With 2018 already 3 months in, for many, that means drawing in on the end of what was supposed to be their first few months of being healthy.
Or the first few months adopting diet changes, or starting with exercise, or giving up eating processed foods.
Whatever the case, this time, unfortunately, also becomes the time when we start to beat ourselves up.
When we feel like we haven’t made as much progress on our goals as we would like, and as a result, start to blame ourselves and that little voice in our head starts yelling.
It starts saying how we lack willpower, lack dedication, failed again, or saying, “why can’t you just stick to something for once?”
And as much as we may let that play out in our head, guess what? Willpower isn’t in endless supply just hanging around waiting for you to call on it when you need it.
We have been led to believe that willpower is this thing that is always there, waiting for us to use, and that if we fail or fall off track, it’s because we didn’t have enough willpower. But in fact, willpower isn’t actually typically there when you need it most.
Willpower functions optimally when we are well rested, alert, energized, well fed and not under stress.
In essence, the times when you need it most are the times when it is most likely to be depleted. For example, you need it when you get home from work and are tired, stressed out from the day, your brain is fried and that bag of chips is calling your name.
These are not exactly ideal willpower functioning situations. As a result, it makes sense that your willpower doesn’t really kick in.
Don’t ask it to work in times like that, and instead, try these solutions to help you keep on track.
- Don’t bring tempting food into the house – If you know your willpower won’t likely kick in and get to work, don’t give it a reason that it needs to. Don’t bring foods into the house that you know are hard to resist, or that you know you can’t eat in moderation.
- Become a mindful eater – Research has shown that the first few bites of a food that we desire are the most satisfying. But typically, when it is a food we think we shouldn’t eat, we just shovel it into our mouth and aren’t even aware of how much we are or aren’t enjoying it. Become mindful of the food you are eating and take the time to truly enjoy your first few bites: notice the flavor, how it feels in your mouth, the smell and the texture. And then notice how much of it you actually need or want . . .
- Find a healthy distractor – If you know every night when you get home from work that you are tempted to eat whatever is in sight, make that a healthy food that you see first to distract you from wanting to eat a less healthy option. Or plan a call with a friend, or to go for a walk with your partner. Getting over the initial period of craving will help get you on track so that you can make a better decision.
And most importantly, stop feeding yourself the negative self-talk and saying that you are a failure, or that you will never reach the success you are after. Instead, show a bit of compassion and practice self love!
By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH – Viand Nutrition