Willpower – Practice makes Discipline


Lori laid down the spatula and poured a glass of milk.  She told herself that one brownie wouldn't hurt.  Minutes later, an entire row of brownies had not-so-mysteriously vanished.  She hadn’t intended to eat any of them.  After all, how was she going to lose weight eating brownies?  But the sight and smell of them had led her to eat just one, then just a second, third, and fourth – until half of a pan of brownies was MIA.

I’ll be the first to admit, my willpower looks like the Fellowship of the Ring members against an army of Orcs when facing the temptation of chocolate.  But like the Fellowship, it can sometimes overcome.

You see, willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.  It’s not always easy, especially with a busy lifestyle.  We have to contend against coffee and dessert dates with friends, family dinner nights and Sunday lunch at Grandma’s house.  If you're like me and have an old-fashioned family that eats big, calorie-loaded meals together all the time, telling Mom or Grandma that you're trying to cut back practically assures that you'll get handed a second helping even bigger than the first!

There are ways to help you reinforce and sustain the willpower you so desperately want to say you have.  Try a few of them for yourself.

  1. If you must eat, drink and be merry - at least make it healthy! OK, so everyone's idea of merriment is not a demanding hike or an hour at the gym, and let's face it: big meals are always going to be a popular way for loved ones to gather together.  So try going to a restaurant that serves healthier choices, or offering to help with dinner so you can offer options that are both more nutritious and perfectly delicious to boot.  It's easier to have the willpower to stay focused when you make sure healthy choices are readily available.
  2. Don’t forget portion control. Even after making the switch to healthier foods, eating colossal amounts of them won't help trim down your waistline.  Be aware of your portions.  Leave the last bite or two unfinished. Never go back for seconds. And if you have an adult beverage, sip it slowly, and limit yourself to one. Believe it or not, you'll still feel full and satisfied without busting the button off your favorite jeans.
  3. Allow yourself a day off and a well-deserved reward!  You somehow managed to make it through the day (or week) defying the forces of darkness.  You've stuck to your guns.  Go you! Now, treat yourself to a relaxing massage or a day out with friends. Do something that will encourage you to face the constant pitfalls again next week without caving.

If you slip now and then, don’t beat yourself up.  We all do.  Just get back at it.  It’s about staying the course and controlling all the typical ways your determination can be worn down, and doing so more often than not.  When you can keep getting back up, keep practicing your resolve, it only makes your discipline, your willpower—and you—stronger.


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