We often feel that in order to change a habit, we need to muster up bucket loads of willpower to turbo boost ourselves forward.
Unfortunately, willpower is unreliable, easily exhausted and not around when you need it the most. To sustain real change, you can’t depend on it, but there are some things you can do to strengthen it.
In Kelly McGonigal’s book Willpower Instinct, she talks about the fact that we have one brain but two minds. One part (the reptilian brain or amygdala) is only interested in instant gratification, being comfortable and maintaining the status quo. The other part (the pre-frontal cortex) wants more for us, is interested in our long-term goals and governs future-oriented thinking. The problem is that these two parts of our minds are often at odds with each other.
For example, you see a tempting dessert calling your name but remember you’re trying to cut down on your sugar intake. When your willpower is low (which is often the case), the part of you that just wants to feel good wins and sabotages your goals. Sound familiar?
So the name of the game is strengthening the part of the brain that is on your side so that, more often than not, you make choices that are in line with your goals and intentions.
McGonigal outlines four habits that strengthen, grow and improve connections in your pre-frontal cortex. These habits have their own benefits, and they help you have better self-control and make better decisions in your day-to-day life.
The four habits are:
· Sleep. If you’re tired and run down, you not only make bad choices, but you put your brain (and body) at a disadvantage. “Less than 6 hours of sleep at night per day is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation and worsening insulin resistance, as well as increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Inadequate rest impairs our ability to think, to handle stress, to maintain a healthy immune system and to moderate our emotions. It’s associated with heart disease, hypertension, weight gain, diabetes, and a wide range of psychiatric disorders including depression and anxiety. “ — Chris Kessler. If you struggle with sleep, check out my upcoming Better Sleep Workshop.
· Exercise. When you work out, you not only build your muscles, but you also improve brain functioning, which leads to better self-control. Exercise sparks neurogenesis (the creation of entirely new brain cells) as well as strengthens existing cells. Just another one of many reasons to get moving! Check out the offerings at Main Street Yoga.
· Meditation. More and more researchers are studying and discovering the vast array of benefits of meditating. While you might think you’re too busy to meditate and don’t time to just sit there and do nothing, studies show that it is well worth your time if you took a few minutes a day to just BE. This month, Main Street Yoga is offering TWO meditation workshops.
· Low- Glycemic plant-based diet. Eating a nutrient-dense diet with plenty of greens and vegetables supplies your brain with fuel and energy to help boost your willpower. If you’re used to snacking throughout the day, you’re setting yourself up for blood sugar crashes that often result in a choice that you might regret later.
These four fundamental healthy habits are part of the ten foundational habits I teach in my life-changing course, Body Wisdom. Hacking your willpower is one of the many strategies I teach you to help you change your behaviors and make choices that are consistent with your highest goals and values. If you’re ready to stop sabotaging your health goals and start implementing the daily habits that allow you to feel great, have more energy, and start making better choices, contact me to schedule a free health strategy session.
The next round of Body Wisdom starts on April 10th. While that might seem like plenty of time, there’s a good bit of up-front work that needs to happen so that you can hit the ground running at orientation. So don’t delay, contact me now.