No one can force you to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits except yourself. Similarly, no one can keep you sitting on the couch and munching those unhealthy snacks, except yourself! It’s never easy, but you can develop self-discipline for adopting a healthy lifestyle, just as you get better at anything you grind at for long enough. If you keep slipping in and out of your healthy resolutions, here’s some great advice for developing self-discipline with healthy eating and exercise habits.
The Importance of Strong Willpower
Exercising willpower will push you on towards honing the self-discipline you need to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If temptations to sleep in and eat unhealthily seem too powerful to ignore, then you’re certainly not alone. Ask a cross-section of people, and a large proportion will tell you that their lack of willpower is the main thing keeping them from making positive changes in their lives, whether related to a healthier lifestyle or otherwise. While some people are more naturally inclined to strong willpower than others, willpower is a learned behavior. The more you can resist the urge to dig in to some unhealthy snack, or skip your jog around the block, the easier it will be to apply solid willpower in the future.
Setting Realistic Goals
Another important staple to developing self-discipline is being able to set both short and long-term goals that are realistically attainable. It’s all about finding a balance between challenges that throw you out of your comfort zone, and goals that are easy enough for you to accomplish without too much physical and mental strain. A Rocky-esque training montage seven days a week may not be realistically attainable, as all the responsibilities of work and family life can often get in the way. However, getting a decent amount of exercise in five days a week is certainly attainable for many people. Just bear in mind that all the shorter goals should be benchmarks, which ultimately lead up to more long-term ones. For example, if you’re planning to lose weight, go ahead and set an overarching six-month goal, but make sure you’re breaking it down into more manageable bites. For example, you could try to lose one pound every two weeks. When you hit all these smaller goals, you’ll feel great knowing that you’re on track, and help to keep yourself motivated, which is another big factor in keeping up your self-discipline.
Cut Yourself Some Slack!
In an ideal and stress-free world, setting a plan for eating and exercise and then sticking to it would be a breeze. Unfortunately, we’re not living in an ideal world yet! With this in mind, you need to look ahead and plan for bumps in the road, and make sure these little hiccups can’t bring your self-discipline crashing down! Taking some time out to relax your mind and body in healthy ways can help massively. Set a few minutes aside each day for reading, listening to music, or meditating. Most importantly, make sure you’re getting enough sleep! It’s also a good idea to come up with some go-to healthy snacks, and keep them within reach so you can have them whenever you get the craving for something less healthy, and also look forward to it as a reward for a session of high-intensity exercise. Yes, it’s important to avoid temptations for an easy release of “feel good” chemicals in your brain. However, if you’re spreading yourself too thin with no pleasurable rewards in sight, you’ll burn out your willpower in a flash!
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
In order to keep your self-discipline strong and dependable, try not to beat yourself up over times where you’ve given in to temptation. Everyone makes mistakes! If you had a decadent dessert for dinner the other night, or decided to sleep in another half hour rather than going for a jog, acknowledge the mistake, but forgive yourself, and don’t dwell on your slip-up too much. Instead, identify the thing that triggered your mistake, and take the lapse in your exercise regimen to re-examine your goals, both in the long and the short term. Then, adjust them slightly if you feel this is necessary to making them more attainable.
If you can feel your self-discipline slip through your fingers as you try to improve your health, take this advice on board, and see if it can’t help you towards your goals!