If you’re waiting for the day that you’ll wake up and *poof* have the iron-clad willpower of Gywneth Paltrow, then, well…you might be waiting for quite a while. In my opinion, willpower—for the most part—is not a genetic blessing possessed by only the skinny elite. To me, willpower is created through a series of conscious efforts that later help you make good decisions.
Here’s what I mean:
When I pass on the bread basket when dining out with friends, it’s either because: A.) I ate wholesome, satiating foods prior to the meal and/or was prepared with a late afternoon snack. or B.) Had a little conversation with myself about whether or not the bread was really worth it. I always ask myself, “How much do I want this?” (Usually the answer is, not much!)
I also almost always look at dinner menus prior to going out to eat to see what the healthy options are. That way, I have it set in my mind what I’m going to order and my focus is on making a good choice—not on what my cravings might be or what my friends are ordering. And sometimes, you need to get creative. If an appetizer or side veggies are the best options, then make it your meal! There’s no rule that says you have to order an entrée. So, what may appear to be willpower to some, really just comes down to being prepared, which I will address later.
Another idea that feeds my “willpower” is my belief that EVERY small bite and good effort matters. (Small changes lead to big results, remember?) If you’re constantly eating bread you don’t actually want; grabbing mini Hershey kisses off your co-workers desk; eating spoonfuls of peanut butter out of the jar while cooking dinner or eating dessert every night out of habit (Yes, it’s a habit, not your insatiable sweet tooth), then you’re really not practicing mindful eating—which yes, can be viewed as willpower. I think about my choices and work through cravings and impulsive feelings, and accept that I need to do this in order to reach my goals and be my best self.
And I know this isn’t the first, second or even third time I’ve said this, but being prepared is crucial. How is it even possible to resist bagels and cream cheese at the office if you didn’t already eat a healthy breakfast at home? And how can you snack smart if you supply your kitchen with processed, “trigger” foods that always leave you wanting more? Set yourself up to succeed! Don’t keep your freezer stocked with ice cream and then reprimand yourself for not having enough willpower to deny it in a moment of weakness. That’s just not nice!
Tell me: What are your feelings about willpower? Do you now see it in a different light?
– ELLEN COLLIS