Have you ever wondered how it is that some people can live a fit and healthy life and make it look easy? They seem to have limited energy, willpower, and make the rest of us look bad.
Does it come down to them having mental strength and determination we just don’t have? Or is it something else? Something that could be learned?
Find out here 5 secrets to boosting your willpower and making weight loss and getting fit so much easier.
It turns out that human beings have a limited amount of willpower, and it all comes down to the number of decisions they make in a day. The more decisions they make, or the later in the day it is, the less willpower they have, and the more likely they are to choose the decision that requires the least energy.
Lets take exercise as a great example. Exercising first thing in the morning has a much greater long term compliance rate than afternoon exercise, because if you wake up in the morning, put your running shoes on, and get straight onto the treadmill, you have had a very limited number of decisions you have had to make in the day so far.
Compare this to exercising after work, when you are mentally exhausted, have made hundreds of decisions through the day, and an option of “evening bootcamp vs. evening on the couch watching trashy TV” seems so much harder.
There is one often ignored factor which can make a HUGE difference to your energy levels throughout the day, your mood, and therefore your ability to make healthy choices in the face of easier but less healthy choices. What is it?
Hydration status. The majority of us wake up mildly dehydrated, having not had any water to drink in the 8 or so hours while we were sleeping, and having lost water overnight through sweat or breathing. And what is the first thing many of us reach for upon waking? A cup of coffee.
Coffee, depending on your level of tolerance, body size etc. is generally not as good as water for hydrating you, and in some cases can even have a dehydrating effect, as caffeine is a diuretic. It is important to rehydrate in the mornings, and so a great tip is to have two glasses of water while you wait for the kettle to boil.
3: 25 minutes
Something quite wonderful happens at around the 25 minute mark of moderate to high intensity exercise- the endorphins kick in, and the effects of this can last for hours or even the whole day! This is where a 15 minute walk just won’t give you the same benefits in terms of energy and mental clarity.
The rule of thumb- you want to be exercising at a point where you break a sweat, or where if someone asked you a question you could answer them, but you probably are a little too out of breath to sing. If your fitness isn’t quite up to 25 minutes straight of this intensity of exercise, start with intervals- 30 seconds of higher intensity exercise, then drop it back to low intensity for 30 seconds while you get your breath back, and repeat.
4: Low GI foods
The human body is designed to function very well in terms of energy, concentration, and mood, when our blood sugars are kept fairly consistent throughout the day- no big sugar highs or crashes. How can this be achieved?
By including moderate amounts of low GI carbohydrates at regular intervals throughout the day. Whether you choose three smaller main meals and two mid meal snacks, or three moderately sized main meals without snacks, you want to space them as evenly throughout the day as possible, and of course breakfast is an incredibly important part of your day.
Low GI foods include whole fruit (skins on when possible), vegetables (apart from white potato), wholegrain bread or cereals, Sobi noodles, wholemeal pasta, grainy crackers, basmati rice, lentils, and low fat + no added sugar dairy products. A moderate amount of carbohydrate for a meal is around 45-60g of carbohydrate (red the label). For example 1.5 cups of pasta.
It’s so much easier to make the right decisions when you have a plan to follow, instead of being forced to make healthy decisions constantly through the day. “What should I eat for breakfast?” “Should I buy water or soft drink?” “What should I pack for lunch?” etc.
Choose a time of the week when you naturally feel more motivated- maybe a Sunday morning when you are relaxed and had a bit of a sleep in? Do a simple plan for your week- when you are going to workout, what your meals and snacks are going to be, what your goals are that week e.g. drinking two glasses of water first thing in the morning every day.
This makes it easier for you to grocery shop, to pack a lunch for the next day, and know what to focus on. Leaving more willpower left over for whatever life throws at you.
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