Running on Will Power vs. Creating Positive Healthy Lifestyle Habits (Will Power Sucks)
Will power has become the one thing that every person who has ever set out to lose weight and failed feels like they lack. They just don’t have the determination and strength to “stick to their diet” for longer than a few weeks or days. What most fail to realize is that this isn’t the case. What happened was that you tried to do too much too fast, and/or the training and nutrition protocol you’re following isn’t something you can adhere to for the long term. The fact of the matter is that only 20% of people who “diet” keeps their weight off for life. This is a pretty shocking statistic when we consider the amount of people who set out to lose weight each year. But, it’s exactly what we need… it’s exactly why I preach sustainability and making health & fitness part of your lifestyle just as brushing your teeth in the morning is just part of your daily routine. And it’s exactly why will power isn’t the only way.
Forging the road to sustainability is not easy. From the jump, you have to make a decision that comes from inside that you want to change your lifestyle. This comes with a change of mindset from trying to reach your goals as fast as possible, to playing the long game. Even this simple shift in mindset isn’t so simple. Everyone wants to see progress (and we’ll talk about this later) especially physical body changes. The reality of body composition change is that it takes time. It is something that you have to be consistent with and make a part of your lifestyle. This is especially true if you want everlasting change. You must take ownership of your lifestyle and the decisions that have led to where your current state of health is. This is hard. Especially with all of the fad diets, quick fixes, “magic” supplements and misinformation about nutrition, training and health in general. The point I’m trying to make is that it is going to take time. The best way to be healthier, more fit and most importantly feel your very best is to invest time into your health. Make living healthy part of your life just like brushing your teeth in the morning. No will power. Just habit.
We are a stress driven society. Period. The amount of stress that we allow to add up will eventually lead to unwanted weight gain, low sex drive, lack of energy and the list goes on. Less sleep, poor food quality, more alcohol, little to no exercise, relationship conflicts, having a family… the body reacts to all of these the same. Stress is stress. Even if it is not a physical stress, your body has a stress response (rise in stress hormone cortisol) as it is. Many people believe prescription drugs, more caffeine or other stimulants or sometimes more exercise and extreme dieting is the answer. In short, these all stress your system EVEN MORE. When nothing seems to be working, the answer is constantly, “well, I guess I just don’t have the will power to stick to XYZ…”.
I’m here to tell you, that is not the way. And more stress is not the answer. The answer is to begin to create healthier lifestyle habits. This starts with a self-evaluation. Getting a clear understanding of your goals, both short and long term. Then you have to begin to build awareness with your daily life. Your sleep, your water intake, your movement, your nutrition, your stress and everything in between. If any of these categories (or all) are lacking in TLC (tender love & care), it is time to make some small adjustments that you can stick to for a week or two at a time. Whether that’s drinking one more liter of water, walking 2k more steps, hitting the gym three times, eating a veggie at every meal—it’s going to look different for everyone. This is why hiring a coach to hold you accountable and help you get clear with your goals is so key. There are so many different things to talk about here that it would be impossible to narrow it down to just a few. My number one piece of advice would be this: START and START SMALL. If you can make small changes in the short term, it can lead to MASSIVE change in the long term. If you start drinking more water, you’ll have more energy. If you have more energy, you’ll be more inclined to exercise. When you exercise, you will want to fuel your body more effectively… aka eating higher quality foods like veggies, fruit, protein, healthy fat & carbohydrate sources etc.
The final piece to creating lifestyle habits is going to be tracking progress. This means adding up every win, building awareness of your nutritional habits, keeping a training journal, writing down and ranking biofeedback (sleep, energy, mood, sex drive, motivation, hunger, stress, recovery etc.) on a consistent basis is VERY powerful when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. Weight on the scale IS NOT the only way to track progress when you’re trying to become the healthiest version of you. And to be honest, it’s probably the least important factor is most cases. Instead of focusing on the scale, take pictures and pay attention to how your clothes are fitting. This means everything when it comes to creating a healthy relationship with exercise and nutrition.
If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this:
“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” -Mark Twain
At the end of the day, when it comes to becoming your healthiest you, it isn’t about who has the most will power, it’s about who can do something consistently FOR LIFE!