It’s about more than having self-control

Discussion in 'Survival of the Fittest' started by Yard Dart, May 25, 2016.

  1. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Editor’s Note: This article written by Stephanie Lee was originally published on Greatist, a digital publication committed to happy and healthy lifestyle choices.

    When we opt for the elevator over the stairs, swear we’ll start eating healthier on Monday, or skip that morning workout, we tend to blame our lack of self-control and willpower.

    But what if this lack of self-control is just a cop out? After all, any time you engage in self-sabotaging behavior, it’s easy to convince yourself that it’s because you’re weak or lazy to allow yourself to continue doing what you’re doing.
    Related: The Easy, 30-Minute Routine That Can Improve Veterans’ Mental Health »

    But maybe the underlying reason why you “can’t” just pass the elevator, “can’t” say no to the cookie, or “can’t” get off the couch to go to the gym is that you haven’t recognized your priorities and what you truly value: your why. Without knowing your why, it’s much harder to align your actions — no matter how big or small — with what you want to work toward.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying self-control is dumb and unnecessary. We still need self-control to beat our impulsive nature into submission and help us toward what’s good for us instead of what just feels good in the moment (think: going to the gym instead of Netflix and chilling).

    Rather, I merely think blaming the problem on a lack of self-control is like putting the cart before the horse. That is: No amount of self-control is going to keep you from constantly turning down donuts or saying yes to yoga if you don’t know why you need self-control in the first place.

    Why do you need to restrain yourself from eating that cake? Because you know it’s “bad” just doesn’t cut it. Why should you get up off the couch and do something active? Because you want to “have a better body” isn’t much more illuminating either.

    Think of your why as a sort of GPS and your self-control as the car to help get you there.

    What you really want and value aren’t always immediately obvious. So to find your why, bust out a pen and paper — we’re going old school with this. The purpose of this writing exercise (borrowed from fitness coach JC Deen) is to help you dig up your deepest motivation for why you want to do something.

    Start by thinking about your current goal. Let’s say you want to lose weight. Write it down and then ask yourself, “Why?” Maybe it’s because you want fit into your jeans from college again. Okay. Why? Because you think it will make you look hot. Why? And out comes your real why: You want to feel confident in yourself.

    You could even do this exercise for smaller habit changes like “drink more water every day” or “go to bed earlier.” Once you’ve discovered your true why, write it down and keep it somewhere you can see (maybe you post it on your bathroom mirror, at your desk at work, or set it as the background on your phone). This way, when you’re sidetracked by temptations or start to wonder what the right choice is, it’ll serve as a powerful reminder.

    Once you’ve figured out your why, you can now go forth and use your powers for good! Develop better self-control by doing the following:

    1. Understand the “risks versus rewards.”
    2. The idea of risk versus reward is often used in finance, but it’s applicable in various areas of your life, including fitness and weight loss-related decisions.
    3. By weighing the risk of a decision against your goal, you are teaching yourself to take a step back rather than simply going with the “act now, think later” approach.
    4. Let’s say your goal is weight loss. For a coworker’s birthday, someone kindly brought a store-bought, vanilla-flavored cake. Here, the potential reward is your enjoyment of the cake. Enjoyment might be lukewarm since — let’s say — vanilla is not exactly your favorite. The risk of your decision to eat the cake might be regret, or worse, setting off the idea that you might as well eat junk the rest of the day. You weigh the risks and decide that the reward is not worth it and that you might as well save it for something else that’ll totally be worth the risk and make you say “F@#K yes!”
    5. Just do things now.
    6. When you say something like “I’ll start my diet on Monday,” or “I’ll work out more when things slow down at the office,” you’re offloading the responsibility of making decisions to change to the “future you.”
    7. You hope that “future you” will miraculously take up responsibility for making the better and healthier decisions. Except in reality, “future you” is equally as foolish and probably just as likely to make similar excuses. And on and on the cycle goes.
    8. So rather than just hoping for “future you” to be a hero, take action now. As Kelly McGonigal, psychology professor at Stanford University wrote in her book, The Willpower Instinct, “A short practice that you do every day is better than a long practice you keep putting off to tomorrow.” This way, “future you” actually does have a chance to continue making the choices that enrich your life. And really, the more you do it, the easier it’ll be to continue making the right choices.
    Once you truly know why you want something, it becomes easier to prioritize your goals, to develop skills like better willpower and self-control, and to keep your values front-of-mind in everything you do.

