Someday, I am very motivated to do the workout, nail my diet, and stick to my routines. But sometimes I do not feel like doing exercise at all, I eat all junk food, and I feel like crap. What is happening to me? Maybe I have used up all my willpower?
I am sure most of you have heard of this word before “willpower” but what does it really mean? What has to do with the power we got to be a success on weight loss and the next we might lose it all and fall off the wagon?
Let me introduce you to your own superpower (aka willpower). Think of willpower as our drive, determination, self-discipline, self-control, self-regulation, effortful control.
How do we refuse that chocolate cake after dinner?
What about we go out for a walk instead of watching Netflix all day?
And how do we keep being strong when we want to light up that cigarette?
Or we say no to our colleague about after work drink? That is your willpower!
I know it is not easy for all the things we have tested or experienced before and that were so good. It is those sweet temptations that we wanted to give ourselves in because it is easier to do that. But we have to say no because we have this big goal. However, sometimes it is easier to say no but sometimes I just say yes without thinking twice. How come?
Well because our willpower is limited just like the energy in our body if you have used them all up, you might still have some left within you, but it is going to be much harder for a very difficult task. Also, if you are tired, lack of sleep you tend to lose to those temptations easily.
Therefore you should use your willpower for the most important task first, for example, it might be work on your project first thing in the morning before you check your social media because you know that once you start to scroll down you will get sucked in for hours and by the time you realise you probably do not have this creativity anymore. Or in the evening put on your sneakers and just go outside for a walk before you sit down on a couch and turn on your Netflix because you know if you do that, you will be lazy for the rest of the evening.
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
In a classic willpower study, Walter Mischel, now a psychologist at Columbia University set out to study self-control in children, with a simple yet effective test.
Known as the marshmallow test (another good book recommended), Mischel and colleagues presented preschoolers with a plate of marshmallows. Each child was then told that the researcher had to leave the room for a few minutes and if they waited until his return, the child could have two marshmallows. If the child couldn’t wait, he could ring a bell, the researcher would immediately return, but he could only eat one marshmallow.
Years later, the research team followed up with these kids and found that the children who waited for the second candy were generally faring better in life scoring higher SAT’s and lower body mass index (BMI), 30 years after the initial test.
What is this telling us? Well if you have more self-control or self-discipline you tend to have more willpower, and those with will power will be more successful in their lives, career, financial, health, relationship.
Let me give you a few tips you can do to help strengthen your willpower;
Improve your self-awareness
Self-awareness is the ability to recognise what we are doing as we’re doing it. Our thought processes, emotions, and reasons for acting are an important part of making better choices.
For example, next time you caught yourself about to reach for a snack. Pause for a second and be honest with yourself. The essence is to train your brain to pause before you act. Am I truly hungry? Am I bored or upset about anything? Find the root of the problem and fix it; if you’re just thirsty then you might be dehydrated, if you are bored or upset then shift your focus to reading a book or find a hobby to do, but if you are upset then find out what causes or trigger that then see if you can fix it because those snacks might just give you just a quick fix but it isn’t going to nourish or heal you in a long term.
Meditation can be as simple as shift your focus to your breathing. Next time you are angry or upset before snapping at your partner or finishing a whole tub of ice cream just take a deep breath in 3 times; in through your nose and out through your mouth (if 3 times are not enough in this case, I recommend 5 times.) Practicing meditation will help you bring your awareness back to self.
Get your sleep in
A minimum of 8-10 hours. I could go on for an hour for a benefit of sleep but one of it would be it will help with your willpower. If we lack sleep, not only is our body tired but our willpower is weak. We will not be able to say no to the sweets because our brain cannot function well.
Go for a walk or choose an activity that you like. It is good for your lungs and heart. Plus, exercise will increase your willpower.
No one can hurt your feeling unless you allow them. Yet from time to time we do this to ourselves. If you feel bad about yourself or keep telling yourself negative things, you will weaken your own willpower. As human beings, it is normal to lose out to temptation sometimes. But try thinking of what your long-term goal is. If you lose it today to the temptation (because it is much easier) it will take you further away from your long-term goal.
Take home message: Be kind to yourself because in someday you might not have much of willpower and that is ok. Tell yourself it is ok and I will try again tomorrow because you will have the willpower back. Everyone got the superpower within them. Sometimes we might use it all up, use the few tips above to recharge.
Some people do not even know they have got the willpower inside of them. I suggest starting with choosing one thing that you always say yes to but today just say no for once, break that pattern. Trust me, once you can say no to the things that you think you cannot do without it feels so good. When you get the taste of your own willpower then it will be easier for you. Your willpower is like a muscle, same as when you are lifting weights you train your muscle to get stronger.
Saree Jitta is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition. She has been helped hundreds of women get their confidence back, get stronger mentally and physically. Through her coaching service, you will be transformed to have the discipline for exercise with a balanced diet, to live a happier and healthier life. Follow her inspiration on Instagram @sareejitta www.sareejitta.com [email protected]