Though the weather says January, it’s April, believe it or not. So how’s that New Year’s resolution workin’ for ya? “What resolution,” you ask. You know, the one where you promised yourself that you’d make massive, healthful changes to your diet and get fit in 2018. It worked for a few days or maybe a few weeks, but then the voices started up again. The cookies and the cupcakes, or the chips and the pretzels started whispering to you, started calling your name again, quietly, softly, consistently, almost constantly. These tempters are hard to resist, and sometimes, your willpower goes offline or fails altogether and you feel the overpowering urge to give in. And you do. But after that, you try again, you reset your willpower quotient and try again. After a few rounds of the same cycle, maybe you decide you’re just not strong enough, or the change is not worth the challenge, even though deep inside, you really know that it is.
What if, instead of relying on the limited and sometimes fickle resource of willpower, there is a better way to upgrade and maintain your dietary goals, and your exercise goals? Actually, there are many helpful ways to make your desired change stick, but let’s talk about what is quite possibly the most powerful: Intention.
Intention, a deep-seated, unrelenting resolve that goes far beyond the willpower. It doesn’t rely on how you feel. It doesn’t need anyone else to agree with it. And it doesn’t wane with use; use actually strengthens it. At its core, within the heart of an intention, you’ll find your why, and having a strong why is one of your hidden superpowers.
When I’m in full training mode, usually March through October, I’ve found that I have this striking, mutant-like ability to resist my own personal kryptonite. How? It’s really simple. I set the intention that I will train at a high level and I won’t enjoy my “victory dance”, i.e., eat sweets, until after a certain day has been reached or a certain event has been accomplished. Once I set that mental intention, backed by a solid end-date, I’m good. I can purchase my favorite ice cream and though I may see it in my freezer every single day, I don’t experience even a twinge of desire to eat it, even if my victory dance day is weeks or months away.
I’ve used this method for decades with an astonishing success rate of about 97% . That’s not to say I always eat right and never enjoy a cookie, or donuts, or candy on occasion, ’cause I do. I just don’t eat sweets during my hardcore training period. After that, from about Thanksgiving to the first part of a New Year, well, that’s a different story that I’ll save for another time…
Why does this work? Why does setting an intention seal the deal? When you have a reason, a why, and a when, you can endure just about anything in order to reach your goal. If on the other hand one dallies with a vague notion of what they maybe would sort of like to accomplish, doesn’t possess a strong enough why, and hasn’t set a concrete end-date, the chances of making progress, let alone of succeeding, are close to nil.
So, if you’re struggling to change your diet, or stay on course with your fitness program, and you are up for a fun little challenge, experiment with the following:
- Believe that being intentional matters, because it does. Believe you can do this, because you can.
- Set an intention with an end-date of one to two weeks, something like, “I will not eat cookies (or whatever your tempting treat may be) until April 28.” This can be purely mental, but you can add it to your calendar or your daily / hourly reminders.
- Purchase your kryptonite and store it where it can be seen, but not necessarily seen every day. When you do see it, think or whisper to yourself, “My victory dance will be on April 28th because I (insert your why here)…”
- Stay on, or resume your workout plan, and hit it hard.
- Add a few more healthy snacks to your diet, like fruits or vegetables, seeds or nuts, etc.
For some, this will work the very first time. If so, great; now expand the experiment and see what else you can accomplish by setting a powerful intention. Your mind is really the limit.
If it doesn’t work for you on the first go, try it again. You may want to tweak your intention if it doesn’t work the second time, but above all else, do not let yourself become discouraged; seeing the positive results you desire, and that you deserve, could take a little longer than you first expected, but it will be worth it.
You’ve got this. You can do this.
Good luck. Be sure to let me know how it works for you!