Raise your hand if you don’t want to lose three to five pounds. No matter how you want to make yourself believe that you love your weight, deep inside, you wish to shop for clothes and ask for a size two or four from the sales attendant. However, regular exercise and choosing the right combination of healthy and nutritious foods are not enough.
Believe it or not, there is one component that you need to strengthen and develop to help you lose those pesky pounds: willpower.
It may sound easy, since willpower is about allowing your brain to think rationally and control your urge to finish the entire double patty cheeseburger.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Most of the time, you let your stomach rule over your brain, making it easier for you to give in to temptation. Then later on, you’ll regret eating the whole box of chocolates all by yourself.
If you really want to strengthen your willpower and lose that unwanted flab, then here are 10 simple ways to do it.
1. Choose Your Sugar Wisely
Here’s a fact: willpower runs on sugar. This means that your brain needs glucose to function well, just like your muscles.
Based on research, those with steady glucose levels are more persistent in solving a given task, compared to those with lower sugar levels.
Still, this doesn’t mean you can eat chocolates and candies to supply your body’s need for glucose. Aside from making you fat, sugary processed foods are not good for your body.
If you want increase your glucose levels and fuel your willpower, stick to healthy sugar-rich foods such as fruits, whole grains and dairy. This ensures you’re healthy, too.
2. Always Remember Why Losing Weight Is Important To You
Oh, come on. You always say “been there, done that,” because you tried so many diets and workout routines, but never really finished anything. Even if you do, you end up going back to your old ways. So, what do you think went wrong?
The answer is simple. Weight loss is not that important to you. Or, you are too pressured to try out different diets because this Hollywood actress is doing it. If you really want to lose weight, then outline the reasons why you want to do it – and it’s not because you want that FHM body every girl is wishing.
In other words, you want to lose weight because you sincerely want to be fit and healthy. However, this is not an overnight success, so it will take some time before you can reap the benefits.
3. Establish Weight Loss Habits
Let’s face it. Willpower is not enough to permanently change your behavior towards food. Apparently, committing yourself to do this and that instantly won’t last.
The solution? Develop habits, one at a time.
Did you know that it takes 21 days to develop and live with a certain habit? Then follow that rule. Every month, focus on adopting one habit that supports your quest to lose weight. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic. Start with getting rid of soda and chips, then move on to 20-minute workout every morning.
It may not be as enticing as “losing weight in seven days,” but slow and steady wins and is more effective than sudden changes in your lifestyle.
4. Never Say No To Food
You want to lose weight, right? If you answered yes, then this would mean you have to cut back calories and eliminate certain food groups. Wrong.
Unfortunately, this could lead to two things. One, you are depriving yourself of essential nutrients, which your body needs to function properly. Two, it is very unhealthy. Three, you will end up eating more.
Therefore, don’t eat too little or skip meals. Remember the “willpower runs on sugar?” If your brain notices that sugar levels are dropping, it worries about starvation and cuts certain functions to preserve energy. This includes your willpower.
The not so good result is that you go binge eating since hunger tends to cloud your mind. Just eat regular and portioned meals, and have healthy snacks with you in case you get hungry.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Fact: people these days are sleep-deprived – no thanks to stress, responsibilities at home and in work, and even with kids crying incessantly at night.
Sure, experts recommend at least six to eight hours of sleep every night but the truth is, not everyone is getting that. In fact, most people can live with four or five hours, if they are lucky.
It may seem harmless, but lack of sleep can take a toll on your willpower. It impairs the function of your prefrontal cortex, or the part of your brain that is responsible for practicing self-control, and leads to lower willpower.
Plus, lack of sleep can even lead to eating more, especially sweets and junk food, since you need the “energy” to help you last through the day.
6. Allow Yourself A Cheat Day
Don’t be too hard on yourself. It is understandable that you want to lose a few pounds, so you can fit in your skinny jeans again.
This is the reason why some people break down. There are those who can’t live without eating chocolates, cakes or brownies.
Totally depriving yourself can make you go crazy, so go ahead and have at least one day for that. Surprisingly, allowing yourself to eat unhealthy food, sans the guilt, can even help you lose more weight.
A piece of advice: don’t go crazy on your cheat day. You’ve worked so hard to achieve a healthy and lean body. Don’t waste all your efforts. Pick your cheat foods wisely, say one a week.
7. Learn To Celebrate Wisely
Aside from cheat days, there is one reason why you can’t say no to food: celebration. Don’t lie.
That feeling where you have to reward yourself for a job well done, both in your weight loss and in non-weight loss goals, is something you can’t avoid. You worked so hard for it. Of course, you deserve to compensate yourself.
Hmm, not exactly. Don’t rely on willpower to deprive yourself for a job well done. However, you have to make sure that the kind of celebration you are thinking will not outweigh the work you’ve done, literally speaking. If you are able to burn 500 calories, make sure to eat something less than that.
Instead of rewarding yourself with food, why not buy a new pair of workout sneakers or treat yourself to a movie? This saves you from gaining the calories you burned, don’t you think?
8. Play Defense
Think of weight loss as basketball. In basketball, you need to guard the ball to make sure your opponent won’t be able to make a basket. Apply that concept in weight loss. You need to guard your ref or pantry so any unhealthy and unnecessary food can’t come in.
Based on a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, those with best self-control are the ones who don’t often use their willpower. This means instead of weighing whether to eat this or that, they set up their lives to minimize temptation.
In other words, toss out Ben and Jerry’s, pizzas, that bag of chips and any unhealthy foods inside the pantry. By minimizing temptation, you’ll be able to use willpower less often.
9. Establish Small But Realistic Weight Loss Goals
The bigger picture is to lose weight and shed of unwanted pounds. The question now is, what you will do to be able to achieve that goal?
If you want to boost your willpower to help you lose weight, then make sure to take small, but manageable steps in order to achieve bigger goals.
Trying to fast forward everything will lead you nowhere, at least in the weight loss department. Therefore, focus on losing one pound per week or slowly getting rid of refined carbs and sugar. The more realistic you are, the easier it is for your willpower to do its job in helping you get rid of unwanted pounds.
10. Don’t Deny. Just Delay
You are offered a bowl of chili and nachos. You are salivating for sure, but your brain is reminding you about your workout earlier. Instead of saying no to the bowl of chili, tell yourself you will eat it later.
Based on studies, those who postpone are more capable of resisting food temptations than those who constantly say no.
Aside from this, “no” intensifies your cravings and feelings of deprivation, compared to the effect of “later.” Delaying weakens the desire, allowing your willpower to control your brain – for now – so you can reap the rewards later.
The bottom line is weight loss is more about mindset and sugar levels than following particular diets or workout routines. Of course, these two weight loss techniques will surely get you the results you want, but without adding a little bit of willpower, you won’t be able to fulfill these two properly. Just follow these simple tips to boost your willpower and you will surely see the results in no time.