We all have a superpower if we choose to use it. Willpower is our self-control that keeps us on track to meet our long term goals. The American Psychology Association defines willpower:
“Willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.”
Willpower is our self-discipline that gives us the inner strength to overcome challenges and meet our goals. It’s our drive that keeps us focused and moving forward. It’s our resolve to stay on track and do what we think we can do. We have varying degrees of willpower and employ it in complicated ways.
Willpower is so vital to our fitness goals, but it can also be elusive. Especially in a world where corporations pray on our weaknesses and know when we’re vulnerable. Advertising is constantly bombarding us with messaging about the latest greatest burger or treat. Seven days a week and 24 hours a day we are bombarded with ads for fast, cheap processed foods. Willpower is a necessary component of fitness and healthy eating. Resisting these temptations can deplete your willpower.
Alcohol, sugar, fat, sodium and excess calories are available in supermarkets, conveniences stores and restaurants. We’re surrounded by excess. How do you build up your superpower and use it when you need it? How can you manage your willpower so it can keep you on track with your health, fitness and well-being?
Avoid temptation. The more you tempt yourself the more you’re forced to use your willpower. If you’re trying to lose weight, does it make sense to walk into a candy store? If you’re having trouble staying motivated to work out does it make sense to watch more TV? Temptations put roadblocks in front of us and test our resolve. If you know your temptations and can avoid them, you don’t have to do the battle. Manage your temptations so you can pick your battles.
Manage your triggers. A trigger is something in a situation or environment that sets off an unwanted behavior. A stressful situation can trigger emotional eating. Watching a football game triggers the need to snack. Having a drink after work can cause you to skip a workout. Working too much can lead to a lack of sleep. Learn what your triggers are and how to manage them.
Keep your reservoir full. Research suggests we possess a limited reservoir of willpower. If we stress our willpower too much or for too long, we run low on it. Just like muscles get depleted from working out, our willpower gets depleted from too much use. We need to manage our willpower and keep enough in reserve for any occasion. By avoiding temptations and managing triggers you’re giving your reserves time to build up. Know when your willpower may be needed and make sure you’re ready for the challenge.