Note: This is an article I submitted to NY Spirit.
Finding and Embracing Your Willpower
Throughout my weight loss journey, I learned that willpower is one of the most important attributes to achieve success. It’s not always the easiest skill to maintain, but it is entirely possible to be strong-minded when it comes to making healthy choices. Having a firm understanding of your long-term and short-term goals will help to guide your decisions, whether it be choosing a healthier option at a restaurant, deciding to go to the gym when you feel like skipping a workout, or whatever challenge may arise. When you’re completely aware of your ultimate goals, making better choices becomes much easier. Keep these tips in mind to help you find and embrace your willpower.
- Keep your goals in mind. The most important part of a healthy lifestyle is knowing your ultimate goals. They may range from losing weight to gaining weight, and even from improving strength to increasing running distance. Whatever your goals may be, keep them in your mind to keep you motivated along your journey. I recall a time in college, a few months into my weight loss journey when my friends were eating chocolate cake and they offered me a piece. I did something previously unimaginable: I declined the offer. I was so focused on achieving my weight loss goals that saying no to a piece of cake was, well, a piece of cake! When your goals are lingering on your mind, you’re much more likely to stay strong and make better choices toward achieving them. I suggest writing down your goals and keeping the list close by for whenever you need a reminder of your true motivation.
- Pay attention to your body’s signals. Our bodies send us messages all the time and it’s up to us to listen to them. If your willpower seems to be your weakest when a tempting food is present, try to decipher your body’s messages before acting. It’s often difficult to determine whether you are truly hungry or if you simply desire to eat. Learn to recognize the difference between these two. If you’re feeling sluggish and haven’t eaten in a while, and especially if your stomach is growling, you’re hungry. If you recently ate and you’re thinking about a delicious snack, but your stomach feels content, make sure you’re not just experiencing a craving. If you are, think about your goals, and wait until you feel truly hungry to eat. After making a habit of being mindful, it will feel more natural to stay strong-minded and embrace your willpower.
- Understand when to stop. This is a very challenging part, and it’s one that I still battle with on occasion. When you’re eating a food that you love, even if you feel full, it’s not the easiest thing to put it down and throw in the towel (or napkin, in this case). However, there are ways to recognize your satiety. Drinking lots of water throughout a meal will help you to feel fuller faster. Eating more slowly and taking smaller bites is also a mindful habit to help your brain to signal satiety quicker. Most importantly, stop eating when you’re full. By doing this, you may end up with enough leftovers for a second meal, and there is certainly no issue with that! Always be mindful of your eating habits and learn when’s a good time to put the fork down and save the rest. If continually practiced, this will become a habit that will help you stay on track to achieving your goals.
- Plan more. Willpower will come much more easily when you have a plan in mind. If you plan out your healthy meals, and even prepare them in advance, it’ll be much easier to just choose a healthy option instead of pondering all of the possible meals available. Planning an exercise schedule is also very beneficial to ensuring that you get to the gym when you want to. Instead of letting gym time be whenever you have free time, prioritize it in your daily schedule. Just like you would for an appointment, try to attend your gym sessions promptly. By making these choices, you will feel much more compelled to do these tasks; therefore, your willpower for these activities will skyrocket.
- Stay strong. There might be times where you don’t want to be so mindful. Remember, it’s okay to treat yourself on occasion, as long as your willpower is strong enough to get you right back on track after. Always remember your goals when you’re experiencing a lack of motivation. When you know exactly what you want and where you want to be in the long run, making strong choices will become second nature. The more you practice these tips, the more natural they will feel. You are entirely capable of finding and embracing your willpower. You can do anything you put your mind to!