How Important Is Willpower in Maintaining a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle?
How important is willpower when it comes to our ability to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle? Is it possible to change poor eating habits to healthy ones if you don't have a lot of willpower?
My answer: The more willpower you have the easier it will be, but perfection isn't necessary.
No one wants to admit that they lack willpower or self-control, but the truth is, none of us has an unlimited supply. Some days we may have less self control than others, but that makes us normal, not imperfect.
When it comes to healthy living, a healthy dose of willpower is helpful. The good thing is, once you've had the willpower to resist certain unhealthy choices and adapt healthy ones, willpower is needed less and less because your new choices become habit.
If you have unhealthy habits, it is possible to change them into healthy habits. They say it takes about three weeks for something to become a habit (or to unlearn a habit), so those first three weeks are when willpower is most needed. And there are things we can do to help maintain our willpower during these critical times. Here are a few tips...
1. Have a plan for dealing with times of low willpower. Making the plan before you've lost your willpower is key. Think of all the possible problems that could arise, and then come up with some ways to help you overcome them.
For example: If eating healthy is your goal, make sure you have a lot of healthy alternatives available for the days you're feeling you must eat something that you know you shouldn't. If you don't think that will work, then go ahead and eat what you're craving, just limit yourself to one serving of it (rather than the whole box). If you think it will help, write down your solutions to the possible problems in a journal or on a post-it note, and review them frequently.
The most important thing is to be prepared. Because it's not a matter of will you have a moment of weakened self-control, it's a matter of when.
2. Find ways to reduce the stress in your life. Emotions definitely play a role in the amount of willpower we have on any given day. If you're an emotional eater, you know what I'm talking about. Do what ever you can to reduce stress in your life. Here are a few ideas...
- Take a bath or a walk on the beach.
- Read a book.
- Have some quiet time.
- Try meditation.
- Use positive affirmations.
Do what ever you can do to reduce the stress in your life. This isn't just a way to help your willpower, this is a necessary component of healthy living.
3. Have a glass of orange juice. Studies show that glucose is a key ingredient that your brain needs to help maintain an effective level of self-control (willpower).
4. Exercise the willpower muscle. Don't wait for something huge to come along and challenge your willpower. Instead, make an effort to challenge your willpower on a smaller scale more frequently. Doing this actually builds up your ability for having greater willpower at the times you really need it.
These are a few tips that can help you develop stronger willpower. But it's important to know that we will all have times we falter, there is no such thing as having complete self-control, and that is perfectly okay.
What are your willpower issues? Do you have any tips you can share about ways to maintain willpower for healthy living and healthy eating?
Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com