Updated: Feb 3
Maintaining an ongoing routine is difficult. Strength of will is easier for me when it is a one-shot thing i.e. needing to push to the front of the queue – something I will summon the strength of will to do. However, maintaining ongoing willpower is much harder. I’d like to think it’s just something some people are better at than others, and granted there are those who will adapt more easily, but I think, as with all things, it’s just practice that is needed. Maintaining ongoing willpower is basically realising that you have to consistently choose one thing over another, over a period of time. Now, periods of time usually have fluctuations of mood, place, weather, and people amongst other variables. Maintaining a consistent choice when you’re not in the right mood, or surrounded by strangers instead of supportive friends is going to be hard. Some things you can plan for, other things you can’t.
In English we have the expression “building stamina.” Normally it’s applied to a physical exercise but I like to use it as a mental one also. It’s an appropriate phrase because stamina is a little bit like a brick wall. If each brick is one instance of you saying no to chocolate cake, to that glass of wine, to that packet of crisps, to your second helping – then all of a sudden you’ve laid the foundation layer of your wall. It becomes easier to say no to the pizza, to the apple crumble, to the curry. You can begin to see the changes it makes. Interestingly you can’t see the foundations of the wall being built because it’s underground – however it is arguably the most important part because without it the wall will just tumble over in a gust of wind. From a dieter’s point of view it’s only when you start seeing results that you think all your hard work in denying yourself, denying your cravings, ignoring the emotional cries for appeasement by food was worth it. Changing those habits to form better lifelong lifestyle choices is hardest in the beginning. It does become easier over time, because the more you practice the better you become.
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So what’s with this rather overstretched metaphor? Well, returning to a point I’ve made in a previous blog, unlike the drug addict or the alcoholic whereby It’s possible to completely live without your drugs or drink, the dieter cannot live without food. You’re faced with the choices everyday of what to eat. And you’re having to choose NOT to eat certain things. It’s a mental struggle, and an emotional one and usually for the first few weeks there is no visible signs of any progress for all of your efforts. So I guess for me personally being able to visualise that brick wall being built every time I say no it’s actually helping me feel like I’m doing something. Hell, I’d even draw that damn wall out and colour in each brick every time I needed to, just to physically achieve something, to be able to see it.