Did you know that when you strengthen willpower in one area of your life, it can spill over into other areas? It’s like when you go to the gym and workout your biceps—well, those stronger biceps come in handy outside the gym, too. In fact, willpower is very much like a muscle—it can be strengthened over time, and it can be depleted pretty quickly when challenged. It is important to understand willpower because healthy eating can be a big challenge to tackle. By strengthening your willpower around your eating habits, you will be more likely to succeed in the long run.
To strengthen your willpower, pick a small behavior you’d like to turn into a habit. It can be food-related but doesn’t have to be. For instance, you could decide to begin keeping a food log after every eating episode. Recording what you eat has been shown to help people lose weight even without intentionally changing what they eat. Perhaps you want to make sure the kitchen sink is empty before settling in to watch Netflix. Whatever you choose, commit to following through with it every day no matter what.
If you stick with your new habit long enough, you will start to see your developing discipline bleed over into other areas of your life—including your eating. But this will only happen if you follow through every day no matter what. Maybe the thought of confessing that pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Häagen Dass on paper is too much (and besides, how much hot fudge and whipped cream did I eat anyway?)—but you must record it in your food log! Following through on commitments whether you want to or not builds willpower. NOT following through does the opposite—it ensures that your old habits remain firmly in place.
Pick a chore or activity you’d like to be doing regularly—be very specific about what you’re doing, even for how long in some cases (i.e., I’ll write for 20 minutes/day Monday through Friday right after breakfast). Once you have a plan, implement it and watch your discipline and willpower grow.