As we leave January behind many of us may also be leaving behind some of our 2018 hopes and aspirations. The new year started with much enthusiasm and determination but willpower is now dwindling, if still there at all. The weather, illness, injury and, especially for us parents setting new challenges can be particularly hard because the monkeys appear to always sense the change. They then subconsciously set about undermining our willpower with their Monkey ways. I’m not giving in this time though. Here’s five examples, what you can do to get over them and reclaim your willpower.
1) The monkeys will stop you sleeping
You know the score. You made a plan, you set off determined then someone stops sleeping. Wether it is a teething toddler, a sleep walking five year old, a snoring partner or, in my case, all three, a lack of sleep will undermine the most determined of us. Your body needs sleep to repair and recuperate and so a sudden increase in activity will make you more tired. Knowing this is important. It is your job now to keep reminding your brain of the fact. There isn’t a higher being out to get you. This happens to all of us. Focus on healthy food, plenty of water and rest when you can. Don’t beat yourself up sleep deprivation is a well known form of torture for a reason.
2) The monkeys will make you ill
January is the worst time for this. A mixed bag of weather and temperatures coupled with the hotbed of germs that is school or nursery will produce a veritable feast of horrible virus’ for the monkeys to share with you. Good hand hygiene aside, you will be guaranteed to be sneezed on, have your face coughed in and your clothes used as tissues. Do your best to beat it but coupled with a lack of sleep you will fall foul eventually. This is why your goals are SMART and flexible. Be kind to yourself. Take time to get better, alter your goals to accommodate a small break in training. Fighting it only makes it worse and unless you have caught something truly horrible, it will only be short lived. If it isn’t remember your dreams will wait for you for a lifetime.
3) The weather will be bad
January goals will always be disrupted by bad weather. It is a fact. Even if your goals are swimming or the gym the draw of a warm home and comfy sofa will always challenge a new starter. Know this challenge well and plan carefully. It’s ok to give yourself a break and choose the sofa every now and again but don’t let it keep you. Head straight out first thing or immediately after work. Add smaller bursts of exercise into your day. Anything to keep even the smallest amount of motivation and achievement going. Be kind, be flexible.
4) The monkeys will have tasty snacks all over the place
You got rid of the Christmas treats, the cheese the chocolate and you’re all set. Now you’re sleep deprived, you have a horrible virus and it is cold outside. You made a bowl of cereal for a monkey. It looks nice so you have a spoon, just to check it, next thing you are pouring another bowl for them because you ate it all. Guess what? Well done you are 100% normal!!! Your body probably just needs something more than the boring healthy food you made for dinner. Big soups are a winner. Make a whole pot and dip in whenever you feel weak. Melon is also a good one when the plate of left over pizza crusts or chicken nuggets is calling you. Chop up two and keep it in the fridge whenever you feel weak, dip in. This won’t always work but if you manage 50% of the time it is better than giving in. Any slip ups just forgive yourself and move on. It has taken me all month to start eating an orange alongside my coffee instead of a sweet treat.
My own personal nightmare. Big or small injuries are the worst. (My shin splints are feeling much better, thank you for asking) They are frustrating, infuriating and a guaranteed willpower killer. Again though, they are not the end of the world (even if they feel like it). Three things will happen if your injury is long term. Sticking to a healthy diet is harder. You will get down (or even depressed) and your willpower will almost completely evaporate. Unless you do your best to fight it.
Despite common belief it is diet not exercise that helps you lose weight but exercise helps you stay positive and motivated. Keep your willpower up with something gentle like walking, swimming or cycling. I know they are not always the same just remember this is only temporary. Do the right thing by your injury and you will see the benefits soon enough. Any exercise should improve your mood and keep you stable enough while you heal. Keep an eye on it though if your mood doesn’t improve get help. Make sure you have support. From health professionals, friends and family or even strangers online, any words of support or comfort or even a walking or cycling buddy, support is the best way to keep your willpower. Never be embarrassed to ask for help.
Feed it, Water it, support it
My top tips to keep your willpower. Give yourself a break. Know your hurdles. Spot them before they arrive. If you falter don’t let your brain tell you it is ok to give in completely. You made a mistake’ learn from it. There is no reason to be embarrassed you are only human. Eat well, drink plenty of water, herbal tea, sugar free juice if you don’t like anything else. Rest when you can but don’t stop moving completely. Finally, be kind to yourself. Just starting to chase your dreams is a step forward. Set backs don’t need to be the end. Re-evaluate your plan, if need be reset your goals but remember to still be SMART about it. You can do this. Willpower is a fluctuation of motivation. Once you have it, you have to look after it. Feed it, Water it, support it.
Good luck 🙂