The Great WillPower Hoax

“Where there’s a Will there’s a Way.”

Another article reload, this one was originally written about 3 years ago for an old blog during an insomnia fuelled  writing session which resulted in three posts, each of which got increasingly more incoherent than the previous, luckily this one was written while I was still hopefully making sense and so I gave it a little freshen up and have reposted it for you all to enjoy.

When it comes to getting in shape everybody is always banging on about willpower, something I hear a lot is “but I just don’t have your willpower.” As soon as I hear that I’m instantly driven to explain in detail that “NO, Neither do I.” you see that’s all a big con, willpower is a very finite resource it’s kinda like a muscle which can become fatigued and then stop performing optimally, and most of us do not have anywhere near enough of it to rely on when things get difficult.

Willpower, you see, is reserved for the important tasks like stopping us from killing our fellow commuters on busy trains or having a hissy fit when there’s a queue in Starbucks and such (I used to do the latter regularly), I remember reading that Albert Einstein avoided “decision fatigue” by wearing  identical clothes daily, the same underwear, shoes and ties each day to take away any possible choices, the thought behind it being that by taking away some decisions (thus not exercising his willpower muscles) would allow him to have more of this resource available to make better decisions later on, you know like coming up with his theory of relativity and all that jazz, now whether its true or not that he did this I don’t know but I like the way it sounds.

So if willpower is not the factor then why do some people find it easier than others to achieve? Success leaves clues folks and all you really need to do is look for the patterns, what you will come to realise is that success in body composition improvement or any game for that matter is all about habits, build the right habits get your just desserts and be able to maintain or continue to improve, stick with relying on willpower alone and you’ll be back where you started in no time at all (or more likely worse off).

So how do you go about doing this? The answer is not going to be popular because these days everyone is all about quick fixes and magic bullets, but if you do it my way you will not only get long lasting and consistent results, but on top of that people looking on from the outside will believe you are using one of the above mentioned magic bullets because, while you will change habits slowly, the resulting physiological responses can still happen noticeably quickly. There are rules to this game so grab a coffee and get ready to have your world rocked.

Rule 1. Unless you have someone coaching you through the process you should only make 1-2 changes at a time, this one is absolutely set in stone, If I were for instance to ask you to completely change your entire dietary regime on day 1 without helping you to adjust to the new process guess what happens, yup despite all of your protestations that you can handle anything you will become completely overwhelmed within about 3 days and I’ll get a panicky phone call from you screeching about the fact that you don’t know what to eat!!!!! Change one thing and it’s easy change 10 and you are now juggling with altogether too many balls.

Rule 2. You have to consistently demonstrate mastery of a change before a new one can be introduced, this can be quite a quick process with some but for others may take weeks or even months, once we’ve learned a habit it’s very difficult to break, if you are not in the habit of preparing your meals in advance then you’ll be more likely to default to the path of least resistance when making food choices, remember willpower will only carry you so far, usually to the supermarket where you’ll be making food choices whilst already hungry, this might be ok for a day or two but eventually you are going to crack and where that willpower was you’ll instead find an overwhelming desire to eat the entire bakery section………..Almond Croissants anyone?

Rule 3. You can always take a step back, if you have moved too quickly you can always regress to the previous step and dial it back until you have regained your consistency before progressing once again, No Blame No Shame, no one should be telling you off for being naughty, everyone loses the path now and then and if you have access to a coach/trainer, a lot of the time it can be an opportunity for them to show you why it happened, which in theory should help you prevent it in the future.

Rule 4. Have a plan, don’t just start changing things willy nilly it’s a hell of a lot easier if you have a process to follow, you wouldn’t try to walk before crawling and you most certainly wouldn’t try to fly a rocket ship before learning to drive a car and that analogy applies just as well to nutrition and training, going all out with a sexy Macro Split or trying Carb Cycling on day one of trying to get in shape is not really necessary, most of the time just improving your food choices is enough to elicit change and this has the added benefit of allowing you to still have the option of using more of the sexy stuff later on when the basics have slowed down or stopped working.

So those are a few of my own personal rules for change folks, they are not all encompassing or limiting as everyone is different but they are pretty reliable when it comes to getting anything achieved. If you have any questions or want to discuss drop me a line.

 

 

JP

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