Longer Reads

You have enough willpower


Hi and happy Feel-Good Monday!

This is where we share our favorite tips, tricks, secrets, and ways to "think like a healthy person" so that you can find your own delicious path to healthy living.

"Feel-Good Mondays" are meant to help us get back into that place of feeling energized, nourished, and ready to take inspired action for the week ahead.  

Let’s talk willpower. Love it or hate it, “willpower” is a word that usually brings up strong emotions – one way or the other.

For those of us who feel we struggle with willpower, it’s usually because we feel we’ve broken promises to ourselves.

We start off with the best intentions, telling ourselves something like, "I won't eat any cookies tomorrow!" And then you find yourself eating cookies the next day, and you feel terrible…Maybe you feel overwhelmed and disgusted with yourself, thinking, "I can never do what I say I will."

Trust me. We have all been there.

I’ve been teaching an 8-week nutrition course at Bar Method, and this was the topic for one of our in-person workshops a couple of weeks ago.

There were eye rolls and giggles when the class participants were talking about how much willpower they did (or didn’t) have. “Willpower? What’s that?!” joked one of the members of the class. Most participants nodded knowingly.

That strong reaction is precisely what drew me to teach on this topic, because despite what you may think to the contrary, you actually DO have willpower – and you DO have enough of it! It’s simply about learning how to cultivate it, harvest it, and use it in a way that feels comfortable and enjoyable.

Here are some really phenomenal tips and strategies inspired by the work of Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of the Willpower Instinct and instructor of psychology at Stanford University, and the awesome folks at Yoga Journal.

Step 1: Know What You Want

We talk about this a lot in our client programs. To be successful at making changes, you need to identify and prioritize what is truly vital to achieving your happiness. McGonigal recommends asking yourself the following questions to help clarify your intentions for change:
  • If anything at all were possible, what would you most like to welcome into your life?

  • When you are the best possible version of yourself, who are you? What does this version of you want to put your energy toward?

  • When you are feeling courageous or inspired, what do you want to offer to the world? What's preventing you from doing that now?

  • What are you ready to let go of or make peace with? How are you holding on to it or resisting it right now?

If you want to lose weight, for example, is it really about squeezing into those tight jeans? Is it about making your husband happy or showing off at the beach?

Instead, can you approach it as an opportunity to create a body that best enables you to experience life with vitality and ease and strength? See if you can make it an act of love toward yourself to help yourself create powerful motivation.

Step 2: Start Small

Identify one step toward your goal that you can take in the moment (buy ingredients for a healthier breakfast for tomorrow, keep a food journal, increase your veggies for 2 weeks) and make it your starting point.

Don't rush past it or through it. Don't put your focus on the big picture. Don't even plot out step two. Rather—keeping your goal in mind—connect with your intuition to navigate change from here.

Step 3: Recognize Challenges

Know that usually, whenever you move toward change, you will encounter resistance. It’s comforting to know this ahead of time!

The primal brain (which wants what's easiest and most pleasurable in the present moment) and prefrontal cortex (which keeps in mind the big picture and future outcomes) can also battle each other.

Some part of you will always be grasping for immediate gratification ("I want that muffin!") or avoiding any associated unpleasantness ("I hate exercise!").

These feelings are a natural part of the process, and every time you encounter such inner conflicts, you have a chance to assert what you really want ("I want to be my happiest self in a healthy body").

The human brain is fully capable of comprehending its fundamental desires and ruling in favor of what's best for you in the long run—if you give it a chance. That doesn't mean these strengths will develop overnight.

Accept that there will be set-backs on the path to any goal, be kind to yourself during the process. This type of gentle nurturing—which is the opposite of trying to muscle your way into change—is an important component when building willpower.

Step 4: Seal in Success

If you've tried to change in the past and failed, you know that real transformation can take place only in a supportive environment. Reach out to friends and family to let them know what you're trying to do and ask for their support.

Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and seek out those who model the kind of life that you are trying to create for yourself.

"Gravitate toward people who already have what you want and be willing to have people gravitate toward you. You don't have to be the sole source of strength and support anymore," McGonigal says.

By being part of a community of people who are happy for your successes and whose successes you can be happy for, you'll find you’ll reach your goals that much easier.

What do you want? Once you have a clear idea of what you really want, give some thought to the whys of this kind of personal change, not just the what’s and how’s.

If you’d like support in learning how to harness your willpower, if you’d like to be part of a supportive community that’s got your back, and if you crave the accountability and customized expertise that we provide our clients (for rockstar results), reach out to us.

You don’t have to go it alone. We’re here for you.


 and the Moss Wellness Team


P.S.: What does the word “willpower” bring up for you? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page. We love to hear from you!