Temptation Strikes: Strategies to Boost your WillpowerApril 19th, 2012
Willpower can be a limited resource when it comes to diet and exercise. Every person struggles with willpower in some capacity. Temptations are around every corner and the ability to make the right choices directly correlates to the strength of an individual’s willpower. But willpower is not static. With the use of some simple strategies willpower can be improved, strengthened and used to achieve fitness goals and overcome dietary obstacles.
Finding the willpower to start exercising can sometimes be the hardest step. Going from spending little to no time exercising to exercising regularly is a prime example of where willpower is hugely important. The best first step is to set some goals that are short-term, achievable, and workable. This affords you the ability to actually strengthen your willpower. For example if you decide “I’m going to walk 3 days a week for 20min each day” that is a very reasonable goal. If you find this is still difficult, take it even a step further by making the goals very concrete. Grab a calendar and schedule your 20min walk on 3 days a week and plan your work and social schedule around those exercise sessions. Once you start accomplishing these goals you will find it is easier to put exercise at the forefront of your “to-do” list and the strength of your willpower will grow. However, maintaining an exercise regimen is the next hurdle many individuals count on willpower to overcome.
Keeping a consistent workout schedule can be a difficult process, but with the right approach it can be made easy. One strategy that works for a number of people is to work out with a friend or to attend group exercise sessions. This will create a co-dependency that forces your willpower to grow so when you decide to exercise on your own, finding the motivation will be much easier. Also, pursuing activities that you find fun and enjoyable are sure fire ways to keep you on track. As you continue with you workout schedule continue trying to add variety, fun, and entertaining activities as keeping things interesting will catalyze the growth of willpower.
Dietary willpower comprises the other half of the fitness equation that equates to a healthier lifestyle. Just like exercise, starting healthier eating habits begins with a lump of willpower that is sometimes hard to find. Some key first steps are to again set goals that make sense. For example, “I’m going to cut out fast food” or “I’m going to cut out sugary drinks”. Simple, concrete, and easy to accomplish goals like these are great ways to test your willpower and build its strength. If you want to enhance things even further consider setting up activities to replace eating habits you want to avoid. For example, if you plan the next time you want to eat a huge lunch to go outside and walk then eat a smaller lunch instead you can know ahead of time what your plan is so making the right choice is much more manageable.
Willpower is not fixed, it can be improved and it is largely important when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Whether your willpower is weak or fading, with some fresh approaches you can get started or get back on track. Also, willpower is a skill important to almost every aspect of life, not just exercise and diet; therefore, it is a trait worth cultivating. So the next time a cupcake or the couch rear their heads at you, believe in yourself and your willpower to avoid the temptation!