Strengthen Your Willpower Reserve Part 4: Getting Sufficient Sleep
Today's Will Power Moment - 34
with Dr. James Meschino
In the past three video segments, I’ve explained 3 important ways to help you maintain an optimal mental and physiological state that enables you to easily succeed with your nutrition and exercise objectives and to resist the many temptations that come our way each and every day. This optimal mental and physiological (or energy state) is known a strong willpower reserve. Some days are harder than others to stay on track. That is just the way life is. But it becomes much easier to consistently stay on track when your willpower reserve is strong. When your willpower reserve is weak, that is when most people start to give into tempting foods and skip their workouts. So, the first three important ways to strengthen your willpower reserve that we covered so far include:
1. Movement – at least a 15-minute power walk per day. Make that your minimum exercise threshold. It is proven to reduce cravings and strengthen resistance to tempting foods and other substances, including cigarettes. Of course, I would prefer you to do a more substantial exercise routine that includes at least 30-minutes of cardiovascular exercise, at least 5 times per week. But on days when you can’t find the time to do that, then at least get in your 15-minute power walk or an aerobic exercise substitute (like the stationary bike, elliptical machine etc).
2. Distraction – find a positive distraction to channel your energy that involves up your hands (i.e. playing a musical instrument or even playing video games) and/or your body (going for a walk after dinner or taking dance classes) so you don’t eat food during idle time, or when watching television.
3. Meditation – Just a 5-minute meditation like the one I showed you in the last video reduces cravings and stress, which helps you succeed with your wellness goals.
The fourth strategy to strengthen your willpower reserve is to “Get Sufficient Sleep”
When you feel tired or your brain is tired – you are vulnerable:
- Vulnerable to eating high fat and/or sugar comfort foods
- Vulnerable to overeating
- Vulnerable to skipping your exercise routine
Being tired makes wellness initiatives seem overwhelming, causing you to feel defeated, and may prompt you to lose hope that you can ever succeed. When you feel tired wellness seems like an uphill battle. On the other hand, when you feel adequately rested, the whole thing is a breeze. When you’re rested it feels good to move. And moving increases your craving for healthier food. Being rested also gives you more psychological resistance to resist temptations. Remember that competitive athletes sleep at least 10 hours in any 24-hour cycle. Interviews haves shown that:
- Roger Federer gets 11 to 12 hours sleep per night
- Lebron James gets 12 hours of sleep per night
So, when you add exercise to your daily routine, even if its just 30-60 minutes per day, you have to add more sleep and recovery time or you will eventually fatigue out – physically and mentally. If you don’t you will eventually hit the wall of fatigue, and the wheels will fall off. That feeling of fatigue makes you very vulnerable. This is when you have setbacks, you gain the weight back, and you fall off the exercise wagon because your willpower reserve has been weakened by fatigue. So, in order to keep pushing forward towards the body nature intended you to have – fitter, more toned, more vibrant, healthier and looking and feeling younger, you have to get more rest. Usually, all it takes is going to bed 30-60 minutes earlier than you do right now. But I will tell you that those 30-60 minutes can make a huge difference to your overall energy level and your ability to easily follow through with your wellness intentions.
Simply stated – being in a rested state strengthens your willpower reserve, which makes it much easier to resist food temptations, and increases your desire to move your body and exercise. This, in turn, increases your craving for healthier food and a more health-promoting lifestyle. Over time you will ultimately experience the healthy addiction that following a healthy lifestyle produces within you. Know that things get much easier once you land there.
So, the final plank in keeping your willpower reserve strong from day-to-day is to get the extra sleep you need. If you are going to exercise, and you know it’s a critical foundation of wellness and enhancing your body shape, then you simply need a bit more sleep to stay in an optimal mental and physiological state each day to enable you to make wellness choices with minimal effort. – that’s your willpower reserve in action. If you end up missing some sleep for a day or two, remember that you can repay the sleep debt by catching up on a weekend if necessary, but try to get the rest you need as consistently as possible from day-to-day to keep your willpower reserve as strong a possible every day.
Ok, keep your willpower reserve strong each day by:
- Moving your body
- Finding positive distractions that interest you
- Via Meditation – even just 5-10 minutes per day
- And Getting enough sleep each day to feel rested from day-to-day.
If you’ll do these things I guarantee that it will be much easier for you to succeed with your weight loss and wellness goals.
So, good luck and keep your willpower reserve strong.
Dr. James Meschino
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.