My brother is my number one motivator and supporter. He always listens to my ideas and provides me constant encouragement. He often takes time to remind me of my major accomplishments – my doctorate degree, the multiple endurance events I have completed, my book on heart disease that I have co-authored. He says “You have tremendous willpower and that is why you accomplish so many things!”
Whoa! I don’t see myself with any extraordinary amounts of will power – perseverance! Yes! Willpower! No! I succumb to the ice-cream and cookie jar like most other people! It is not enough to suppress those feelings or thoughts. You know they will bounce back and you will end up in eating that whole box of cookies or quart of ice-cream. If you want to make changes – small changes like going for a walk every day, finish some important paper work OR big changes like losing 20+ lbs of weight or quit smoking, you need more than just willpower!
Recent research shows that will power is a mind-body response, not a virtue. It is a biological function that can be improved through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep. Willpower is not an unlimited resource. Too much self-control can actually be bad for your health. Your environment and your stress levels can impact your self-control.
You can train yourself for greater will power! I believe the answer lies in the nature of our attention. Mindfulness! No surprise – What kind of answers did you expect in this blog anyway?
Step 1 – Focus on why you are making changes – especially your emotional reasonsIt is not enough to say you have rational reasons for making your changes. You have to back them with powerful emotional motivation. If you want to lose weight, don’t just focus on the health reasons for losing weight. Focus on the emotional aspects of being overweight. Come up with 10-20 reasons why you want to lose weight and pick the top three that mean a lot to you!
Step 2 – Create the Right Environment - If you want to lose weight and you have a group of friends who love to go to guzzle beer or eat often in buffets, you are going to give in to those temptations. When I trained for a marathon, I started hanging around a set of friends who run regularly. Every Wednesday, we met for a Water Melon run. We ran 4 miles and then shared a large water melon. In the weekends, we went for long runs. If you want to use your treadmill regularly, put it in front of the TV and use it when you watch your favorite TV program.
Step 3 – Aim for consistency NOT perfection - Too many people focus on perfection and beat themselves when they miss out a few parts of their program.. It is OK and completely natural to screw up your schedule or have unexpected changes. Take heart and move forward. If you are in that category, take your time to motivate yourself for a fresh start.
Yeah! Don’t forget your meditation and mindfulness practice! It is one of the best ways to train your mind to respond and NOT react!
How to Say No to Almost Anything!
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a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.