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You either have or you don’t, right? Behavioral studies would show this to be incorrect. Willpower is a complex behavior that is ever changing. I teach my patients that every decision during your day is a different decision. Do you shower? Do you brush your teeth? Do you get dressed? Some choices are behaviors that are based on a habit and pattern. The more choices we give ourselves, the more likely we will make a decision that does not support the healthy lifestyle we are striving for. Do we eat breakfast? Do we exercise? Do we plan our food out for the day? Do we eat the cookie in the break room because it has been a bad day? Do we need a cocktail with dinner to unwind? Do we let go of stress and go to bed on time?

Studies show that every choice we are forced to make depletes our ability to make the next choice a healthy one. We are depleting our willpower with every choice we make. What does this mean when we are trying to make lifestyle changes? It means limit your choices as much as you can to make yourself successful.

  • Eat breakfast every day before you get to work.
  • Plan your meals for the next day and bring your food with you. This eliminates choices during a crazy day.
  • Schedule exercise as part of your day. This is part of the reason having a trainer works so well. You already have it scheduled and it takes away the decision of going or not. You are more likely to cancel on yourself than someone else.
  • Do we keep our home and work environment safe zones or have sweets waiting for us around every corner?

Limit your decisions and you will preserve your willpower.

Food for Thought
“Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your promotion.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

For more reading on the science of willpower, check out these articles:

Training Your Willpower
What Is Ego Depletion
The Willpower Trick

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