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"4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control" Review

Even when armed with the most effective tools to lose weight or reach your fitness peak, your self-control (willpower) will be the defining factor in your success. The message below could be the push you need to overcome the hurdle to your best self (from the article 4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control).

The Willpower Workout


In their book “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,” Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney disclosed the idea that willpower is like a muscle that can be strengthened.

The authors argue that the mental equivalent of high-rep, low-weight training can boost willpower. Their method: Start small, then build. Little willpower wins over the course of a day, week, or month can lead to larger gains down the road.

As an example, Baumeister and Tierney cite performance artist David Blaine. When he trains for his strange public feats —such as spending 64 hours inside a giant ice cube—he does so by practicing small acts of willpower, such as not drinking alcohol. “Getting your brain wired into little goals and achieving them helps you achieve the bigger things you shouldn’t be able to do,’’ Blaine said. “It’s not just practicing the specific thing."

If your goal is to diet and lose weight , you can build your willpower by doing seemingly non-related things – like taking a walk every day, or cleaning your home every night.

If you’re Blaine, maybe you shave your creepy facial hair every day. Whatever works for you.

4 Proven Willpower Hacks


1. POSTPONEMENT OF DESIRE - You can, for lack of a better word, trick yourself into better behavior. Nicole Mead of the Catolica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics and her colleagues say that postponing consumption of an unhealthy snack to an unspecified future time reduces snack intake. Mead believes that reducing desire, rather than strengthening willpower, is an effective strategy for controlling unwanted food-related cravings.

Postponement gives the brain a cooling-off period that leads to more snack no’s than yesses, Mead told WebMD. She adds that the postponement should not be specific. In other words, you shouldn’t say, “I’ll eat that entire Fudgie the Whale Carvel Ice Cream Cake in 30 minutes.” You should say, “I’ll eat the cake at some point later.”

2. FLEX YOUR MUSCLES - But there’s another trick you can use if you feel your willpower slipping: Flex your muscles. Iris W. Hung of the National University of Singapore and Aparna A. Labroo of the University of Chicago conducted a study in which participants were who were instructed to tighten their muscles, regardless of which muscles they tightened, demonstrated a greater ability to withstand pain, consume unpleasant medicine, attend to disturbing but essential information and overcome tempting foods.

The researches theorize that the body primes the mind.

3. USE MENTAL IMAGERY - Mental imagery, used by athletes worldwide, is another willpower hack. According to Harvard researchers, people who do a good deed or who imagine doing a good deed are better able to perform tasks of physical endurance.

In a strange twist, those who envisioned themselves doing something bad had more endurance than those who envisioned themselves doing something good. In this case, researchers believe that the mind primes the body.

The findings are based on two studies. In the first, participants were given a dollar and told either to keep it or give it to charity. They were then asked to hold a five-pound weight for as long as they could. Those who donated to charity held the weight for an average of almost 10 seconds longer.

In a second study, participants held a weight while writing fictional stories in which they helped another person, harmed another person or did something that had no impact on other people.

Participants who wrote about doing good were significantly stronger than those whose actions didn't benefit anyone. Researchers were surprised to learn that the people who wrote about harming others were even stronger than the participants who envisioned helping someone.

"Whether you're saintly or nefarious, there seems to be power in moral events," researcher Kurt Gray said when the study was published. "People often look at others who do great or evil deeds and think, 'I could never do that' or 'I wouldn't have the strength to do that.' But in fact, this research suggests that physical strength may be an effect, not a cause, of moral acts."

So next time you’re jogging and getting tired, picture yourself on a heroic quest to save the princess—or murder her father, the beloved king.

4. MODIFY YOUR ENVIRONMENT - You can also trick your brain by modifying your environment. Consumer psychologist Brian Wansink discovered that people eat and drink more out of bigger containers.

In one of his studies people lost weight when they ate off salad plates instead of large dinner plates, kept unhealthy foods out of sight, moved healthier foods to eye-level and ate in the kitchen or dining room instead of in front of the television.

Willpower Depletion


Like your muscles, your willpower can tire out. According to a study co-authored by Baumeister, the more frequently and recently people resisted a desire, the less successful they will be at resisting subsequent desires. He believes people only have so much willpower to use during the day.

How can you tell if your willpower is depleted?

People with low willpower feel things, both physically and emotionally, more intensely. Baumeister and his colleagues found that people with low willpower reported more distress in response to an upsetting film and rated cold water as more painful during a cold-water immersion test.

Making choices isn’t the only way to burn through your willpower. Another culprit: hunger. Another Baumeister study concluded that acts of self-control reduce blood glucose levels and low blood glucose levels predict a lack of self-control. It’s the proverbial vicious cycle.

The good news is that glucose is sugar, which is fuel for the brain, and it can be replenished. Ideally your sugar should come from a healthy source, such as fruits.

Don’t drink a regular soda to avoid eating a cookie.

What you want to do is ward off decision fatigue. McMaster University associate professor of kinesiology Kathleen Martin Ginis says that having to make many decisions can cause a person to cave into temptation.

In his efficiency book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity," David Allen urges busy people who want to be more productive to create folders in their email, and in their file cabinets, into which they can file decisions that don’t need to be made until later.

Allen’s tactic acknowledges that it takes a lot of energy to focus on the present and remain productive. Folders remove the burdens of constant decision-making.

Ginis said making regular plans to exercise at the same time every day also nets positive results.

The Depletion Debate


Not everyone agrees with the Baumeister camp. Many researchers believe that willpower, in fact, can not be depleted. For example, Stanford psychologists found that people who think willpower can be depleted are more likely to be tired when performing a tough task. People who think that willpower cannot be drained easily stay on task longer without losing focus.

