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Willpower. It may not be your fault.

Does this sound familiar?

You were “PERFECT” all day. You had your green smoothie for breakfast, packed your healthy lunch, sat happily and ate it outside—not even at your desk!—enjoyed a healthy snack that you bought at the market on the weekend, AND you even got up a bit early and got in a yoga class before work. Then BAM! You walk in the house from your day SO tired and hungry that you head straight to the fridge and it’s all over. Whatever is in front of your face or in the fridge, you are eating it. Your entire “good healthy day” is over.

 

willpower and temptation

willpower and temptation

Sigh.

You ask yourself, “how could I have ruined a perfectly perfect day?” Now you are completely deflated.

But it’s not your fault. Truly.

We only have a short supply of willpower. It’s like a gas tank. When it’s gone, it’s gone. This is not an excuse to say, “I am out of will power, so I’m going to go on a cookie binge.” But it is  a relief to know that we don’t have to rely on super human powers to get us through a day and then feel horrible when we make a mistake.

We exert willpower ALL day long in forms like not playing on Facebook, not calling friends during work hours, getting up to go to yoga or the gym, focusing on meetings—so your restraint from extra vanilla lattes and chocolate cake is just ONE MORE THING you are capable of adding to your repertoire of self-discipline.

 

So what does this all mean— will I ever reach my health and wellness goals? 

Will I go through life always feeling deprived?

 

you CAN just have one!

you CAN just have one!

 

YES to the first question and NO to the second one. We just need to rethink HOW we eat and set our intentions.

 

1) Set smaller steps – If you say to yourself “I am going to lose weight” or “I am going to eat healthy,” the only thing you are going to lose is self-respect. If you break that down to, “I am going to eat real, unprocessed food for two weeks.” Chances are you will stick to that, have fun with it and the by-product will be that you actually lose weight. Get specific. Your mind can wrap itself around small, specific, FUN things and stick to them.

The mind, like a little kid, doesn’t want to be punished.

 

2) Get the crack out – If I have bars of chocolate laying around my house, chances are I am going to eat them. I am a self-confessed chocoholic and I know my weakness. Get the crack out.

 

3) See your destination – I LOVE doing this: make a collage or cut out photos of what it is you are aiming toward. If you can SEE it, you can feel it and you can do it. I have photos all over my house and even on my iPhone. I designed a book cover for Veggies for Carnivores two years before it was published.

 

4) Laugh at yourself, A LOT – The words “bad” and “wrong” DO NOT belong in your vocabulary, especially when it comes to addressing yourself.  You are not bad or wrong because you ate more than you intended to. So you stumbled—brush yourself off, get up and move on but you did NOT ruin your whole day. That type of thinking feeds into, “WTH, I already screwed up,” I’ll just go hog wild.” That’s a vicious diet cycle! Just pause for a moment, see the humor in your thinking and move on. Again, the mind is like a child. It does not respond well to being scolded.

 

5) Be prepared – If your fridge and kitchen is filled with real food, ready to eat and prepared for the week, chances are you are going to eat it. Pick a day or two during the week and get ready. My pantry guide makes this super easy. Print it out and go shopping. If I can help with any tips, please let me know!

 

6) Build new habits – I got this fabulous tip from The Handel Group. They track EVERYTHING! If I track what it is that I’m doing—where I stumble and where I win, I get to see my habits under a microscope. So, if every day at 6 p.m. I walk in the door starving and that’s where I lose it, it’s time to build a new habit! This is when being prepared is even more important – I need to have crudité waiting for me when I get home OR I should have my lunch later. Voila! A new habit! 🙂

See? Willpower isn’t such a dirty word after all.

Do you have a clever way of bypassing willpower? I would love to hear how in the comments below!

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