Work On Your Willpower in 5 Easy Steps



When the first 21-day lockdown was enforced, many of us had great aspirations of starting our journey to health and wellness. We committed to eating well, drinking water, supplementing where necessary and even attempting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

And, whilst some succeeded, the majority have failed. Why? Accordingly, to Catherine Clark, Owner and Founder of The Harvest Table, it’s not because you lacked the desire, it’s simply because your willpower waned.

“That initial resolve that you had, slipped, and your supply of motivation to do the ‘right’ thing, as well as the willpower to resist home-made pizza’s and desserts simply disappeared.”

She adds that studies1 show that willpower can be limited, so if you’re subjected to circumstances that require consistent effort, you’ll find it harder to stick to your guns. “There is no doubt that lockdown has definitely brought about situations that demand persistence and endurance – from juggling work, schooling, housework and everything in between; trying to still stick to a healthy eating plan or fitting in a regular exercise regime is bound to be tough.”

So, what do you do? Should you give up your efforts for now and wait for post-lockdown? Catherine says not. She believes that with a few small tweaks, you can get your willpower back on track and can finally reach those health and wellness goals.

  1. Outwit temptation

The more temptation you face, the more willpower is needed to avoid it. So, identify your weaknesses – be it sugary treats, savoury pastries or perhaps even Netflix – and remove those temptations completely. This may mean that you avoid the sweet aisle while shopping or cancelling your Netflix account for now so that you can focus on using the time to engage in exercise.

  1. Eat (healthy) food that you actually enjoy

If you are struggling to stomach the ‘healthy’ food that you have prepared, change up the recipe! Exerting all your willpower to eat food that doesn’t taste great, is a sure-fire way to find yourself back at Square One. If you don’t enjoy salad, don’t force yourself to eat it. The internet is filled with millions of delectable, healthy recipes – use them! Plus, if you are eating the food you genuinely enjoy, you will no longer require the usual willpower required to force yourself to eat healthily.

  1. Eat regularly

Studies show that the brain is far less able to resist temptation when blood glucose levels drop. Simply, this means that in order to ensure sustaining willpower, you cannot skip meals. Instead, you should be eating, small balanced meals at least three times a day. By not skipping meals, you are also less likely to overeat at one sitting. If you struggle to eat breakfast, consider making a smoothie (see recipe) instead.

  1. Get a good night’s rest

A recent survey conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) in the UK found that almost two-thirds (64%) of the respondents said they were sleeping less due to lockdown worries – something that many South Africans can also relate to! The problem is that sleeping better boosts self-control and willpower.  So what do you do? Start by going to bed earlier, be smart about napping and avoid caffeine after 12 pm if possible.  

  1. Don’t give up

Failure isn’t final. Every moment of every day presents a new opportunity to get back on the horse and try again. There are countless examples of individuals who failed but persevered until they succeeded – from Michael Jordan, Walt Disney to Oprah Winfrey and even our own Tata Madiba.

Don’t stop asserting your willpower until you achieve your dream.