Willpower and the struggle to build healthy habits.

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tiny steps, healthy lifestyle, yoga

Tiny Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle that Sticks

Let’s face it. It’s hard to eat healthy. On top of that, to exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and throw in some meditation can be absolutely overwhelming. Many people start off with the best intentions, but then fall off the bandwagon after a few weeks or months (or even days.)

Focus on one project at a time. If you set more than one self-improvement goal, you may succeed for a while by drawing on reserves to power through, but that just leaves you more depleted and more prone to serious mistakes later.Dr. Roy Baumeister

Why does this happen? 64% of people believe that lack of willpower is their greatest barrier to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.¹

Decades of scientific research in psychology tells us otherwise.  We don’t fail because we lack willpower, but because we are trying to make too many changes at once.

Studies have found that using willpower to create new patterns of behavior actually burns glucose in the brain. Our reserves of willpower are limited. If we try to make too many changes at one time, we deplete our reserves, leaving us prone to swinging back in the opposite direction and into a cycle of failure and frustration.²

In contrast, by focusing our will power on one self improvement project at a time, we start to do better in other areas of our life without actively intending to.

Exercising self-control in one area seemed to improve all areas of life.Dr. Roy Baumeister

For example, in one study, students in a study-discipline program improved their study habits, but also began working out more and spending less. Students in the money management and fitness groups also improved their spending, fitness, and grades.  Self-control is contagious!²

Small wins build our sense of “self-efficacy”, which is our belief in our ability to succeed. The more confident we become that we can change, the easier it becomes to overcome the obstacles that inevitably arise.

The struggle to build healthy habits by exerting unsustainable amounts of willpower can be overcome by simply taking “Tiny Steps.”

A tiny step is a small, measurable, repeatable change or habit that you can add to your daily routine. It can be something as simple as taking a ten minute walk every morning, having a smoothie for breakfast 5 days a week, or eating from a smaller plate.

It has to be something that feels very easy and achievable. A Tiny Step is also something you actually want to do rather than something you feel you should do. 

Working on one small change allows you to focus your willpower, increasing your chance of success. Success breads a greater sense of self confidence, leading to a desire to make more changes. A new found sense of motivation and hope takes root.

After a short while, you won’t need to exert much willpower to do your tiny step because it has become a habit.  You’ve created new neural pathways in your brain and even new preferences. Your willpower is now free to work on the next step.

The Tiny Steps program uses a combination of this unique habit change methodology and 1:1 coaching. Tracking progress with the support of a coach keeps you accountable and helps you to work through mental blocks.  Break free from that awful cycle of failure and frustration and land into a routine of healthy living, healthy weight, and happiness that lasts.

If you would like to learn more about the Tiny Steps program, set up a free 30 minute consultation to find out if it is right for you.

1. 2013 Food & Health Survey, International Food Information Council Foundation.
2. Baumeister, Roy F.; John Tierney (2011-09-01). Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Nadaa TaiyabWillpower and the struggle to build healthy habits.