Willpower. Won’t-power is more like it. That’s because it usually comes into play when we’re trying to avoid something that we know isn’t good for us. A second (or third) helping. Dessert. Skipping the gym. Check, check and check, right?
Willpower may be the biggest impediment to living healthier. Most of us know how to eat better. We know we should be exercising. And we know we should not be eating that dessert, those salty fat-filled snacks or drinking that soda.
But we can’t help ourselves. And we just do it, even if it makes us hate ourselves after.
Well, there’s hope. Just as you can train your body to be stronger, more flexible or just generally healthier, you may be able to “train” your willpower and thus give yourself a better chance of achieving your goals. Be they losing weight, or running a marathon.
That was the conclusion drawn by researchers at The Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center in Providence, RI, after participants in a study showed that those who experienced an increase in self-control during the five-month study experienced weight loss similar to participants who began the study with higher levels of willpower.
Says lead author Tricia M. Leahey, Ph.D.: “Our study is the first to examine whether practicing acts of self-control during weight loss is linked to an increase in self-control and better weight loss outcomes, although other research has demonstrated this effect in the area of smoking cessation.”
The trick is what are those “acts of self control’?
Among these 10 easy ways to build stronger willpower: my favorites are:
* Make a list and read it every morning. Writing your goals down makes them real, and reading them every morning is a reminder not to slip them into a drawer and forget them.
*Solve problems that may interfere with reaching your goals. For instance, if you always say you don’t “time” to workout, log everything you do for three days. I’ll bet you’ll see that by eliminating a few worthless, time-consuming activities in your day, you’ll have plenty of time to exercise.
* Pat yourself on the back. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a hug (or even one cookie!) when you’ve achieved a goal. Just don’t make the party last for a week.
Training your willpower may the first step in eliminating your primary excuse for not achieving your goals, so start “building” it now!