WILLPOWER or motivation; either way you look at it, it can be extremely hard to sustain. Your personal willpower would never have been tested more vigorously than when it comes to weight loss and exercise.
Unfortunately for us, willpower can be so fleeting that we fail to sustain it for the duration that is needed to see considerable results in the areas we desire.
Is willpower overrated? Do we actually use willpower in day to day life or do we get accustomed to doing a habit because it has been practiced enough? If we base our results in life on willpower alone, we could potentially be setting ourselves up to fail. What we may need to do is create habits.
So what exactly is willpower? Willpower is a hyped up word for self-discipline or control. It is our ability to carry out the action we say we will and not be “tempted” by various circumstances or objects of desire. Willpower should really be called “skillpower”. The ability to make informed decisions based on skills we acquire to manage our everyday life in a more constructive way.
Clients ask me the same question “Why do I find it so hard to stick to a weight loss program?” The only answer to this question is “Have you got a big enough “why”?” To succeed at anything in life, we need a big enough “why”, or desire to be able to truly succeed at anything. All success in life begins with desire.
Equipped with the right information and resources it would be possible to eliminate the need to use a fickle emotion such as willpower. Given enough of a why we can turn an action into a habit.
Do you need willpower to brush your teeth in the morning? (I hope not!) Have you ever asked yourself why this is? The biggest “why” for this would be smelly breath and a foul tasting mouth all day! Any activity that gives a beneficial return is more likely to be stuck at.
Are you denying yourself by going on a weight loss program? If you are, you are possibly setting yourself up for failure. If you are so hungry on your “diet”, then you are bound to succumb to the temptations of junk food. It’s hard to have willpower in a situation like this!
Stop looking at food as either being good or bad and enjoy food. Instead of trying to banish eating your “forbidden foods” eat them more often. This way they then hold no power. Manage portion control and you may then eat whatever you want in moderation. You will then no longer need willpower to avoid them.
Do you see yourself as a healthy and fit person? If you do, then your actions will be in line with this perception. You will work out, you will eat well and you will lead a healthy life. Your self perception of yourself usually creates the actions in your life which then produce the required outcomes.
Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."
Make creating this “persona” a game. Give yourself 21 days of creating a healthy and fit person. Behave the way you want to become.
Action steps for Willpower: (Self Discipline)
- List each reason why you want to lead a healthy life. This helps you focus on what you want. Example; You will feel more energy and you will be good role model for your children or spouse.
- Now list why you would want to continue your old habits. If you watch too much T.V instead of exercising, list why. Examples include; Its more relaxing and I don’t have to do anything.
- Try and uncover what this habit is fulfilling for you. Example; not eating right and exercising means you don’t have to shift from you comfort zone and make an effort.
- Now ask yourself if these bad habits are actually fulfilling your needs. Example; Is T.V really all that relaxing? Do you really feel guilty after watching for hours and feel your time could have been better spent?
- Now look at a way in which you can fulfill this need doing a healthy activity. If you thought T.V relaxed you, you may now try yoga or pilates to really relax your mind and body.
- Set yourself up for success by having a no-fail environment. Leave your sneakers and gym gear near your door ready to go. Avoid shopping when hungry and try to buy less “junk” food for the house. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a true statement.
- Enlist the help of friends, family or a trainer to help you be accountable to someone else. Sign a contract with them of what you intend to carry out. Set up rewards for yourself along the way for added incentives.
- Visualise yourself to success. Visualise in your minds eye, you exercising every morning or eating well. Feel how fill of energy you are. Bring intense emotion into your mental picture. See yourself looking slimmer and more vibrant. Make a visual collage to reaffirm your goals. Get creative and very soon your actions will support your visualizations and you will be on your way to success. Never give up. Missed a day of working out? No problem, start over again today!
HealthMastery offers mobile 12 week challenges, personal training and personalised programs in your home, all over Auckland. www.healthmastery.co.nz. Ph, 09 266 3662