freedom" in the Subject Line of your email, along with your contact info, and we'll schedule your session.

He combines his extensive knowledge of integral theory, the Enneagram, and neuroscience, in a seamless way (truly a Grand Unifying Theory of Everything), and helps you apply this greater understanding to whatever matters to you. He helps you build the trellis which you can hang any flower on that you choose.." - P.R., - S.F.

Each session is normally $249.00, and will be worth much more to you in life-changing ways.  Good luck! Click to Schedule.


Resource Links:

The Integram (TM) - the podcast series

Melissa Risdon's Raving Fan Radio Show:
Ian Blei on the
Integram (TM) -understanding ourselves, each other, and our relationships

Kind Ambition - 2nd Edition



Subscribe to the Integram



Welcome to the Integram, where consciousness meets intentional design.   Enjoy!



The Optimizer
Ian Blei,
Director of the
Institute for Integral Enneagram Studies and
President of
Optimized Results



Kind Ambition

Click HERE





Kind Ambition:
Practical Steps
to Achieve Success
 Without Losing Your Soul



Kind Ambition
Fan Page
now on



Kind Ambition is about you having the tools to slide over to the driver’s seat of your own life.  Circumstances will always be changing, seemingly thwarting our plans, but we don’t have to be  thrown around by them. You can be in charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.


Kind Ambition is written for you, as a practical guide you can use right now.  It is a collection of  insights and actions designed to help you move forward and get more out of your life at home and at work.  The chapters hold to a formula of first giving you a new way to look at things, then offering you tangible Action Steps to try them out, and finally some things to notice when you do.





Kind words for “Kind Ambition”


"If you are interested in success, whether it is in running a large organization, a small business, or leading a satisfying life, you will find a right blend of rules, wisdom and wit in a digestible fashion that will serve to accomplish your objectives. The notion that kindness can be blended with ambition and made to work and serve the "bottom line" is enlightening, uplifting and satisfying."

-Steven Kiefel – CEO, Red Pill Media




“An easy to use guide for anyone who wants to achieve real  growth and success. His sensible and practical tactics solve age-old challenges with real, how-to solutions. Best of all, Ian lives his work!”

-Romanus Wolter - Author: Kick Start Your Dream Business
Success Coach Columnist: Entrepreneur Magazine
Radio Host: Syndicated Kick Start Guy Segment




" We all face obstacles in our lives and careers. Some of these come from within, subverting our conscious intentions. The  good news is: they can be overcome.  The techniques and processes found in this book will help you on your way."

-Margaret Heffernan – Author: The Naked Truth: A Working Woman's

 Manifesto on Business and What Really Matters

Syndicated Columnist: Fast Company Magazine




“A scientifically-based, spiritually-awake, (and smart and funny) guide to making the most of your life.  Ian Blei provides the know-how, the inspiration, the structure and all the tools you need in  this straightforward and inspirational book.”

     -Lisa Betts-LaCroix, Past President of SF Coaches
Star of Unapix film, “Dance Me Outside”




" Ian Blei shares his deep insights in simple and straightforward ways.  His work continues to inspire me whenever I feel I'm getting stuck in some area of my life."

-Roy King, III , Senior Partner/Channel Marketing Manager - Skype





© 2001- 2022 Optimized Results. All Rights Reserved     205 Chattanooga St.   San Francisco, CA 94114     415.826.0478