It’s the end of another long day. The gym kit might be packed and ready to rock after work, but the cosy spot n the sofa next to your honey-pie is calling your name. Snuggle in with a glass of wine and the kettle chips or go get sweaty and munch on steamed broccoli? No matter how much you know you should – and that you’ll feel great afterwards – making it happen is hard. Especially after a tough day and especially if you are one half of a couple.
Psychologists suggest that willpower is like a muscle – it gets stronger over time with use, but it can also get tired after a long period of use. So a tough day at work will see a dip in your willpower to get to gym and stick to the nutrition plan. Just knowing that this can be a challenge will allow you prepare for it. Plan how you will talk yourself back into sticking with it by writing down the thoughts you think when you skip the gym or blow the diet. If you know what you think when you fail, you can prepare for the thought patterns that sabotage you for next time.
Get someone to keep you accountable, a workout buddy, for instance. For most of us, our partner won’t fulfill this role. It’s not that our partners don’t want us to get trim, it’s just that generally people in couples encourage the bad habits in each other. On average, men and women each gain a stone/14 lbs after settling into to a long term relationship!
It’s hard enough to keep going when willpower is depleted, but throw in someone you love waiting at home with the Hagen Daas, and you’re toast! Also, some partners are not supportive of the time away, energy and dedication it takes to get or maintain a good level of fitness, even if they would appreciate the results.
But if your partner is a couch potato or a junk food junkie, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. If you want to eat together and spend time without sacrificing your goals, you’re going to have to switch on your problem solving mode. This might be cooking meals that can accommodate both of you (for instance, I eat my eggs and bacon with spinach while my non-fitness husband has his with lots of toast). It might be about substituting extra veg for parts of the meal or being prepared to eat different things. Plan your workouts like non-negotiable appointments. Tell your partner you will working out those evenings/mornings, that way if you don’t you know you’ll have to answer for it.
Lack of willpower affects us all. And our relationships will either encourage or discourage our efforts. Seek out supportive people. And tell the people you care about what you need from them. These are challenges that you can deal with. The good news is that just like muscle, willpower can get stronger with repeated use!