Do you have a good grip on self-control? Do you have the willpower more times than not to start a challenge and see it to completion?
If so, that’s awesome. You deserve a medal. You’re one of a very select group of individuals.
I consider myself an all or none kind of person. If you place a piece of cake in front of my I will either eat the whole entire thing or none at all. I don’t have the power that some people (like my husband) have to be able to stop after one bite.
Because of that it’s been hard in the past to keep my willpower strong. When it comes to losing weight, I have fallen off the wagon a time or two. I’ve started the day off wrong and said “just forget it, I’ve already messed up. I might as well just continue eating crap today and start back tomorrow on my nutrition plan.”
Does this ring a bell? Please don’t tell me I am all alone!
Willpower and Self Control Are Depleting
I recently read a book that discussed self control and how it is a depleting resource. When used over and over again, our self control decreases which, of course, increases our changes of making bad decisions.
The theory, called Ego Depletion, isn’t new to me, but it’s also something that I haven’t thought about in a long time. It was nice to be reminded.
Studies lead by researcher Roy Baumeister have shown that willpower is much like strength training… when you first start lifting weight your muscles are tired and doing other tasks can be challenging.
The same is true here… if you practice will power with your eating, the chances of making bad decisions in other aspects of your life increase because your “willpower muscles” are sore/fatigued/overused.
This is why 90% of women fail at dieting and fitness goals… because they are putting so much pressure on themselves that instead of building up the self-control to say no to their favorite foods… they are breaking it down.
Let me ask you this:
If someone told you that you couldn’t eat chocolate, what would you find yourself thinking about?
–> Eating chocolate, right?
Of course, because the more we think about what we can’t or shouldn’t have the more we think about it. We obsess to point that when chocolate is finally placed in front of us we go to town.
But what happens if someone placed chocolate in front of you and told you to enjoy as much as you would like?
–> Chances are you would say thank-you and enjoy just 1-2 pieces.
Willpower isn’t used here, just conscious eating.
Does this mean we’re doomed? Are you doomed to never have the willpower to be successful?
Of course not! That would be silly! But having an understanding of willpower and self-control is extremely important so that you can then learn what builds yours up and breaks your downs.
What can you do to help strengthen the muscles? And lastly, what external influences can play a part.
Real Life Willpower Drainers
What are day to day activities that can drain your willpower?
The list is long but the most common include:
–> Dieting: Dieters that regulate food intake are more likely to end up binge eating, have a hard time with congitive tasks and are more likely to make impulse purchases.
–> Athletic performance: Test performed on athletes shows that their physical abilities can decrease if asked to perform a hard mental task prior. Trick: rest up before a big game!
–> Purchases: When willpower is decreased, people are likely to make more impulses purchases.
6 Tips To Have Superhuman Willpower
How can you keep your self-control and willpower going? How can you stay motivated to continue to move forward?
Of course your mood affects your decisions. The more sour your mood is, the more likely you’ll end up making poor emotional decisions. Eating the cake not because your body needs it but because you recently fought with your husband?
Prior to making decisions, ask yourself where the decision is steming from. Are you in an emotionally safe zone? If not, take a deep breath, go for a walk or a workout, call a friend up to chat.
Are you feeling guilty?
Did you indulge in a donut or two this morning and now you’re suffering from guilt? That guilt can then pull you back into the break room looking for the leftover donuts.
It’s really easy to pull the “I already messed up, so I’ll continue on today and get back on track tomorrow” mentality from guilt.
Or perhaps you missed a workout and that guilt has to wanting to do nothing more than to sit on the couch with chips and dip while you watch movies.
It’s okay to acknowledge the guilt, but then take a deep breath and push it aside. You’re not perfect, you’re not suppose to be perfect. But you can stop bad decisions from leading you to other bad decisions as the day goes on.
Brush it off and move forward.
Get some sleep!
Sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of decreased motivation. When you’re tired you do a lot of things different, the way you eat, think, move and even communicate changes.
For motivation and a strong sense of willpower, make sure to get the rest and sleep you deserve, 6-8 hours every night.
And if you have the opportunity, try to take a 20-minute power nap during the day. 20 minutes is all you need to refill your tank.
Don’t go hungry.
Have you seen the Snickers commercials with the “hangry” people… they’re so hungry that they aren’t themselves.
Doing anything hungry can lead to rash decisions, impulse purchases and binge eating.
When you start to feel hungry, eat something. It’s your body’s way of telling you you need fuel and energy… and willpower.
If it isn’t time for a “meal” and you’re trying to cut your snacking, keep foods around like raw veggies, fruit, nuts, etc… BUT keep them portioned out so you don’t go ravenous on them.
Remember above when I told you that you weren’t allowed to eat chocolate? And you could only think about chocolate?
Don’t obsess, practice moderation. By banning food from your life, you’re only going to make it harder on yourself and your success. Instead, all yourself a piece of chocolate each day, or 2 glasses of wine each week, or one meal out…
Learn moderation and you learn how to stay motivated!
And finally, have confidence in yourself that you can achieve your goals. Believing in yourself will help keep that fire lit so that you keep moving forward even when you may not want to.
Look at yourself in the mirror each day and tell yourself that you can do this. That you are a strong woman. You are a successful person. Nothing stands in your way.
And then… go after it.
Q: What’s the one food that if someone told you you couldn’t eat it, you would go crazy?
For me… coffee. I don’t drink coffee every day, but when I want it, I want it!
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