The Five Pillars of Willpower
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to turn things around, so you’ve ordered ChaLEAN Extreme or 10-Minute Trainer—or maybe you’re really going for it with FOCUS T25 or P90X3. But that’s only half the battle. After a long day at work, do you really want to Push Play—especially if it means missing American Idol or happy hour with your coworkers? And what about your coffee-and-dessert movie date the next night? Plus don’t forget Sunday is big family dinner night. When is there time for a social butterfly like yourself to squeeze in a workout?
To complicate matters, when you try to explain that you’re on a diet or you’ve already made plans to work out instead, friends and family seem to take it personally, as if you secretly think they should be on a diet! If you’re like me and have an old-fashioned family that eats big, calorie-loaded dinners all the time, telling Mom or Grandma that you’re trying to cut down on portion sizes virtually guarantees that you’ll get handed a second helping of her famous homemade everything—and that second helping will be bigger than the first!
Here are five tips to help you foster and maintain the willpower you’ll need to achieve the fitness goals you’ve just set for yourself, especially when no one else around you seems willing to lend a hand.
1. Take time to explain. If you’re frustrated that those around you aren’t more supportive, or don’t understand why you’re doing this, it’s possible that you need to be clearer about your new plans to get fit. Take the time to explain to family and friends that this isn’t just a fad or a flimsy excuse to avoid hanging out with them. Showing that you’ve got a fitness goal in mind, and a well-thought-out way to achieve it will not only help them understand you’re really serious about it; it’ll also help reinforce it in your own mind, helping you stay focused on what you really want. Besides, once you’ve told the important people in your life what you’re up to, you might be happily surprised to find out that a couple of them might actually want to join you. Boom—instant buddy system for keeping that willpower focused and motivated!
2. Lend a hand, accept a hand. Your immediate circle of friends and family isn’t the only show in town when it comes to getting support. Don’t forget that you have literally thousands of friends on the Beachbody message boards who are experiencing a lot of the same things that you are, and thousands more people on the message boards are standing behind you 24/7 ready to listen and help. And once you get used to accepting their help, you can start giving back and supporting others. It’s a win/win!
3. If you must eat, drink and be merry, at least make it healthy! OK, so maybe not everyone’s idea of a fun time is doing a P90X workout with you or going on a rigorous hike. And let’s face it: Big, communal meals are always going to be a popular way for loved ones to gather together. So how about going to a restaurant that serves healthier choices, or offering to help out in the kitchen for a home-cooked meal by introducing ingredients and recipes that are both more nutritious and perfectly delicious to boot? It’s easier to have the willpower to stay focused on your goals when you make sure healthy choices are readily available.
4. Don’t forget portion control. Even when you do successfully make the switch to healthier foods, eating huge amounts of them won’t help slim down your waistline. A few great tricks for cutting down the amount you eat? Leave the last bite or two unfinished. Never go back for seconds. And if you have a drink, sip it slowly, and one’s the limit! Believe it or not, you’ll still feel full and satisfied without bursting at the seams. (And yes, drink water liberally throughout the evening.) Remember, you simply can’t get magically fit by eating too much and doing all the same old things, no matter how tempting it may be.
5. Give yourself a day off and a well-deserved pat on the back! So you managed to make it through the day or week resisting all these outside forces, and you’ve stuck to your guns. (And your fitness program!) You finally get some alone time, only to feel like you’re ready to give in to all of your old vices. Don’t do it! But do treat yourself to a relaxing massage or a yoga session instead of a vigorous workout if you like. Congratulate yourself on negotiating the tricky dance of sticking to a serious fitness plan in the face of constant pitfalls. And thank your loved ones who have learned to support and even join you in your new quest for a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Yes, willpower comes from within, but learning how you can inspire your loved ones to help you in your journey to a fitter, healthier lifestyle proves the old adage that what goes around comes around. Letting everyone around you know that you really want to make your fitness plan work, and that you’d really appreciate their support as you do it, makes it easier both for you to stick to it and for them to help you stick to it. By successfully defusing all the classic ways your resolve can be eroded, it only makes your willpower—and you—grow stronger.
Author Jeanine Natale
Hi I'm Kelly Richards Mulloy a stay at home mom of 6. I am on a journey to change my life inside and out. Health and fitness, staying young, join me.