Work Your Willpower Muscle

We are all about to embark on a big mission: Mission Slim Possible that is! In preparation for bikini and board short season, we have all set some pretty big goals for the upcoming six-week transformation contest. Unfortunately, grandiose goals make us feel excited and motivated in the moment, but set us up for failure if we do not approach them the correct way.

The decision to improve yourself is a powerful first step in the direction of achieving your goal(s), but the challenge of actually making a change is where we usually take the wrong approach. Most of us have experienced the setback-disappointment-frustration cycle that leads us to abandoning our goals and efforts altogether. This cycle usually occurs when we try to rely solely on sheer willpower. Our willpower is constantly being put to the test. Everyone at the table is ordering dessert. You feel swamped at work and don’t know how you are going to make time to work out. You have one more mile to go but your legs are so dang tired. Your willpower “muscle” gets fatigued from all that decision-making and temptation resisting. In the book Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength, author John Tierney advises us to be realistic when setting goals by practicing our self-control, monitoring progress toward our goals, keeping faith when we falter, and relying on our support system rather than working our decision-fatigued willpower to death.

Here are some smart ways to approach our transformation goals and take some of the strain off of our willpower muscle.

1.     Find fit friends for support: Watch for symptoms of willpower depletion and then turn to your support system for much needed encouragement. Friends that know what you are trying to achieve are a great tool (especially when their goals align with yours). So grab a Bionic buddy, push each other to be better, hold each other accountable, and keep each other motivated.

2.      Plan Plan Plan: Be prepared for any situation that will challenge your willpower by coming up with a plan that keeps you on track even in tough situations. For instance, take a peek at the menu online before even going to the restaurant so you can review your healthy options well before you are tempted by what everyone else is ordering.

3.     Replace bad habits with good habits: Bionic trainer Dara Mazzie implements good habits even when she cheats, “I try as hard as I can to either cheat with alcohol OR food, not both. So if I am out to dinner and I want wine, I order fish and steamed veggies. If I want french fries (weakness of mine) I don't drink.”

4.     Monitor how you feel: Get in tune with your emotions. When you are stressed or tired, your willpower will not be at peak performance. Becoming aware of when your self-control is exhausted will allow you to refocus, stay in control, and keep your eyes on the prize.

5.     Cut back on the alcohol: Besides the fact that alcohol is not contributing to your summer body goals, it also diminishes your self-control. In other words, you will probably say yes to the chocolate if you are a little tipsy.


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