Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Make Me Lose My Self-Control

Self-Control.  Willpower.
We demonize our "lack of self-control," but what do you really know about it?
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Here is a scenario:
You wake up in the morning, a little tired but refreshed.  You go to your closet...and the decision making for the day begins!  After 4 wardrobe changes (and some negative self-talk causing those wardrobe changes...and now a messy closet), you head downstairs to make breakfast.  You realize you are short on time, so you grab some oatmeal to make at work with some fruit and head out the door.  Once you get to work, you grab some coffee and head to the stack of papers you left on your desk from the previous day.  You realize you have meetings throughout the day to prep for and log on to a couple dozen emails.  The whole morning consists of making decisions, fixing problems, etc.  By lunch, you are starving, but try to make a healthier choice of a soup and salad and a bun.  After sitting in a few stressful meetings, you come back to your desk and need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.  So you head to the local coffee shop for a grande latte and muffin.  After finishing the work day, you were supposed to stop at the gym on the way home, but you just want to go crash on the couch first.  SO the couch wins, and so does the huge Chinese container of take-out you picked up on the way back.  A couple hours of re-runs (and maybe a few glasses of wine) later, you are craving something sweet.  Suddenly, the ice cream container and a spoon appear in your lap.  Well, time for bed!  Tomorrow will be better.
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Okay, so maybe your day goes a little differently, but perhaps there are some similarities.  Do you feel like you make your best choice for food in the morning?  Do you start to feel run down or like you need a "pick-me-up" in the afternoon?  Is it hard for you to make healthy choices in the evening after a long day at work?

I want to talk about self-control. (Although there are many points we could analyze in this scenario!)  Psychologists have been studying self-control for years and have many interesting findings that may have you thinking about self-control differently.  Knowledge is power.  Although I will relate these to nutrition and exercise, they certainly apply to anything!

1.  Self-control is a LIMITED resource.  Not everyone has the same amount of self-control, but no one has a limitless amount.

You aren't superwoman (or superman!).  Every decision you make throughout the day wears on that self-control, starting with your outfit choice.  Do not tempt yourself with making those "self-controlled" decisions throughout the day.  As I've been hearing over and over recently, "control the controllable."

Pick out that outfit the night before.  Put the candy bowl away at work or at home.  Don't buy the treats and keep them in the house where you constantly have to pass them up.  You will eventually cave and feel bad about it, causing that downward spiral.

2. Habits are comfortable and require little self-control. People are creatures of habit and enjoy settling into daily routines.

While it may take some self-control while you are developing the habit, it will help you in the long run.  Pick out that outfit the day before and stick to it - one less decision.  Pack your lunch.  Meal prep on the weekend.  Write a list in your planner of your workouts for the week.

3. STRESS requires more self-control and drains your energy.

Isn't this one the truth!?  Emotional energy that would be used to handle self-control is used up when dealing with stressful situations.  Learning to manage stress and negative emotions must be implemented into your daily life, as hard as it may be.  Sweating it out, unwinding with a bath, a book, a massage, etc.  It also helps to have people close with you to chat about the stress from work, your personal life, as so on.



4. Self-control RENEWS daily, being highest in the mornings.

This is the big one for those who are trying to start a healthy lifestyle and routine.  This is the reason that people who exercise in the morning are usually most successful in sticking with their program.  It also explains why we are able to follow healthy eating in the early part of the day, but give into those temptations in late afternoon and the evening.



Almost every person I talk to who wants to "get healthy" tells me they do well all day until the evening.  These 4 aspects work together.  Now that you realize you can't expect yourself to have self-control 100% of the time or 100% of the day, how will you change YOUR LIFE to reflect these facts?

Personally, I keep my trigger foods and temptations out of the house (or out of sight since my hubs loves his chips!)  I've made it a habit to have meals prepped for the week.  I've made it a habit to have my {Shakeology} every single day.  I've made it a habit to eat all of my meals early in the day, finishing dinner by 4-5 pm and having some tea if I feel I "want something" later in the evening.  Eating early helps me sleep better and I feel refreshed when I wake up in the morning.  I admit I haven't mastered how to handle stress, but every day is a work in progress!

How will you learn to handle your self-control?  Share your tips!



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