Why hello December! November certainly was a whirlwind, wasn’t it ? Here in the States we just wrapped up Thanksgiving last week… which is always an amazing overload to the senses.
A day full of delicious food and tasty treats… how can you go wrong with that ??
Thanksgiving is like this seque into Christmas with it’s plethora of delights.
Candy. Cookies. Rich meals. Cakes and treats.
I grew up with a grandmother and mom who were baking queens during the Christmas season. I will share more on that in another post, but it’s safe to say, I learned all my tricks from them. What a wonderful heritage to be given.
I love baking and I love giving it away. The week of Thanksgiving I took a variety of treats to my local Starbucks ( ’cause I love all my little baristas there 😉 and I want them to know I appreciate them. One of the comments I got was…
“How do you stay in the shape you’re in, and bake like that??”
My response, ” I bake, but I don’t eat much of it” 😉
Then comes something I’ve gotten used to hearing from people.
” I just don’t have that kind of will power”
Ah yes, the illusive “will power”. It’s defined as control of ones impulses and actions, self-control.
Often when I’m talking with people that subject comes up. They are struggling, wanting to lose weight and move into a positive lifestyle change yet feel their willpower is lacking.
Can I say at best, it can fail us ? Oh we will be “good”. We will decline treats and special foods and maybe for awhile feel successful. We will drastically alter all of our eating and feel like we are finally getting somewhere. After attempting to keep rein on our willpower we can even begin to feel angry with it.
“Why can’t we have that treat?”
“Why can’t we enjoy the things we really love?”
And then… one day.. we snap.
Everything that’s been off limits, is now far game. If it can run, it better get outta the way. You’ve held on to your willpower for as long as you can and now it’s anything goes. You deserve to enjoy things too, right ?
And then… you’re back at square one. You might have feelings of failure, discouragement and frustration that once again, you just don’t have the willpower to control things and you’ll never get your goals.
May I offer an alternate suggestion ? One that you slowly, simply, build into your life?
Habits. You begin to build new habits, day in and day out until it’s seamlessly a part of your life and willpower doesn’t really have to do with what you eat. You begin to develop comfortable boundaries with what you eat and when.
I shared on my Facebook page this past Monday that I was ready to get back to “normal” and by that I meant I was ready for some serious exercise and lighter eating. You see, I was able to enjoy my Thanksgiving celebrations, but I’ve built habits into my life that I naturally want to return to.
For me, getting back on the road for a run and having a big colorful salad for lunch was normal for me. Over the past few years I’ve made exercise and eating well, in moderation, habits for myself. Once these things are ingrained in you, it’s not hard to return to them.
When I talk with people I try and stress the importance of building new habits to make the journey to a lifestyle change. I believe it’s ultimately, the only thing that will stick.
Understand this: habits aren’t built over night. They are built from a purposeful and intentional desire to do things differently. So many things we do in our lives are habit, good and bad.
Know you will bomb some days. You’ll feel frustrated and wonder if it will ever stick. It will. Get up and start at it again.
When I first started out walking I was so worried if I missed a single day I’d fall off the proverbial wagon. If I didn’t get my walk in the morning due to scheduling, when I got home, the first thing I did was grab my shoes and hit the road. ( this was before days where I was all super athletically haha) I wore what I had on, changed my shoes, and got it done.
You know what that was doing ? Building a habit in me that said “purposeful, daily exercise is important and necessary. You make time for it. ”
Food. In slow, daily, and steady changes I taught my body to appreciate eating healthy food. I also allowed it Peanut M&M’s if it wanted a few. When you KNOW you can have something, it really removes the power from it, because you know it’s there… if you really need it. In time, certain foods and treats honestly began to have less of a draw. I recognized how good I felt eating well, eating appropriate amounts and feeding my body in a healthy way.
Again, I had days I bombed, and days I felt like super woman. No matter what, I kept a forward moving mentality. Each day gained, got me that much closer to making those things permanent habits for me.
Not my amazing willpower. Not my superior strength of being able to say “no”.
New habits that were leading to a lifestyle change.
I’ve heard it can take 21 days for a new habit to be set in place. Depending on what it is, some things might take more or less time based on our personalities.
My suggestions if you want to build new positive, life changing habits?
Don’t try and change everything all at once. Pick one or maybe two things.
Slow and steady is best.
Do have a journal to write down your progress in the beginning to hold yourself accountable. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to ask you how you’re doing.
Focus on the day your in. Move through it making good choices. Allow yourself a measure of grace if you fall, but get up and get back at it.
No throwing in the towel!
Do not allow yourself to make excuses to not do what you’ve set out to do. You are more than capable of success.
Make a realistic goal sheet of habits you want to form.
Understand you have to practice your new habit daily to make it a um…. habit 😉
Seeking to build habits instead of having “willpower” will lead you to a new freedom and your healthier lifestyle.
What good habits do you have in place already? What habits do you need to work on and build to live a healthier lifestyle ?
2 thoughts on “Will Power Or Habit ?”
Great advice. I tell my clients that they need a combination of motivation, determination and positive habits. When one doesn’t work for you, you have the other two of fall back on. BJ Fogg from Stanford has focused his career around building positive habits. Seems like you have hit on many of his advice but you may still want to check him out: google Tiny Habits.
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Hey I sure will! Thanks for the feedback =)