DISCOVER YOUR ZEN
The Inverse Relationship Between Habits and Willpower
It’s hard to keep up willpower for any length of time. Yes, we can stick to a low-fat, 1000 calorie diet and go hungry for a week or two, but eventually our willpower fades. And yes, we can do exercise that we hate for a while… until we run out of willpower.
But what about getting up to take the kids to school every morning, brushing our teeth, or going to work every day? Those may not be our favorite things to do either, but we do them daily without the risk of running out of willpower. That’s because they have become habits. They are so ingrained in what we do and who we are that we do them without even considering skipping a day or a week. We don’t have to make a conscious decision each day to shower or drive to work. It’s just what we do – a habit.
When you start to think about it, there is an inverse relationship between habits and willpower. When you first want to build a new habit, it takes a lot of willpower to get it done day in and day out. As you start to establish that habit, it becomes easier and easier to do until you don’t even have to think about it anymore.
Just being aware of this process helps us stick it out. We know we don’t always have to make such a big effort to go work out or skip the doughnut for breakfast. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We know eventually it will become habit to go out for a run first thing in the morning and grab some fruit or fix some eggs for breakfast.
While we’re in that transition from willpower to habit, we can use tools to make it easier. Typical tips and tools include:
- Use a to-do list or set a reminder to help stay on track.
- Find an accountability partner so the two of you can motivate each other and help bolster that willpower when it starts to fade after the first enthusiasm wears off.
- Even something as simple as laying out your running clothes the night before and keeping your sneakers by the door will make it a little easier to go out for that run.
However, as I explained in yesterday’s module, developing a “habit chain” is probably one of the most effective ways of creating a habit without having to rely so much on willpower. Just add one small step at a time, celebrating as you successfully complete the end of that particular “habit chain.” Before you know it, you’ll be exercising out of habit, without having to think about it at all.
So create your “habit chain.” Do what you can to help your willpower along until you have made the new behavior a true habit. After that, it will be easy and automatic and you will have created a new lifelong habit.
TODAY’S ACTION STEPS:
1) You should be exercising according to your planned routine. (You can use the exercise program I provided, if it works for you.) If you’re not ready to go FULL OUT with the exercise plan yet…that’s OK. If you’ve been trying out my suggestion of creating a habit, then you may want to add on another step if you haven’t done so yet. Read through yesterday’s module if you’re not sure how to create this “habit chain.”
So…every time you wake up, or finish washing your dishes after dinner, or whatever that regular activity is that you choose as the one to trigger your workouts…put on your workout shoes. (That’s the first link in the chain.)
Then do the next step you’ve been practicing. If your chosen workout is taking a walk after dinner each night, maybe you are heading to the front door and grabbing a jacket. If you want to do a home workout from the exercise plan I’m giving you, then maybe you’re putting on some workout clothes – a top and a bottom. (That’s the second link in the chain.)
NOW, do the next step. (That’s the third link in the chain.) If you plan to go for a walk, just step outside your front door and stand on your porch…and celebrate! If you’ll be doing a home workout, then grab your mobile phone (to access the Fitness App) and stand in your home exercise area…then celebrate! Whatever that next step is just do that. Every day. Every time you put on your workout shoes…AFTER every time you do that trigger activity (washing dishes, waking up in the morning, etc). Remember to celebrate every time you get to the end of this “habit chain.”
If you need a little more time to reinforce those first 2 links in the “habit chain” (e.g. putting on your workout shoes, then putting on some workout clothes), that’s fine. Just keep doing that and don’t worry about adding on right now.
2) Remember that you are repeating last week’s meal plan this week.
3) If you have any questions about anything…let me know in the Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/TeamDrVenus
Previous ACTION STEPS:
(Not a complete list, but some important highlights.)
1) Log in to the Fitness App on your COMPUTER – https://doctorvenus.com/app-login/ – and go to the FORMS tab. If you haven’t completed the Client Agreement form and the PAR-Q form from Day 1’s ACTION STEPS, do that today and sign them. Be sure to click SAVE when you’re done. (You can not receive the meal plan and workout plan when they are released until we have those completed forms on file.)
2) If you haven’t done so yet, send an email to team@DoctorVenus.com and state whether you want a vegetarian or non-vegetarian meal plan.
3) If you haven’t done so yet, send an email to team@DoctorVenus.com and let me know whether you want an exercise plan for weight loss (focused on burning calories) or for building/maintaining your mass. So you just need to indicate whether you want a BURN or BUILD program.
4) Download the Set Your Goals Checklist and complete it. CLICK HERE to download.
5) Download the Program Planner that you can start using, if you wish. CLICK HERE to download.
6) Download the Kitchen Clean Out handout and use it to guide the clean out of your kitchen BEFORE you start your meal plan. CLICK HERE to download.