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Why do I lose Willpower?

Why do the first two weeks of a workout program start so well but then your motivation begins to deteriorate?

Where does the willpower go??

Let's think of willpower like any muscle on your body. Some people are born with more muscle tissue than others. Some people are able to grow their muscle tissue more easily than others. This same principle applies to willpower. You could be born with more or less willpower than your workout partner. You can also grow your willpower by training and strengthening it.

Willpower is even more akin to muscle tissue in the sense that it can fatigued. For example, your body can only do a certain amount of heavy weighted squats. At some point, your muscles will be unable to fire and your legs will give out. You can only challenge your willpower so many times in a day or a week before it gives out as well.

To take this idea of willpower fatigue further, let's look at an average day:

  • Your alarm goes off and it's time to wake up. It takes willpower to get out of bed.

  • You really want an easy bowl of cereal for breakfast but you push yourself to make a high protein omelette. This choice took a piece of your willpower.

  • It's been a stressful day at work. Someone is really triggering you and it's taking a good amount of willpower to not snap on this person.

  • A coworker invites you out to lunch. You want to enjoy a meal away from work but know that you have a lot to get done. Turning down the social option to catch up on work tests your willpower.

  • The end of the day is coming and a sugary drink plus chips sounds like exactly what you need. But instead, you eat the carrots and hummus that you had packed. This is another time that you've had to use your willpower.

  • Your work day is done and you're getting in the car. Skipping your workout, going home and enjoying a glass of wine is calling your name. At this point, your willpower might be too fatigued and you choose to go home instead of heading to the gym.

In all of these instances, willpower was utilized to overcome a potentially bad choice. At the end of the day, all the available willpower had been used so there was nothing left to push you to the gym and you skipped the workout.

It is completely normal to run out of willpower. And it's normal for someone to have more willpower than you. Instead of comparing your willpower or muscle strength to someone else, understand that you can make yours stronger.

Using the example above, every time that willpower was tested, it was also trained. Don't be afraid to completely fatigue your willpower, this will help it grow and become stronger. The next time that you get through a day like the example and want to head home, think about pushing that willpower. Maybe tone down your workout from a 70 minute lifting session to a 20 minute HIIT set on the stairclimber. A little bit of exercise is better than no exercise. Challenge your willpower to do just a little bit more.

Before getting upset with yourself for skipping a workout or making a bad food choice, accept that your willpower may have been overly fatigued in that day. Then, ask yourself if there are opportunities to push your willpower a little further. Remember, that while you are born with a certain amount of willpower, you can still strengthen it and make it do more.

I hope that you are able to understand your willpower more, forgive yourself for any times that you make wrong choices and can keep challenging your motivation.

Never give up!

Thanks for reading



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