It’s a funny old thing… willpower… I hear the word being thrown around regularly due to the industry in which we are in.
Willpower for getting to training, willpower for sticking to certain eating habits, willpower, willpower, willpower…
We even have it said TO us… “I wish I had your willpower to train 3-5 times per week”…
There’s this huge emphasis on willpower that needs to stop.
Did you know that each and every year there is over £600 million paid in memberships to gyms and fitness facilities where people don’t turn up… £600 million!… for nothing but a name on a list so you can say you’re a member of the gym.
I’m putting this down to willpower, or ultimately the misdirection of it.
People seem to use willpower as their source of motivation.
This time… this time I am going to stick it out… this time I am going to give up x,y and z foods… this time!!!
The problem is for anyone when they start, and I see this a lot… they have willpower to cut out food groups and attend gym sessions every day of the week rather than finding motivation from other sources.
When we offer our programs out and it’s 3-4 sessions per week, they ask what they can do on the other 3-4 days of the week when they’re not in the facility and I can almost hear the gasp down the phoneline when I say they should rest or do some form of gentle exercise like walking, playing with the kids outside, whatever, just not go to the gym and pound away on the treadmill for an hour or more.
So… when they start they go balls to the wall with training, often doing far more than advised on their rest days (some even signing up to alternative programs to fill the gaps), and they cut out everything they’ve ever been told is bad for them, they go 100% clean eating, no alcohol, reduced kcals and generally I find, the carbs take a huge hit… So, if you’re doing 6-7 training sessions per week you can imagine the lack of real effort exerted, not for a want of trying, you’re giving everything you can, but it’s suboptimal because of the strain you are placing on your body so whilst you think you’re doing good, you’re actually not.
Therein lies the problem… When you are super restrictive, start cutting out food groups entirely, cut back on all the things you actually love to eat/drink, not only do you have very little energy to commit to your sessions (I can guarantee the effort put in throughout the sessions is almost half, if that)… but the willpower required for this in itself is likely to completely sabotage the willpower you require to go to the gym, to attend your 3-4 sessions per week… For most, it often stops them attending their sessions entirely…
That £600 million is made up mostly of January gym goers… this is the year… they jump onto Dry January, throw out all carbs, join a gym and by February they’re just another statistic… they’re just another £9.99, £14.99, £49.99 to add to the pile…
We need to stop motivation from willpower. Motivation to attend the gym should be a self- motivation from a desire to improve your health, fitness, aesthetics… The definition of willpower is the control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.
This is a negative form of motivation and I’d go so far as to say this is no motivation at all, it’s forcing yourself to do something you otherwise wouldn’t choose to do!!! Sure, there may be some impulses that you need the willpower to overcome, for example, opening a tub of ben and jerrys, you need only take a serving, there’s really no need to finish the tub, especially if your goals are to lose weight and be healthier.
This is why we always advise to find something you enjoy because then there is a motivation there, you want to do it because you enjoy it, you enjoy the feeling, you enjoy the camaraderie of your
Group activity, you enjoy the time to yourself with your headphones in working away, you enjoy the feeling of making progress in what you’re doing…
If you need “willpower” to simply turn up… it will more often than not result in failure.
Next time consider why you are joining a gym, class, whatever… ask yourself if it’s something you’re doing because you want to do it, or because it’s socially pushed upon you that you “should”… if it’s the latter, all your friends are doing it and say you should, your other half is poking fun at the extra weight you’ve been carrying, etc… I’d recommend you save your money!!!
When you’re ready, when it becomes more about YOU wanting to do it for yourself, when YOU feel motivated in a positive way and it’s not merely an action you’re forcing upon yourself… that’s when you will succeed, and there’ll be little or no willpower involved.