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Why Using Willpower is an Unhealthy Way to Change

Common things I hear from my clients (and things I’ve experienced myself): “Why the hell can’t I just stop eating crap—it’s like I have no willpower at all!” “Everyone around me seems to be able to get up at 5:30 in the morning and go to bootcamp—why can’t I do it?”

The use of willpower when it comes to making lifelong sustainable health changes rarely works, and I think it’s because when willpower is required we are usually engaging (and forcing ourselves) in something we don’t really want to do anyway.

Do you actually want to get up at 5:30am in the morning and go to bootcamp or would you rather get up at 6:00am and take your dog for a walk and finish the walk with some body weight exercises? Do you actually want to give up all junk food or do you simply want to cut back?

My job as a coach is to ask the right questions so that my clients have the opportunity to become VERY clear on what it is they want rather than what the think they should do. A BIG DIFFERENCE.

When you get clear on what you really want because YOU want it, willpower might still need to be used but nowhere to the same degree (if at all).

exercising_the_way_you_want_to_picThis took me ages to learn, because as a personal trainer and food coach I thought I had to be “perfect” and do all these things that every other pt and nutritionist was doing. Everyone else lifted heavy weights, everyone else smashed down protein shakes left, right, and center, and everyone else ate every three hours all the time. I thought I had no willpower because it seemed I just couldn’t do all these things I was “supposed” to do.The reality, of course, isn’t that I don’t have willpower (I’m actually very disciplined and persistent), the reality was that I didn’t actually enjoy doing any of that stuff, but kept trying to force myself to do it. I’d “fail” and think I was lazy.

Are you clear on exactly what healthy habits you actually want to take on? Or are you cookie cutting yourself into what everyone else seems to be doing? Do you realise you get to choose what works for you? And do you realise that means that you get to choose things that are simple, enjoyable, and nurturing to you?

It’s your choice AND your responsibility.

Dog Walk Photo Credit: cassidy chambers photography via Compfight ccBasketball Photo Credit: muha... via Compfight cc

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