Let’s talk willpower. It is something that is learned over time and unfortunately does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of practice and of course the true desire to develop it. People who say they don’t have any willpower probably simultaneously have never tried to develop it or have no true intentions to start. You can complain about it all you want but it is not a force from your inner being that will magically appear, you have to work at it.
Will power is a lot like delaying gratification. Rather than giving yourself a short term reward you delay for a greater long term goal or feeling. Sometimes we often get mixed signals from our body. We start to feel hungry even though we just ate or see something delicious and immediately decide, I need this… like right now! Sometimes our mind takes over complete control rather than receiving and listening to signals from our body.
More and more I’ve come to understand that the majority of the time this is caused by some kind of psychological issue. How many people do you know who stress eat? You probably know a good handful of people if not more and I know personally I used to as well. Because food can be so comforting sometimes and it seems like such a quick fix to make yourself feel better instantly.
How many people eat out of boredom? This used to be me to a T. And I’ll admit I still do sometimes. Eating is so social and can be an activity at times that fills your day. Sometimes when you just don’t know what to do next, we make a snack.
So what happens when you get offered something and you feel that the other person may get offended if you don’t eat it? Or may judge you because they have insecurities themselves?
Believe me this situation has occurred in my life SO many times. Because I used to be a people pleaser I would eat it to make THEM feel better… Can anyone else relate?
The key here is to be selfish in this situation. Think about you and nobody else. They will forgive you if you don’t eat the cake they made just for you and life will move on. Quit trying to please other people in ways that don’t serve your own soul.
There are polite ways to refuse. I use my peanut allergy a lot, stating “sorry I have a severe allergy to peanuts and just don’t want to take any risks”. You can state you have any allergy out there or even an intolerance and people won’t push you to eat anything. Another excuse I use is “I just ate and I am really full but thanks for the offer”. If they give you a piece for later take it and give it to someone who would enjoy it.
So the key to developing will power is taking back the control. Control of your body and control of your mind. It all starts with becoming self and body aware. If your someone who wished they had more willpower this is exactly where you start.
Our bodies can also be little tricksters as well with these mixed signals. Sometimes we cannot decipher hunger from thirst. So we think we’re hungry when really were actually a little dehydrated.
So where do we start?
There are three things I want you to do next time you’re faced with an unplanned food decision (food or snacks besides your regular meals for the day).
Number one is drinking a glass of water. Easy and simple as that. If you feel yourself getting hungry drink one nice big cup of water first then wait a few minutes to see how you feel. If someone offers you a sweet treat and you are torn with the decision to eat it or not, drink a nice big glass of water first.
Next, there are two questions I want you to ask yourself before you eat something. A great question I have used over the years to develop more willpower is “How is this going to make me feel?” Think of the short term feeling then think of the long. If you can think of a longer term better outcome from not having this item right away, it will help create just a little more awareness to guide your decision.
The last question is, “Is this food item going to benefit my performance today?” Good quality nutrition is important to stay productive, active, and mentally sharp. Overeating can cause you to feel sluggish, guilty, and sometimes shame. Especially if you are trying to reach a fitness goal.
If you have already got some proper nutrition in today and know you’re going to hit your protein intake goals for the day then you might be in a better position to have the treat. But if all you’ve eaten is junkie foods and not had any vegetables or protein rich foods, it might be a better decision to hold off and get more quality food in that day.
So whether you gave in and ate the snack or not after asking these questions, it is important to create awareness after the fact as well to assess your feelings on your decision. “How does my energy feel?” “How does my body feel?” and “How do I feel about myself now?”
It is important not to self shame at the same time. Doing these sorts of practices it’s easy to start thinking self deprecating thoughts. These thoughts are going to get you nowhere and may even cause a reverse willpower effect to get back at yourself. So be kind to yourself in the process. Remind yourself it’s not easy to say no or not now, especially when you’ve been accustomed to giving yourself whatever you desire in the moment for so long.
Remember it’s progress over perfection. You are NOT going to be able to just start saying no thanks and delaying gratification right away so get that idea out of your head. It’s all in the little baby steps. Be patient with yourself and give yourself some recognition when you do make a small step towards your goals.