If you’ve ever eaten ice cream while standing at the freezer—or hit the snooze alarm instead of getting up to work out—you might have thought, I have no willpower!
You have it—we all do. But, sometimes it can seem difficult to find, or it appears to have abandoned us completely.
There’s hope, though. You can learn how to boost—and better tap into—this inner strength to help you meet your weight-control goals
Like a car, willpower hums along best with good fuel, smooth roads and proper maintenance. Keep yours tuned up with these five tips:
1. Don’t run on empty.
Willpower uses mental and physical energy. Research shows that exerting it actually causes drops in blood glucose. And, being hungry andtired can be a worst-case scenario when it comes to our ability to use willpower. That’s why you’ll have an easier time making good choices if you eat healthfully, don’t skip meals, and stay rested.
2. Pave the way for a smooth ride.
By planning ahead, you can reduce the number of decisions you face each day. That way you’ll have willpower when you really need it. For example, it might help to:
- Make sure you have good choices available. Plan a week’s worth of nutritious meals, and buy all the ingredients in advance. And, keep healthful snacks and treats on hand.
- Plot out your workout sessions for the week at the times you’ll be most likely to follow through.*
- Find a workout buddy, someone who will be counting on you to show up.
3. Keep your eyes on the road.
Staying focused and calm can be a boon to willpower. One way to do this: Practice mindful eating. That means slowing down, savoring every bite—and hitting the brakes before you feel full.
4. Brace yourself for rough patches.
Of course, stress can bump self-control right into the ditch. If you’re struggling, try to focus on what you can do. And, tell yourself not to worry about things you can’t control.
And, don’t go it alone. Ask for support from others. When we feel disconnected or lonely, it can be difficult to stay strong and motivated. Share your goals with friends and family. And, celebrate your successes with them, too!
5. Shift into park.
Here’s one final tip for the road: When faced with an unhealthy temptation, stop for a minute. Ask yourself: Does this choice support my health goals?
A little time may be all you need to ride out an impulse. When you do, give yourself credit. When you don’t, give yourself a break. Don’t worry about perfection — be happy with continuing to make progress.
*Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.
By Arleen Fitzgerald, L.I.C.S.W., and Melanie Polk, M.M.Sc., R.D., F.A.D.A.
Content courtesy of UnitedHealthcare