How To Get The Willpower To Change Habits

Nov 2, 2018

I’m sat on my sofa with a glass of ginger and cherry infused kefir water (my latest experiment which I’ll share with you in the next couple of weeks, results pending), and it is POURING with rain outside. We’ve had more rain in 12 hours than we usually get in the whole of November, following a tornado which rippled through the island earlier this week – it’s been a crazy week on the weather front.

Today I’m sharing my hopefully very honesty, straight-talking approach to the below question which comes up a lot with my nutrition and personal training clients…

‘How can I get the willpower to change habits’, e.g. eating more healthily, exercising regularly?

My answer:

Here’s the thing, most of the time it’s not a lack of education that stops people from doing the things they know they ‘should’ do to look after themselves. We all know that drinking too much coffee, overeating processed sugar, working 12-hour days and not eating enough vegetables is not going to result in us feeling our healthiest selves, but sometimes we might do it anyway.

We are all human, and that means we don’t always get things right – it’s okay.

The reality is, changing everything at once which can be very tempting to do when you want to see change is likely to result in giving up as change can be notoriously tricky, especially when we overload ourselves with too big a shift.

One of the sayings I like most here in Menorca is ‘poc a poc’, which translates as ‘slowly slowly’

If you know that coffee is something that you need to cut back on because you’re currently reliant on it or it makes you feel jittery with nervous energy, cut back one at a time before switching to a herbal tea for a period of time. Create small wins.

If you’re currently overeating processed sugar as a pick-me-up and you know you would feel better for replacing it with something more nourishing, pick just one recipe for a healthy alternative, make a batch, freeze it and be proud of yourself.

If you know you need to get to bed earlier and you’ve got into the bad habit of Netflix’ing at night, rather than aiming to go to bed earlier five days a week, start with two days a week and edge your bedtime forward by 10 minutes each night.

If you love dining out but you know it’s steering you away from making the food choices you ordinarily would choose if you had full control over your meals, ask your friends for healthy food recommendations and branch out!

Most importantly, do it one step at a time, poc a poc. If you think of the cumulative difference of all these simple swaps over the course of 6 months to a year, you’ll be a very different person for having approached change in a patient and systematic way.

Everyone is different, some people like to set up a schedule of the changes they’d love to implement whereby they add a new wellness practice to their daily routine every week or fortnight, for others, one routine can have a positive domino effect on the next, and it’s just taking that first initial step.

Remember, it’s what you do consistently over time that affects your health, not what you do on a sporadic basis, give yourself grace – it’s okay not to get things right all the time. Be patient, don’t overhaul your diet/fitness regime at once because it’s just not realistic and you will more than likely be setting yourself up for failure.

Daily habits and everyday choices will get you closer to your health and wellness goals, not having more “willpower”

Willpower is short-lived and comes from emotions which are changeable, habits, on the other hand, are day-to-day actions that can lead to change. You can be intentional with the changes that you want to implement, and then all that’s missing is a strategy to implement that plan.

“Willpower by itself is not enough. If we want to achieve lasting change, we must have an effective strategy.” – Tony Robbins

A FEW SUGGESTIONS TO GET YOU STARTED

1). EXERCISE 

Exercise isn’t a consistent part of your weekly routine, and you struggle to move your body on a regular basis then what could you do to change that? How can you add some enjoyment, much-needed accountability and perhaps a challenge to your body? Email me on hello@Jessipes.co.uk to see if I have spaces on my 3 x weekly online workouts which I run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and join me on the mat for a sweaty HIIT session (tweaked for all fitness levels, you train at home, I see you, you see me, and I support you on the exercise front). If I don’t have space, then I’ll put you on my Waiting Lise so you’ll be the first to know when a space does come up.

2). FRUIT & VEG

If you’re in a rut with not getting enough fruit and veg into your day, make yourself a green smoothie at the start of your day to drink en route to work. Load it up with a handful of leafy green veg, and that’s you ticked off one portion of veg already. You can get great powdered greens now which can add a real boost to your smoothie and berries, nuts and seeds are readily available from all supermarkets making it easy to whizz a tasty, nutrient-dense liquid breakfast that you can adjust to your taste buds.

3). REDUCE ALCOHOL

Set a number of alcohol-free days for the week and mark them in your diary. Once you know which days you’re intentionally NOT drinking, you’ll be a lot less likely to default into drink mode. Giving your body a break from daily alcohol will allow your body to truly recover and not be in constant firefighting mode, taking the dull off of your energy.

4). WORK INTENTIONALLY (& PRODUCTIVELY)

When we have deadlines and periods of additional workloads, the number of working hours can increase, impacting the number of hours designated to sleep, self-care, community, family time and enjoyment of life. A reduction in all of these essential factors makes us less productive during the hours we work. When you show up for work, be in work mode, schedule in breaks, take a walk and re-oxygenate your body and you’ll recharge so that you can work more productively.

Which tip resonated with you the most? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time,

Jess xx

 

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Hi, I’m Jess! Nutritional Therapist  & Personal Trainer, sharing workouts & nutrition made simple from my island home in Menorca. My mission? To educate & inspire people to achieve & sustain their personal health & body shape goals. I love to hike, cook, and bring inspiring people together.

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