(CARLSBAD, CA) – Willpower. It’s that ability to deny yourself a slice of homemade apple pie or a new pair of Lucky jeans that you really don’t need. It’s also that drive that forces you to crawl out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to attend your workout class.
How is your willpower these days? According to experts at Northwestern University, most of us greatly overestimate our willpower. And when we mistakenly believe our willpower is ironclad, we don’t put measures in place to fight off temptation.
Research shows that our brains actually have a limit for self-regulation. In other words, each person has a limited amount of willpower. Exerting your willpower in one area, say finances, means that you’re more likely to backslide in another area, like diet control. Believe it or not, exerting self control in any particular circumstance actually decreases the amount of blood sugar in your brain, which then lowers your ability for additional self control in other areas.
How can you maximize your self control without depleting your limited resources? Try a few of these tips to beef up your willpower in all areas of life.
1. Pick Your Battles – If you plan to attend a party where the buffet table is destined to call your name, then avoid window-shopping that day. Using up all your willpower to walk away from the adorable bebe halter top means that you may not have any self control left when it’s time to say “no” to the chips and salsa.
2. Practice Makes Perfect – Increase your willpower with practice. Choose an area of your life where you want to enact more willpower and focus on that goal. Starting a fitness regimen is a perfect example. Princeton researchers report that people who stick with an exercise program for two months actually watch less television, do more housework, spend less money, and eat less junk food. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett suggests committing to a fitness program three to four days per week for the best fitness – and willpower - results.
3. Cut Yourself Some Slack – If you’re starting a new diet, give yourself permission to have a “mess-up day” here and there. At the beginning, you may have two slack days per week, but these will gradually decrease over time, along with your waistline!
4. Buddy Up – Your willpower will be stronger if you share your goal with a friend. When your alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m., you won’t be tempted to pull the covers over your head if you know that your workout buddy is waiting for you.
5. Stop and Think – Your amygdala is the impulsive part of your brain. It’s the driving force that causes you to whip out your credit card when you see the latest Coach handbag. However, if you stop for a moment and think about your actions, then your mental processing actually shifts to a different part of your brain – the frontal cortex – which is the part of your brain responsible for self control. So, the next time that you’re about to dive headfirst into your mom’s cinnamon rolls, stop for a moment. Take a breath, think about what you are doing and ask yourself if this is the choice you really want to make. You may find that you have more willpower than you realized.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,800 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.