When Heather and I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, we used to frequent a small fitness club located in the Caledonian Hotel. Each day after work we would meet to visit the club on our way home. We were very dedicated to getting healthy because it was January, that's when we all have health on our minds.
Many nights would be spent at the pub. We shared a flat with eight wonderful people, but it was tight quarters, so the pub was a nice escape. We would usually pig out on fish and chips along the walk home after the pub. A not-so-healthy choice.
I can't remember exactly when it was in our fitness club foray when we discovered that our passes gave us access to the hot tub, but we were elated when we realized this. We would often hit the weights and cardio machines first, then we would hop into the hot tub and soak our troubles away.
At some point things changed. We would skip the weights, do the cardio, and use the hot tub. Then we started skipping the cardio and we would just soak in the hot tub. It was probably early February when we would meet at the pub first and then go to the hot tub. You can see where this is going, right?
Needless to say, we decided not to renew our health club memberships. We were shameful and disappointed that we didn't stick to our healthy New Year resolutions.
It's now getting to that time that many of us who made resolutions are slipping or have given up entirely. Here are some ways to improve your willpower to get back on the horse.
8 Steps to Increase Willpower
I came across a fantastic article from the Guardian about willpower by Will Storr. In it, he writes about Walter Mischell's book, The Marshmellow Test. Mischell shares how to improve your willpower in seven steps. Here they are from the article:
1. Transform the meaning of stimuli "It sounds like a heavy phrase but what does it mean?" says Walter Mischel. "I have coeliac disease. When I eat gluten, I get a burning itch. So when I look at pasta, I don't think of it as yummy, delicious and great, I think of it as poisonous, connected to the itch."
2. Distance yourself Look at yourself as if you're a fly on the wall. Describe yourself to yourself as if you were another person. A simple thing such as referring to yourself by your name rather than "I, me" gives you an advantage.
3. Make the object of your desire abstract Pretend it's not really there. Put a frame around it in your head and make believe it's only a picture.
4. Eat chocolate If you need a momentary boost, scoff sugar. (This tip is less successful for dieters).
5. One thing at a time Willpower is like a muscle that gets fatigued. If you're dieting, don't try to give up smoking at the same time.
6. Practice small Willpower can be strengthened by regular practice, according to Roy Baumeister, who claims that even things as simple as making sure you're always sitting up straight and speaking in complete sentences can build up your power of self-control, which will improve in other areas.
7. Eat well Evidence suggests that self-control draws disproportionately on blood glucose, which is a fuel for the brain. Sleeping well and eating food that provides a long, slow release of sugar helps.
8. The 'If, Then' technique Tell yourself, "If I see pie on the menu, then I'll order the tuna salad." It has to be highly specific and practiced until automatic.
Have you tried these before? Did they work for you?
I'm giving them a try now, even though we just ordered Girl Scout cookies from Ella. How evil is it of the Girl Scouts to be canvassing for cookies in January?!
I am excited to test my willpower when those deliciously fattening cookies appear on our doorstep. Tagalongs are like kryptonite to my willpower, but I will stay true and stick to resisting them!
If I fail, follow the cookie crumbs right to the hot tub.