Willpower is a tricky thing. There are times when it’s super easy to forgo the sweet or fatty treat and stick to a healthier choice. Then there are other times, like when your boss yells at you or your kids are whiny, that your willpower goes out the window and next thing you know, you’ve eaten an entire pan of brownies or a whole bag of Doritos. Falling off track won’t kill you, but it’s important to get right back on. Then, use these tips next time you feel your willpower slipping and you won’t have to deal with the guilt later.
1. Give Yourself a Break Now and then
Willpower is like muscle power. You don’t want it on all the time or you won’t have time to get stronger or recover. All the experts say that you have to take a break and let your willpower go now and then. Knowing that you have this chance makes it infinitely easier to stick with things the rest of the time. Choose a time when you’ll let your willpower go, such as Sunday brunch, then make sure you engage it the rest of the week. You’d be surprised at what this little vacay can do for you.
2. Imagine Something Tense when You Feel Things Slipping
This might not sound like it would work, but studies have shown that slightly tensing can help you hold on to your willpower. Why? Because getting into a daydream about something you love, such as laying by the pool or reading your favorite magazine with wine, gets you all relaxed, lowering your inhibitions and therefore your willpower. Imagine yourself waiting to have the food that is unhealthy and you could find that you are able to skip it or eat just a tiny bit to satisfy a craving.
3. Distract Yourself with Something else
Did someone bring cupcakes to work again? Are your kids enjoying macaroni and cheese for dinner and you want some too? Finding something to distract yourself with can help lessen a craving and help you hold on to your willpower at the same time. Perhaps you go read a book or you call a friend. Going for a walk or tackling a big project you’ve been putting off are other good ideas. By the time you’re done, there isn’t likely to be any of the junk left and you’ll feel so great that you were able to resist.
4. Try to Control Stress Whenever Possible
I know this is way easier said than done, but when you are stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which increases appetite and thereby increases the chance that you’ll lose your willpower. It will take some practice, but with time you can counteract the cravings that cortisol produces. Yoga, aromatherapy, playing with your dog or your kids or going for a run are all great ways to lower stress.
5. Stop Looking at the End Result
Keeping your eye on the prize can help in certain situations, but it might not be that great for willpower. That end goal can be pretty overwhelming, whether it’s to lose 50 pounds or cut out sugar from your diet. If you look at it in smaller steps, such as losing 5 pounds or eliminating one soda a day, it will be easier to keep the willpower.
6. Forget What Others Say or Think
We’ve all been guilted into eating more than we wanted to by a well-meaning grandma or mother, but it’s time to stop doing that. Forget what others feel about your choices and do what’s right for you. Trying to live up to other people’s standards stresses you out, making it harder to hold on to your willpower. Practice being firm and sticking to your guns. You’ll get there soon enough!
7. Have a Plan for when It Gets to Be Too Much
Like I said before, giving yourself permission to slack now and then is a great idea, but when it’s not that time, you’ll need a plan for keeping your willpower. Perhaps that means keeping cookies and cake out of the house so you aren’t tempted. Or taking your own snack to the movies so you don’t give in to a huge tub of popcorn. Make a plan and stick with it and you’ll be good to go.
Which of these tactics do you think will help you? What else can you suggest?