The Power Struggle of the Wills

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meditationWeight loss along with many other things in life requires willpower… and goals and follow through, of course. When you’re faced with a challenge that gives you a choice between moving closer to your goal and moving further away, what is it that helps you make the right choice?

Willpower, determination, stubbornness, insanity? Probably a combo of all of these if you ask for a non-scientific opinion. Have you ever met someone who has iron willpower? What is it about them that makes them so strong? Are they different than others? Do they want “it” more so they can hold out from temptation?

I’m reading an interesting book on willpower. I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at staying on track under normal circumstances but you never know and it applies to so many things, not just food and health. Studies were conducted where people were asked how many times a day they were faced with food related choices.

The answer was first given off the top of the respondent’s’ heads without tracking. The average answer was 14 times a day. Seems pretty average to me. When these same people were asked to actually track their food related choices, the answer was a whopping 227!

Most times we unconsciously make choices be them good or bad. Since we don’t even know we are doing it, the trick doesn’t seem to be making a concerted effort to make the right choice. It’s more of ingraining your goals so that you make the correct choice without even thinking about it. Get your subconscious in on the willpower. It’s also learning to be more aware of when you are faced with a choice so that you don’t mindlessly fall off the wagon.

I’ve found myself failing on this second item plenty of times. I’d get home from work, walk in the kitchen to drop all my stuff down, reach into the pantry and grab two cookies. Down the hatch without considering if I was hungry or not. Years of this, seriously! It was a very hard habit for me to break. Once I started trying to pay attention, I found myself picking up the cookies and aiming at my mouth.

It was a conscious effort at first to put them down! Some nights in the beginning, those same cookies would go up and then down several times. No lie. It took a while to first recognize I was doing it, and then a little longer to stop it as it was happening. Now I don’t even miss them except when I think of how many oreos I ate without even realizing it. If you don’t notice eating, you aren’t even enjoying the darn things!

The book has an interesting suggestion on how to become more aware of when we are faced with these choices – meditation. Take 5 – 10 minutes each day to focus on nothing but laying still and breathing. When your mind wanders, stop the thoughts whatever they may be and come back to the now. Bring the focus back to laying and breathing. The author goes on to explain that the ones who experience the most success in improving their conscious choices are the ones who suck the most at meditation concentration.

Your mind wanders, you notice, and you bring it back into the moment. The more this happens, the more experience you get in realizing it’s happening. This eventually translates into better self awareness when faced with challenging choices. Interesting theory, huh? The more you learn to recognize that you are faced with a choice, the more you can focus on making the choice instead of going on auto-pilot.

This can apply to more than just weight loss. Have you ever been side tracked with impulse purchases and buyer’s remorse? Yep, me too. 😉 Let’s meditate together. More self-awareness can never be a bad thing, right?

PS – One very simple thing that finally worked in breaking my cookie habit was to move the cookies. They were still in the house, but the act of moving them kept auto-pilot from happening and inserted a pause in the habit loop. I reached for them, they weren’t there, and that gave me time to redirect myself.

If you’re interested in working with me to change some old habits while working towards your health goals, that’s what coaching is all about and I’d love to chat. Drop me an email, or come on over to Facebook and ask a question.

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