The Northern Star - - WEEKEND -

Even though we know what the best choices and ac­tions are that lead to a health­ier life­style, quite of­ten when it comes to the crunch, our willpower lets us down. Be­fore you know it there goes an­other day, an­other 3pm choco­late bar with an­other op­por­tu­nity to make a change. Damn it.

So, what’s up with that and why do we so eas­ily re­peat some­thing when we know it’s not the best op­tion … and how do we go about fix­ing it?

There have been many stud­ies pub­lished lately that prove this crazy phe­nom­e­non and it’s called de­ci­sion fa­tigue (yes, there is a sci­ence be­hind it).

What this means is that from the mo­ment we wake we’re bom­barded with de­ci­sions that de­mand our at­ten­tion. Shall I put petrol in the car now or later? What’s for din­ner tonight? Which shirt shall I wear? Ul­ti­mately, the hun­dreds of small de­ci­sions we make leave us with a use­less willpower mus­cle come the af­ter­noon.

This is why we choose un­healthy habits or the most con­ve­nient op­tion (like reach­ing for the ugg boots in­stead of lac­ing up your jog­gers).

It’s com­mon to feel this way af­ter a busy day, even though you might not have done any­thing phys­i­cal. The good news is that you can de­vise plans of at­tack to help over­come this lack of Is it ex­er­cise? Eat­ing a healthy break­fast? Plan­ning and mak­ing your meals for the day? Work­ing on a new busi­ness ven­ture? Make a list and get the more im­por­tant things done first while your morale and en­thu­si­asm is high. I know I find it hard to knock out a hard ses­sion in the even­ing af­ter pre­sen­ta­tions, see­ing clients and run­ning around af­ter the fam­ily. Rarely will you re­gret wak­ing up 30 min­utes ear­lier.

Be­fore you close your eyes, run through in your mind what the next day brings. What do you want to do? What’s on for the fam­ily? Set your work­out clothes next to your bed so it’s one less de­ci­sion in the morn­ing. Have the even­ing meal in mind from the meal plan you made at the start of the week with the in­gre­di­ents al­ready in the fridge.

Arm your­self with know­ing that your willpower has a fa­tigue rate by sav­ing it for the im­por­tant stuff. Don’t waste your en­ergy on things out of your con­trol or that can wait un­til later. A fiveminute power med­i­ta­tion is a great way to top up willpower lev­els if they feel low dur­ing the day.

It is hard to make any good de­ci­sion if your mind isn’t clear and a clear mind comes from a healthy body (and happy tummy). Take healthy snacks to work or carry them in your hand­bag to coun­ter­act the times you are feel­ing de­pleted and need to de­cide on some­thing that maybe re­quires you to think beyond your de­ci­sion thresh­old. If you charge your­self up on cof­fee or sugar and rely on this to get you through the day then you’re prob­a­bly fac­ing burnout.

It’s eas­ier just to do things than think about them too much. More of­ten than not, we spend so much time de­bat­ing whether we should do some­thing we know we should be do­ing when in the end it could have al­ready been done. Spend­ing more than five min­utes de­cid­ing if it will be beef or chicken for din­ner or to go for a jog or surf (or do noth­ing) is just guz­zling away your willpower tank. An­other rea­son why plan­ning is im­por­tant. No more than two min­utes on a de­ci­sion, peo­ple!

Willpower in re­gards to your diet and well­be­ing.


Cham­pion iron­woman and ocean ath­lete Karla Gil­bert is an ac­cred­ited Nu­tri­tion and Health Coach and cer­ti­fied Level III and IV Fit­ness Trainer, with cer­tifi­cates in Child Nu­tri­tion and Nu­tri­tion.

READ MORE AT kar­lag­ilbert.com.au

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