WHY WILLPOWER IS SO IMPORTANT AND HOW TO INCREASE IT
Kathleen Totter is a fitness expert, media personality, personal trainer, writer, life coach, and overall health enthusiast.
I actually don’t believe that willpower is the key to adopting a healthier lifestyle. Think of willpower as akin to a “self-surveillance muscle.” Like any muscle it gets exhausted. Exerting willpower requires conscious thought. You have to stop and think, “should I have the cookie or the apple?” Sure, you might make the healthier choice when you are newly motivated (say, New Year’s or Monday), or in the morning before life gets crazy, but as you get tired, angry, overwhelmed, depressed, etc., you are more likely to make less-than-ideal choices.
Willpower requires your brain to decide to be healthy, but the brain has limited capacity. The solution? Establish healthier habits (habits require less conscious awareness) and set up systems when you do have discipline — when you are motivated — so that your future less-disciplined self has no choice but to follow through.
Examples of systems include not having food in the house that you don’t want your future self to eat; piggybacking a workout onto something you already do (turn your dog walk into an intense cardio workout or take conference calls as you walk); eating from smaller plates and drinking from smaller glasses (we eat and drink less from smaller dishes), and portioning out your snacks — especially when watching TV (we’ll eat until the dish, package, or container is empty). I sleep in my exercise clothes to ensure my morning workout is as easy/convenient as possible. I have a client who connects his exercise bike to his TV so the TV only works if he is cycling.
Create systems based on you – your unique triggers and situations that typically derail you. For example, if you know you always skip your stretch post outdoor run because once in the house life and kids take over, decide you have to stretch on your porch before you go inside. One of my clients uses this system. It has moved her from stretching once a week (at best) to stretching after every workout.
The net is, sure, use willpower when you have it and act in ways that ensure your willpower muscle is strong (sleep, eat nutritionally dense meals to ensure your blood sugar stays stable, meditate, etc.) but know that willpower is not enough. At some point your future self will be tired, hangry, etc., and in those moments you need established systems that will keep you on course. Set up systems that will save you from your future less motivated, exhausted, sad, or overwhelmed self.
Deborah Capaccio – Creator and CEO of The Grit Girl Club.
When I was asked to speak about the importance of willpower and how to create it, I was super excited to share my thoughts! However, I prefer to use a different word to describe willpower, as I think this world has a bad rap and negative connotation. Instead, swap it out with an empowering word that is tied to success, victory, and inner fortitude. That word is GRIT.
I have built my company, my brand, and my personal wellness success around this word. That is how impactful I believe it is!
Grit is what separates the good from the excellent and the average from the elite. I truly believe that it isn’t our talents that get us to rise to the top 5 per cent, to earn the seven figures, or to hit that massive goal that seemed so out of reach. Instead, it’s our fierce determination, our tenacious attitude, our belief that we are capable of doing hard things and our willingness to do that thing, even when we don’t feel like it.
Sadly, I believe our culture has succumbed to a microwave-way of existing. A “get rich-quick”, a “lose 5lbs in three days” way of living and we have lost the ability to work hard, suffer for our goals, and win the long game.
If we can somehow get comfortable with being uncomfortable, stay laser-focused on our goals, realize that great accomplishments are supposed to be hard, take time and massive action, we will find our grit muscle. If we flex it every single day, it will grow and it will become easier to do what you need to do to move forward.
Success will naturally follow.
Willpower, grit, call it what you may – but use it! Find it! In the process you will reveal your unique gifts and talents that have always been there, but you never knew existed because you stopped just at the point you were about to summit the mountain.
I believe in you!
Professional athlete at IFBB Professional League and coach at Pro Gym
Willpower is staying focused on a particular goal and not letting outside forces disrupt your path, wanting something that you have the discipline and the self-control to see it through, and resisting instant self-gratification.
You keep willpower by taking care of yourself first; move, eat right, sleep well, and have good relationships. You increase it by setting smaller goals and achieving them, aka the Kaizen principle. The sense of accomplishment creates motivation, and motivation is a key element in willpower. It comes down to what you love the most, as love is the greatest force and can give anybody the will to accomplish anything, and the power stay on the right path and exercise self-control.
Originally published at FITAFTER45