    “We need to separate the real rewards that give our lives meaning from the false rewards that keep us distracted and addicted. Learning to make this distinction may be the best we can do,” writes McGonigal. In other words, you do things because you want to, not because you feel like you should. Plus, if your priorities, values, and actions all align, then you’re less likely to feel stressed, guilty, or overwhelmed (all of which could contribute to a greater loss of self-control).

    So if you have a goal to reach — whether it’s to get fit, lose weight, or simply be more active — you can attempt (and likely fail) to bulldoze your way through it with willpower and self-control. But if you don’t know what you value or your priorities, throwing your hands up and walking away will be all too easy.
    Here’s The Real Reason You Can’t Meet Your Goals
  2. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    Bullcrap, Walk 5 miles a day
    Eat what you want and pass on the psychological crap
    Live,Love, Walk
    Tully Mars, techsar, Ganado and 3 others like this.
  3. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Gator has spoken..... [chopper]
    Gator 45/70 and Tully Mars like this.
  4. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    LOL!!! @Yard Dart why didn't you just title this: A message to Moto.
    I have no self-control when it comes to cake unless it is chocolate. Since most people serve chocolate at functions, people admire me for passing up dessert.

    There is no "future you" you are what you are period. If people do not know themselves well enough to know that they are lying to themselves then they should take a long walk and get their head right.
  5. Salted Weapon

    Salted Weapon Monkey+++

    So I am eating chips, drinking three shots of 100 proof grandad with coke.
    I wonder if I should wait to comment, seriously I do these things and also eat well I walk
    often, work hard and get exercise. A wise woman once said moderation is key to balancing what life throws at us.
    I am watching my father in law die slowly from smoking its now been 4 years, he got cancer , beat it, had half his face removed
    due to cancer and survived he is now looking a few years later at triple by pass and he is in poor health he may not live past this summer :-(

    I have smoked no more then 10 packs in my life time, I am not comparing myself I am stating moderation. Now I like a nice strong drink and a good stokey once and awhile even more of awhile for anything I smoke with in 5-6 so years, is rare but seriously because of moderation at age 53 I can eat chips, and drink 3 shots of 100proor with coke and do just fine. My liver wont fail, wont become diabetic. I bought a couple three musketeers I have yet to eat. I used to drive fast real fast like 140mph+ fast.I own a gun I shoot often but I use all known safety precautions. The point I am guessing as I was told by a wise woman 30 years ago is moderation. Its not about not enjoying life, its about enjoying life and not abusing what you have and that means relationships, health, money etc. Moderation in my opinion allows one to indulge without ending ones life. Well what do I know.....but thats my two cents.

    Oh in November 2016 do not be moderate or progressive I hear that may be a death sentence to survival.
    GOG, Motomom34 and Yard Dart like this.
  6. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Lot to be said for walking out side and in the rough .makes one more circumspect and thoughtful .
    Sitting in a house and not getting fresh air, one's body will atrophy, also not challenging ones mind, it will atrophy as well more introverted and self involved .
    Being retired I'm trying to avoid that.
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  7. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    you are correct @arleigh I recall one point in my life I was walking hallways. I was doing a couple miles a day no problem. I thought I was in good shape but then when I started walking in the yard I noticed that it was a stain. Walking off the beaten path is better exercise.
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  8. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Oft times I ride my motorcycle to town and wear my back pack /computer bag (I am never without it) usually 30 lbs or so and go walking the malls an hour or so, and it's ok, there are stairs and lots of paved areas to move around, but it' nothing like the 5 mile circuit I have at my place.
    About half is dirt road and some good climbs as well .
    Besides the neighbors dogs there are other critters along the way too ,coyotes, rattlers, and tarantulas, and such,
    It usually takes an hour ,unless there is some entertainment along the way.
    This is wine country so every winery you pass especially today has a band going and if the music is good I hang about for a bit.
    I don't drink.
    I've been expanding my skills with bush craft finding wood I an use to bow drill and experiment a bit . it's fun.
    So while I walk, I'm looking for materials.
    You never know what you'll find in the big beautiful wonderful world.
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