Good health and fitness books or training and diet programs work because they provide information that has been proven to achieve particular results, whether it's building muscle, becoming more athletic, burning fat or simply boosting overall health.
Whether a training or diet program works, is not why so many people keep finding themselves back at "Day 1". The nutrition and training guidance/ programs we offer at SWEAT, FITNESS work. But certain programs are more effective for certain individuals because they are able to crack the code and learn how to change their behaviour aka lifestyle.
Let's dig in a little deeper into why some people are fit and other struggle to fit into their fave pair of jeans. Beyond the calories in versus calories out equation, or finding the perfect number of sets and reps to do, the real breakdowns in body transformation don't occur in your muscles or fat cells - they happen in your head.
Truth is, your success in anything you do, is determined by your ability to adhere to a number of behavioural changes. Unless you inherently love exercise and eating good wholesome foods, shifting to new habits takes a lot of mental energy. And if you don't use the right approach, your brain can literally prevent you from making the changes you desperately want.
So, instead of getting down on yourself. Arm yourself with some basic knowledge that will make sure your mind is strong enough to carry your body to its new best self.
Willpower: Don't Rely on It
Listen close, first rule of willpower is doing everything possible not to solely rely on it. Now, don't get us wrong, willpower is a real thing and it could be the reason why many of us head to the gym and eat clean instead of lay on the sofa and eat ice cream all day, but it is also the reason so many people have trouble adapting to healthy behaviours that feel foreign.
This is why it's important when taking on a new plan to be aware of the ways your will power might make it difficult for your to achieve success. Instead of thinking, "I must avoid all of the candy in my pantry," the thinking could rather be - you must throw out all the food you know you have trouble avoiding and replace it with the healthy stuff you want to eat.
Willpower can be faulty, so build on systems that will guide your behaviour and ensure that when willpower fails, it is not the only option to get you moving.
The thing we find the most interesting about willpower is that we legit have limited amounts of it available. The area of your brain that controls your willpower is located in your prefrontal cortex. You might remember hearing 'prefrontal cortex' in biology class or a few nights ago on Grey's Anatomy, it is the area directly behind your forehead.
Your PFC helps you with all your day-to-day tasks, everything from short term memory (What did my boss just tell me to do?), figuring out simple tasks and even staying focused in a meeting or while driving.
This part of our brain is busy all the time. So whenever you take on a new behaviour - especially one as big as getting in shape or eating better - it's like having a massive project dropped on your lap and being told everyone else in the office is too busy to help. You get?
The result? Desired actions - if new - can be very very hard to execute and maintain. In fact it can be more than your brain can handle, meaning you default to old or undesirable behaviours. Researchers refer to this as 'cognitive load'. The more space you take up in your PFC, the harder it is to make certain decisions.
If you are trying to change 10 behaviours at the same time, it is nearly impossible to succeed. Your brain just won't have it. As a result you are more likely to find yourself eating that cake in December and not because you are celebrating your new body.
Our advice? Think small but still dream BIG, you can do this by breaking your goals up into smaller milestones. Train yourself and prepare accordingly so that you have enough willpower at hand to take on new tasks, and continue building on healthy habits that will get you through the days when willpower is on the low.