Something I have heard nearly all my life is that fat people don’t have the willpower to loose weight. Fat people would be skinny people if they exercised willpower. Well… you are are wrong. I have a great amount of willpower. I work hard. I will myself through days that most people couldn’t even begin to fathom. I have succeeded in avoiding sugar for over 490 days. Willpower. I have not had a Diet Pepsi in nearly 3 years. Willpower. I work 9-15 hour days, sometimes 6 days a week, and even when my lower back and feet hurt. Willpower.
You might think that my success in eating healthy, plant based foods and avoiding junk is due to my abilities to resist unhealthy impulse, the sheer power of my will. Likewise, when I am not dropping the pounds you may assume that I have been “cheating” and that I must be at a stand still due to a lack of willpower.
Nope. I have willpower.
Is there a way to strengthen your willpower?
I think willpower is like a muscle… it gets tired from overuse and requires energy to replenish drained energy. Willpower can be strengthened… with practice.
Sometimes the practice is challenging. Seriously. You need to exert your willpower in the same way that you would exert your legs on a run. So practice.
Here are a few things that have helped me to “practice” my willpower:
Meditation – Seriously. Meditation has helped me the most. With meditation I am training my brain to focus and and resist the urge to wander. I have heard that 2-3 days of practicing meditation for 10 minutes, your brain will be able to focus better, you will have more energy, and you will be less stressed out. I’ve tried it. It works!
Posture – I’ve been working very hard on changing my posture. I don’t know why it works, but it does. In as short as two weeks, I know you will feel a difference. Even today I have felt a major difference in my resolve after working on my posture at my chiropractor’s office. I even breathe better! So, at the very least, go see a chiropractor.
Keep a food diary – You all know that I keep a food diary, here, on line, on my blog. I have recently upped my efforts in reporting my foods. I now take a picture of ever food I eat. Let me tell you… when you know you will post all the food you eat at the end of the day on Instagram, you think twice and really decide if you want to take a picture of that cracker, or whatever it is, before you eat it. Most people do not log all the food they eat, so it take willpower to to keep track of it all. Trust me… it works wonders in increasing the strength of your willpower muscle.
Try using the opposite and once in a while – I know. Weird. Our brains are wired to use our dominate hand. Switching it up once in awhile helps the brain accept things outside the normal and increase will power. I am left handed, but every once in awhile I practice writing with my right hand, or eat with my right hand. Forcing myself to use the other hand exercise my will power and has given me a few cool skills. I can bat with either hand. I only catch and throw like a right handed person. I use scissors as a right handed person too. Try it. Pick a day to switch hands, even for an hour. You are going to see an increase of strength in your willpower muscle.
Create and meet self-imposed deadlines. I do this with my blog. It taxes my willpower as I try to stay focused and tune out all distraction. I find that it helps me by hyper-productive… like cramming for a test, oh so long ago. You could start simple with a to-do list. (although, be careful not to get down on yourself if life gets in the way and everything on the to-do list isn’t completed on time). Keep it small and simple. Meet the deadlines. As you get better at it, you will find your willpower muscle getting stronger.
Practice being mindful… even in simple, automatic decisions. We are often so lost in thought that our actions become an “auto-pilot” thing. Take time to think about why you are making your daily decisions and why that choice could help you increase your ability to focus and resist temptation (like me deciding if I want to eat something based on if I want to take a picture of it or not.
I have learned that self-control is a powerful human tool. I have learned that I can “put off the natural man” and that I can control my healthy habit. I have also learned that willpower really doesn’t have much to do with whether or not my body is ready to release the energy stored in my fat cells.
I am powerful!