5 sneaky ways we destroy our diets and willpower (and strategies to overcome them)

Willpower

Having discussed previously the importance of willpower. Today I want to discuss 5 little known ways you could be destroying your willpower reserves and simple strategies you can take to try and overcome them.

Willpower and self discipline are vital to any diet. The ability to say no to the unhealthy option or easy option is what will lead to long term success . We all know if we eat healthier and train then we will look better, feel better. We all know drinking alcohol and eating McDonald's every day for lunch is not our best option. 

In the last article we discussed how our willpower is like a bucket of water. The more we need to use our willpower, the quicker our willpower reserves empty and we succumb to the easiest option which can be anything, whether pizza at the end of a long day or a few too many drinks. We are constantly bombarded with scenarios in our life where our willpower takes such a hit. This could be looking after the kids all day and treating that bottle of wine as a gods send. It could be working on a really hard project in work that requires so much concentration. Or coming up to Christmas as many in retail would agree, it could be listening to very impatient customers all day. 

 

The truth is we are bombarded with stimulus all day that affects our willpower. If we constantly need our willpower for tasks other than our health and fitness then training and healthy eating will take the back seat. 

Below are 5 key ways we destroy our willpower and strategies to overcome them.

 1) Alcohol

Now, everybody knows alcohol and diets do not go well together. We all know there are tonnes of calories in our bottle of wine. Another problem with alcohol however is its effect on willpower. Alcohol affects the hormones in our body related to hunger, making us crave all the unhealthy foods loaded with sugar and salt. We can have the most incredible willpower in the world but throw in a full night out and the diet will go out the window the following day.

 

Strategy  

Now obviously cutting out alcohol or reducing it as best we can is going to be our better option but if that is not possible then there are steps we can take to reduce its toll on our willpower. 

- Have a pre-cooked healthy breakfast ready for the next day. This ensures we don't need to worry about what to eat the next morning. If our willpower is so low from the alcohol then the fry or McDonalds breakfast will always win. Having a pre-cooked tasty breakfast ensures there is no thinking involved the next morning 

-Choose the healthiest option for your your take-away. What most likely accompanies alcohol is a take-away both on the night of drinking and the next day. When choosing a take away opt for the healthiest option you think you can. This can be switching from fried rice to boiled rice switching battered variations for regular. Any change is better than none but go for the healthiest option. 

 

2) Sitting straight down after work 

Now this might seem like a strange one but a lot of people sit down straight after work plonk the feet up and stick on the telly. There is nothing truly wrong with this especially after working hard all day. The problem lies in what happens afterwards, usually what ends up happening is we stick on the soaps, grab the Ipad and open Facebook for the night. These supply our brain with a lot of stimulus slowly emptying that willpower the longer we lie there. The longer we lie there the less we get done and the less likely we are to exercise or cook up a healthy meal. 

 

Strategy 

Train Before Work- Training before work in the morning when our willpower is at its highest ensures we don't need to worry about willing ourselves to the gym at 6/7 at night after a long day in work. 

-Have a healthy dinner prepared and eat straight after work- This is a key one if you tend to sit straight down after work before thinking of dinner. Have your dinner cooked in advanced so you can avoid having to think after work. 

3) Having Unhealthy Food in Sight 

The more food we have in sight the more likely we are to eat it. This is why shops always sneakily place all the convenient bars of chocolate right at the tills before we get our shopping. As we come in from work our willpower is already in a very tender situation. Throw in sitting straight down and watching the telly for a few hours and those crisps and mars bar in the front of the press seem a lot more attractive than that apple somewhere in the kitchen. 

 

Strategy

Out of sight, out of mind- The easier it is for us to get to the unhealthy snacks, the quicker we succumb and eat them. We all like a treat and cutting them completely out might be too much of a stretch. Instead place the unhealthy snacks at the back of your press which makes them a lot more of an effort to reach. This can often be a simple way to stop the all out binge

Healthy items in view- If we eat what we see first then placing the healthy fruits and vegetables in plain sight right in front of us we are more likely to eat them. This coupled with the unhealthy snacks hidden, we are set up for success after the long day of work

4) Lack of sleep 

Now we all know the benefits of sleep for health and weight loss but also bear in mind that nothing will kill our willpower more than lack of sleep. Along with this lack of sleep can raise our cravings for unhealthy carbs and sugars by a large amount. Sleep is such an important topic that it warrants an article on its own.

 

Strategy

Leave the phone outside the room - so often we go to bed at a reasonable hour and then end up taking our phone out and spend hours on social media or playing games. Leave the phone just outside your room so you don't have access to it. This can also help with getting up in the mornings. If you set your alarm, it forces you to get up out of bed to switch off the alarm.

Switch off all lights in your room- Our brains release hormones when light hits our bodies. This can affect our perceived levels of tiredness. Shutting down all lights before bed allows our bodies to naturally drift off. 

5) Stressed starts to the day 

Stress is another big fish relating to diet that needs addressing again in a separate article. Here I want to discuss stress as it relates to the morning time. Quite often we wake up in a complete rush, we jump up from our alarms shouting at us after not enough sleep. We are in a rush and grab the easiest breakfast if any at all. Often we've to get the kids ready and sit in traffic as we bring them to school. Following from this we go to work ourselves sitting in traffic. The morning seems to be just go go go at the best of times. The problems with this however is it takes a lot of energy and reserves from our willpower. We sit down in work finally getting a breather. Lunch comes around and after the stressed caffeine filled morning, we quickly crash and grab the easiest and tastiest thing on our break. This is most often the unhealthiest.

 

Strategy

Prepare the night before- such an easy thing to do is preparing for the next day the night before. However looking at the previous 4 points we realise that we can be exhausted in the evenings and getting prepared the night before can seem too much. What we can do however is set out easy options for breakfast on nights we are exhausted. Put the wheatabix or whatever cereal and spoon out on the table the night before. This removes any thinking again from the equation in the mornings. 

Wake up an hour earlier- If you can't prepare the night before then try waking up an hour before the madness begins. By waking up earlier you can prepare yourself for the day before everything kicks off. Create a ritual where mornings are no longer stress filled rushes.

 wake up and have breakfast, read the news, go on a walk. It doesn't really matter what you do in the morning once it becomes routine. By waking up earlier you are not thrown into the big stress in the morning where a crash inevitably follows

 

So there you go guys. These are 5 sneaky things that occur in most of our lives that could be ruining our willpower and sabotaging our diets. My advice is to choose one sneaky act that seems to be your weakness. From there try one strategy for at least 2-4 weeks and go from there. 

If you like these kind of articles about diet or willpower, make sure to check out my other articles on willpower and habits. Finally if you like what you read make sure to like the article on Facebook and share. it goes a long way.