So which one are you?

Can you stay focused on one thing for long periods of time? If you can, you’re in the Stanford camp. Soldier on.

Do you find that your energy drains quickly when you’re focusing? If so, you’re in the Baumeister camp. Grab an orange.

The Future of Willpower


It has only been three years since Caltech scientists pinpointed the parts of the brain that regulate willpower—the ventral medial prefrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

“After centuries of debate in social sciences, we are finally making big strides in understanding self-control from watching the brain resist temptation directly," researcher Colin Camerer said on discovery. Camerer hopes his research will lead to better theories on how self-control develops and how it works for various types of temptations.

Until science makes a willpower pill, find hacks that help you will your way past the donut.

How will you strengthen your self-control?

Picture Credit: www.Livestrong.com - My personal training clients have used a lot of these strategies to lose weight. Do you have the self-control to stay away from a cupcake when you need to?

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control" on Livestrong.com
"4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.
 

"10 Secrets to Lose 25 Pounds Now" Review

There are a lot of weight loss tricks in the book but stick to the ones that will lead to sustainable, long-term success. I chose the 8 most valuable from the recent article by Pamela Bede of Runner's World (10 Secrets to Lose 25 Pounds Now)....which ironically doesn't suggest running a marathon every day (good news, right?).

If you're still struggling to lose weight, slowly integrate 1 new strategy every 2 days until you've checked them all off.

1. DO SOME DETECTIVE WORK


Take some time to identify the most likely culprits of the unwanted weight. Are fried or sugary foods too tough to resist? Is it hard to avoid noshing whenever free food is within arm’s reach? Are you too tired and busy to shop and cook healthy meals? Or do emotions—like boredom, anxiety, nervousness, depression, and joy—send you straight to the fridge?

For most people, a wide variety of factors lead them to pack on unwanted pounds. The answers can lead you to your best first steps. If intense emotions are driving you to eat, identify alternate routes that will offer relief without derailing your weight-loss goals. You might reach out to a friend, get more sleep, sink into the distraction of a good book or movie.

2. GET MOVING


It’s difficult to lose weight by just cutting calories. Research shows that reducing calorie intake through diet and exercise is the most effective way to shed unwanted pounds and keep them off. It’s ideal to develop a regular exercise routine of three to four times a week.

But also try to incorporate more activity whenever you can. Take the long way to the restroom, take the stairs rather than the elevator, park your car as far as you can from the front door. Set a timer to chime every hour so that you get up from your seat. Even standing rather than sitting at your desk will help. Studies have shown that standing at your desk during an eight-hour workday will burn 163 more calories than if you were sitting.

3. PLAN AHEAD


Everyone has their weak moments—situations where they find it tough to make healthy choices. Make a list of those occasions and settings where your diet tends to take a detour. No healthy lunch options at work? Pack your own. Devour everything in the fridge in the 10 anxious minutes after you walk in from work? Snack on the way home, and have a pre-cooked dinner that you can reheat right when you get home.

If you go off the rails late at night, once the kids are in bed and you have a chance to decompress, think of another activity far from the kitchen that helps you relax. Try a book, a shower, a call to a friend, a hot bath, a fun movie. Hate to cook or don’t have time for it? Get a book or order premade foods or convenient healthy foods.

4. FILL UP ON FRUITS AND VEGGIES


You can eat large portions without loading up on calories—as long as you’re eating fruits and vegetables. Compared with other foods, produce is low in calories and high on nutrients, fiber, and water, all of which will help you lose weight without being hungry. Fill half your plate at every meal with fruits and vegetables. Fill the other half with whole grains and lean protein—lean cuts of meat, beans, tofu, or low-fat dairy—to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

5. DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES


Stick to calorie-free beverages like water or hot tea. A 20-ounce soda can pack 240 calories and 65 grams of sugar. Even a grande hot chocolate with fat-free milk has 360 calories. Add whipped cream, and you have an entire meal’s worth of calories before you’ve taken your first bite. If you love specialty drinks, choose a smaller size with fat-free or low-fat milk and skip the whipped cream and syrups. (Plus, just drinking more water might help you lose weight.)

6. DON’T DO ANYTHING DRASTIC


It’s hard to feel bad about your body or have a burning desire to be thinner. Everyone wants to get thin now. But crash diets that promise to help you do that—by limiting you to a small group of foods, drastically reducing your calorie intake, or requiring you to buy certain engineered foods, won’t work. Even if you lose weight fast, you’ll likely regain the weight and then some. If you want the weight loss to last for life, you need to make changes that you can sustain for life.

7. KEEP TRACK


Studies show that people who track the calories they consume lose weight and keep it off more than those who don’t. And there’s good reason. When you have to track your calories, you see the sources of empty calories that are low on nutrients. In order to accurately track calories, you have to measure out portions—another practice that’s proven to aid weight loss.

8. JUST PRACTICE; DON’T TRY TO BE PERFECT


Realize that it’s okay to indulge on occasion; one extra treat will not doom your dieting efforts. Everyone goes overboard from time to time. When you do, try not to wallow in guilt or anxiety about it. You can’t control the past, all you can control is the choice you can make right now. Work in enough foods that feel like rewards on a regular basis so that you don’t feel deprived and primed to binge on a regular basis. Remember, it takes time, effort, and practice to form new healthy eating habits.



What other strategies have you used to lose weight?

Picture Credit: motherearthliving.com - You probably need a little pop in your weight loss approach...and it's probably not what you typically order.


Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article 10 Secrets to Lose 25 Pounds Now on MSN.com
"10 Secrets to Lose 25 Pounds Now" Review
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.