The Art of Willpower

The Art of Willpower

with No Comments

Phrases that I hear all the time. ‘I always eat healthy but I can’t lose weight?’ ‘F**k it, I’m going to the gym later’ (refering to that chocolate bar).‘I feel so sick I shouldn’t of eaten too much’ I’m sure everyone can relate to them whether at home, the office or in the coffee shop. Your brother or sister is probably moaning about eating too much right now saying they don’t want dinner!

 

Firstly, I am not a dietitian, I am not a personal trainer and I am not a psychologist, I just take a keen interest in all three things. In addition, I like to feel healthy and know when I eat unhealthy and don’t exercise it has a detrimental effect on my mind and I turn into a person I don’t want to be: moody, moany, snappy and generally unhappy. I am also the biggest hypocrite known to mankind too, as if I have a cup of tea, and biscuits are sitting there the whole packet is normally gone in 1 minute flat and then I spend my whole evening with a feeling of regret. Not good for me and others around me. It all comes down to willpower.

 

Willpower is one of the main reasons people are unhealthy or just give up. In a competition what will win, the early morning workout or the extra hour in bed? The apple or the cake made by your Nan? The battle you are having internally is not made up and you are not alone, don’t worry. A study by the California Institute of Technology have identified the neural process that relates to self-regulation which determines whether you want to eat that chocolate bar. “We seem to have independent systems capable of guiding our decision, and in situations like this one, these systems may compete for control of what we do” says Cendri Hutcherson, a Caltech postdoctoral scholar”. In a nutshell, there is fight going on in your brain, it is perfectly natural but it is ultimately you, who decides who will win.

 

Sharing my friend's mamones in El Salvador as I had eaten all mine
Sharing my friend’s mamones in El Salvador as I had eaten all mine

It took me a long time to address that my will-power needed to change, it became very apparent when I was out riding in the Americas and if I stocked up on food or water for the next few days knowing that there wouldn’t be a food or water source available for a while, even if I set myself a structure of eating at certain times I would still end up eating it all before I should. It turned out to be dangerous as riding in the heat in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where your next food or water source is coming from is not good, especially as it stemmed from my own greed. Something back home needed to change. It made sound stupid as I have never been classed as unhealthy but changes had to be made, here are a few:

 

  • Herbal teas as dipping a custard cream into a green tea is not the same. No debate!
  • Physically not buying healthy snacks to making your own e.g chia oat balls.
  • Ordering a caramel macchiato from Starbucks to ordering an espresso.
  • Sugar in hot drinks to no sugar (thanks Isabella)
  • Making a lunch the night before then eating it at 11am and then buying a lunch as the stomach is rumbling to just holding on until later.
  • Having seconds at meal times as the food is just too good and it would be rude not to eat it too just saying no to myself.
  • Telling myself I went to the gym yesterday it’s fine I need my muscles to recover to just going even if it’s some yoga stretches or swimming.
  • Having a cheat day (over eat day) to just moderately watching what I eat (I’m not 5 I don’t need a treat).
  • Being a yes man to just saying no.

In all, you are not alone and there is a science behind it. Once you conquer and address the issue of willpower in weight loss and working out you can relate it to all walks of life e.g managing stress. It is just basic psychology, but it is your brain and your choices, no one elses. It took me ages and is still ongoing…

Leave a Reply