Admit it: Your life sucks without willpower and MOST people have little of it.
But today I am going to show you SIMPLE & EFFECTIVE ways to boost your willpower (Immediately!)
And separate yourself from the crowd!
Before you read any further please read part 1 of this article here as you say goodbye to having no willpower to diet (or workout!)
What you’ll learn:
- 7 Strategies you can use RIGHT AWAY to generate immense willpower
- 6 ‘not so exciting’ (BUT EFFECTIVE) things that would blow your willpower out of the waters (trust me…your friends would think you have taken a willpower steroid!)
- Why you DON’T want to end up in front a judge close to 12 noon (Parole denied son!)
- The Secret Fruit that makes you say goodbye to cake and pizza
Let’s jump right in!
How to Have Strong Willpower (The 6 ‘not so exciting’ stuff)
1) Sleep (Get lots of it!)
Proper sleep optimizes the function of the pre-frontal cortex giving rise to better willpower.
See this article for a more detailed explanation of the link between sleep and willpower as well on practical tips on how to sleep better.
You don’t have to be Buddha or Lord Shaolin to meditate.
But this simple practice for 5 minutes a day is like steroids for your willpower!
See this article for a more detailed explanation on how to meditate. (HINT: it takes only 5 minutes a day!)
Pay attention to your nutrition. Your brain needs a constant supply of energy throughout the day.
So stick to a diet that keeps your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.
Your diet should consist of fruits, veggies, nuts, meats and complex carbs such as brown rice and sweet potatoes.
Poor nutrition starves the brain of energy.
The brain rewards you by cutting back on your willpower! Punish your body and your brain would punish you!
4) Manage your stress levels
This is not an article on stress but stress impacts willpower negatively.
Stress prompts a fight-or-flight response and the brain responds by making you seek out something that it think would make you happy : such as over-eating, skipping workouts or overspending.
The American Psychological Association recommends that you can either play a sport, exercise, read, listen to music, attend a religious service, spend time with family and friends, meditate or do a creative hobby when stressed.
These all release feel good hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin which balances of the stress hormones.
5) Exercise to increase willpower
If it’s even 15 minutes in a treadmill. Or find ways to incorporate it into your daily routine.
Some suggestions are: gardening, parking at a further distance at the mall, standing-up meetings, using the stairs instead of an elevator, walking while talking on your cell phone. Get creative with it. Doesn’t have to be a gym!
6) Set willpower challenges
You can maybe put a piece of cake in plain sight and try to resist it!
If you succeed then over time willpower would start becoming stronger.
Or do something that tempts you in areas totally unrelated to eating and dieting such as walking through your favorite clothes store and not spending a dime.
Remember if willpower strengthens in one area it affects other unrelated areas as well.
But I want willpower now! (Use these 7)
What about right after you have finished reading this article that you went to the mall and a big piece of cheese cake is tempting you?
Like right now….staring you in the face!
I don’t think you would drop down on the floor and sleep or assume lotus position and meditate.
Not unless you want the mall cops escort you out!
So here are some tips that you can use NOW if you find temptation staring right in the face.
1) Wait ten minutes
Set a rule like this:
I see cheesecake, I wait ten minutes and then I’ll eat it!
After 10 minutes you can eat it if you wish, but more than likely you would not want to as the initial excitement for it would most likely wear of.
2) Pause and breathe
You see cheesecake then you pause and you breathe slowly to 6 breaths per minute.
Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for one second and then breathe out for 5 seconds.
This helps shift you into a physiological state of self-control helping you to resist that huge delicious piece of cake.
3) Have an apple before you have a bad meal
Set this rule: it’s ok to have the cheesecake but only if I have an apple first.
Most likely the apple would show you that wanting the cake was a decision made on impulse and you would not want to have it anymore.
4) Make use of the Zeigarnik Effect
The Zeigarnik Effect is a psychological phenomenon where we tend to remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed ones.
So if we haven’t finished a work project then it’s on our minds all night.
But once we are finished with it then our brains closes the loop and releases it.
Lots of incomplete projects even if it’s a sink full of dishes can tire our pre-frontal cortex…the seat of our willpower.
So close off as much incomplete stuff that you can so that you have more pre-frontal cortex space freed up.
For bigger tasks break these into smaller ones and focus on closing each one.
I find this trick to be effective when working on something spanning days and weeks.
5) Clean your desk and bedroom
Messy desks and bed rooms or beds that are not made up can erode your willpower whereas clean ones have the opposite effect.
Here is a great article on how clutter can be making you FAT!
6) Take frequent breaks throughout the day
You should recharge your willpower by taking frequent breaks.
A study found that judges were more compassionate to prisoners applying for parole if their case was heard earlier in the day.
As the day wore on and decision fatigue set in the number of prisoners being granted parole went down!
The number went up again after lunch…because the judges had a break and were refreshed!
7) Beware of white bears
If I was to tell you to think of anything you want….
But NOT of a white bear….then you WOULD think of a white bear!
The more you try to push away a thought, the more that thought would come back in your brain….but with a vengeance.
What does this has to do with dieting?
Well the more you try not to think of that huge dripping caramel fudge brown chocolate cake (topped with strawberries for good measure) then the more likely you would give in at some point and eat everything in sight!
Instead of not thinking of the chocolate cake; accept that it is tempting you BUT also realize that you don’t have to give in.
Remember don’t fight the thoughts but accept it and realize that you DON’T have to act on them.
Not because you ‘feel’ a thought means that you have to act on it. The world would be chaos if this was so!
Imagine seeing hot chicks or hot guys (depending on if you are male of female) and just grabbing them and running off with them…I am sure you don’t do that.
You feel something (and think ‘private’ thoughts I am sure) when you see them but you don’t act like caveman or cave-woman and grab someone and start making out.
Where do we go from here?
While it is nice to develop our willpower, relying on it solely and wholly to stick to our diets is not always the best strategy.
As we would have seen from the first article, willpower is like a muscle and can run out.
We want to rely on willpower less.
The strategies outlined is a good start but I am sure you know someone who doesn’t sleep well or who stresses a lot but still get his workouts in and eat clean.
That person have his habits of working out and eating clean ingrained so deeply that he doesn’t even need to rely on any willpower or even motivation to get stuff done.
In future articles I would write more on habits and how they form and how we can change them.
If you look at the portion of the brain allocated to willpower it is small when compared to the other areas such as the limbic system.
But in our quest to getting healthier and fitter we want to stack all odds in our favor.
And willpower is a good place to start.
If you want to learn more about willpower and how you can develop more of it then pick up a copy of The Will Power Instinct by Kelly McCoginal.
This is hands down the best book on willpower.
She goes into much more detail into how to develop your willpower and it’s a fascinating and interesting read to say the least.
So with apple in hand remember to eat that apple first before your pizza! Wishing you a day filled with great willpower