7 ways to boost your resolve
How to fight back when your willpower wavers
So you’ve decided to start eating healthily and exercising. You want to lose a few pounds, tone up, have more energy and feel better about yourself. And this time it will be different – if only you can maintain enough willpower to stick to it!
But willpower isn’t a muscle that needs to be exercised – it’s a state of mind affected by our environment, says health and fitness coach Joanne Henson. She says if we focus on changing our environment, we’ll change our willpower. Here are her top seven tips…
1 You only need willpower during times of temptation, so consider how you can remove temptation from any environments you can control, such as your home and office space. For example, if you don’t want to eat a whole packet of chocolate biscuits at your desk, buy individually wrapped ones, one at a time. Then it doesn’t matter if you feel you have no willpower – you won’t need it as there’ll be nothing to tempt you.
2 Be aware that many salty and sugary foods are made to be moreish. The problem isn’t you, it’s the food. So ditch the guilt, but ditch these foods too. Know that you are never going to be able to flex that imaginary mental muscle enough to eat them in moderation, so keep them for a very occasional treat.
3 If you do eat a sugary or high carbohydrate snack or meal, don’t be surprised if shortly afterwards your energy levels slump and your mind turns to more food. Those cravings aren’t a lack of mental muscle, but a physical condition. So try to avoid meals and snacks that are mainly carbohydrate and choose foods with a good proportion of protein and good fats – these will give you a more prolonged, steady supply of energy and, most importantly, no extreme blood sugar peaks and troughs.
4 If you’re trying to stick to an exercise regime, make it as pleasant as possible for yourself. Invest in some well-fitting kit in appealing colours – you’ll enjoy wearing it and you’ll feel so much better about yourself when you’re exercising. If you like to listen to music, make sure you’ve got your most uplifting music on your mp3 player when exercising. Exercise does not have to be painful, boring or unpleasant, so if you don’t like running, don’t go running. When you find something you enjoy, it won’t feel like a chore, and you’ll be much more likely to stick with it.
5 Make sure you fully commit to your plans. Remove the word ‘try’ from “I’m going to try to go to the gym three times this week.” Tell others what you intend to do – it’s always easier to let yourself down than it is to let others down.
6 Surround yourself with supportive and positive people. If your friends are constantly trying to tempt you to eat what they know you don’t want to eat, you’re going to struggle. Ask for their support and if they are good friends they should be happy to give it.
7 Finally, understand that healthy living does not have to be 100 per cent perfect. Aim for 80-90 per cent healthy and don’t beat yourself up for the occasional treat. If you’re eating a bar of your favourite chocolate with a side order of guilt, you won’t enjoy it, and what’s the point of that? Savour it instead, embrace the pleasure it’s giving you, and know that it’s not the end of your healthy intentions – pleasure is a nutrient too.