Will Power Or Habit ?

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 canΒ 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.Β  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 πŸ˜‰ 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” πŸ˜‰

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”.Β  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. Β 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..Β  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 wantedΒ  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 πŸ˜‰

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 ?

 

 

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Published by

Sassyfitnesschick

8 years ago I began what I now refer to as my "journey into lifestyle fitness". After a yearly check in with my Dr he said I looked "really good on paper, but I might consider losing a few pounds" I wasn't offended... I knew I needed to but it seemed like to much work at the time. In that year we had adopted 2 girls out of foster care, plus caring for my 3 sons & husband sort of left me on the back burner taking care of "me". I told him I "used to" walk & he encouraged me to at least get back to that. I left his office that day, started, & never quit. As time moved on my walks increased in length & speed. I started mingling some jogging into it...then after more time some short sprints. One day I realized I was doing more running than anything else. I learned to run longer and farther. I constantly challenged myself to do more. I realized I had turned into a runner & was loving it. I have since run 6 half marathons, 2 full marathons, and my first 50K scheduled for March 1,2015. Not bad for a girl who just started off walking not quite 2 miles! My body was now beginning to show the results of my work as weight & inches dropped off. I began to add in boxing & weights on days I wasn't running. Over time as the fat left, my new muscles were waiting underneath =) Obviously, I also made some food changes. Nothing drastic..just started eating less and trying to eat better.. I hated diets and how they made me feel....deprived & left out of all the fun...so adjusting & eating less of what I liked and moving more.. I found myself getting in decent physical shape. It began my thinking of lifestyle and not "dieting". As I got stronger,healthier & more fit it was an easier process to "let go" of some of the foods I had enjoyed. I had more energy, strength and confidence in what I could do. It was empowering. It made me realize that I probably wasn't the only one who wanted to lose weight, be healthy & strong but not always be on some sort of "diet". Maybe my journey & what I had learned & been doing might possibly help others to success in their lives... I consider myself to be rather normal and ordinary ( meaning I haven't always been into fitness and healthy eating) it has been a steady, daily, learned process with good days and bad days and my hope is that you too, will see the greatness in you, and that you have the ability and power to change and do anything you put your mind to. If you want change, you can make it happen. It's just one day at a time, making smart moves and better choices, and before you know it, things are happening. Get started on your journey, really, what do you have to lose ? And yet, so much to gain =)

2 thoughts on “Will Power Or Habit ?”

  1. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

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