Monday, December 7, 2009

Is your willpower shorting out before you fit exercise into your day?

Have you ever been driving and thinking, "I'm going to go for a run after xyz task", or "I am going to hit the gym after dinner tonight."? I have. All the time.

Have you ever had these positive intentions but failed to actually DO them? Welcome to life. Ends up, we all have only so much willpower. Once we've completed a day of errands, work tasks, and the hustle of daily life, we're often left running on depleted willpower stores [1]. Do we succumb to this fact, or do something about it? The latter, of course!

No excuse to pass on the workouts! Ways to keep moving when willpower has its limits [1]:

Schedule exercise.
It's a plan, make it happen. Bring your workout clothes to work so there's no stop over at home between work and your workout.

Get a trainer or exercise buddy.
Accountability is a great motivator!

Get it over with.
If you're pooped after the day is done, plan workouts for the morning hours so that you get it over with early in the day.

Get in a good mood.
Studies show that people can show more self-control when they are in a good mood.

This article was brought to my attention by our podiatrist at work as she was returning from her lunch hour in a sweaty rush. When I gave her mad props for her lunch hour workout, she explained to me this research and has chosen to out-smart her limited willpower by bumping her workout up to her lunch hour.

Likewise, I giving a go at switching my workout time to the mornings once our new treadmill is up and running (fingers crossed for later this week). While I've never thought of myself as a "morning person", I am finding more and more so that by the end of the day a workout is right up there with doing the dishes, folding laundry, and making lunches. You know, just another dreaded to-do. We'll see how the mornings go but I have a feeling that once I get the timing worked out just right, the mornings and I could make for a serious butt-kicking combo.

I also received a HUGE pat on the back in an email from my boot camp instructor to our group of participants. The email included a line which read, "Congrats to Nicole who lost the most number of inches last month!" Woooot!

Question: Can you remember the last time you PLANNED to workout...but it never happened before the day was done?

Me: Just this past Friday, oops!

[1]. Boyles, Salynn. Limited Willpower Can Affect Your Workout. WebMD Health News. September 25, 2009.


  1. I gotta say, I'm probably one of the very few people who is REALLY good about working out when I want to. I think there have been 1, or maybe 2 days in my life when I haven't worked out when I planned to! Of course, I don't work a 9-5 job, nor do I have children, so this may change in the future. But that's when I'll get an elliptical for the basement!

    Regarding your comment on my blog, most of the time the Terra chips have very few chips, but the Mediterranean ones have a bit more, and they are still remaining after an entire week! Score.

  2. Nice writting. I think I needed this, I was planning on working out today but my car died, I lost my motivation, and I can still feel the burrito from 3 hours ago sitting in my stomach. BUT I know I'll feel better than I do now if I go, even if it's just for 30 minutes :)

  3. Ha, I understand this!

    I definitely have a workout schedule and it's just made up in my mind that I will work out at those times and that's that. It works for me ... I skip once in awhile but that's tentatively planned to happen once in awhile ; )

  4. I can totally relate!!! especially since I have to get to work pretty early and then feel tuckered afterwards. But if I have it in my mind that I want to work out and feel good, I do it! I also like to make a realistic gym schedule for the week. There's an awesome hip hop class that I love to go to at 7:45pm which is pretty late. I make a promise to myself not to over eat at dinner so that I can really enjoy it and it's such fun that most of the time I just can't make any excuses!
    Hope your morning workouts work out :) I'm so jealous of the treadmill!

  5. I planned all last month. I only made it the first week. I hope to tomorrow but as they day wears on the stuff piles up. I work part time during the day here, part time the afternoon at home, then nap before teaching all night on Mondays and Thursday, so I am really into my sleep right now. I am lucky to get in 7 hours and this is after barely stopping for a break. I am wondering if I need to give up a job (one job has 3 roles I fill and the other has 2 roles) but I prefer to be super busy so i doubt I'll ever give up the work. I am hoping over my break to get hours in at the gym. I always drive around with a gym bag just in case.

  6. This is a great and very inspirational post! I needed to read this today since I skipped my workout today. I'm definitely feeling pumped to get right back at it tomorrow!! :)

  7. Yes, our posts are very similar today! :) Great points!

    If I had a choice, I would work out first thing in the morning every day. That way life doesn't "get into the way" and my mood is lifted first thing in the morning. But unfortunately, that's not an option right now. For me, not allowing myself to cancel my workouts (but rather making myself reschedule/change the activity) has really been working.

  8. its not a lack of will power but of skill power!

  9. great post girl!!
    glad you had a great night..good for you for taking the day off!

  10. This frequently happens to me and I hate it! But sometimes a few days off leaves me super energized for my next workout. Today I taught a yoga class at 7 in the morning and then worked out afterwards and it felt so great to workout in the morning! I wish I had more time for workouts because being active is something I truly enjoy. I wish I could commit to giving my time and money to a trainer!!

  11. i have left an award for you on my blog

  12. Thanks for your comments on my blog! I must say my willpower depends on how taxing my day was but it also depends on what is waiting for me at night. When I'm at school, there's nothing to do so the gym doesn't sad too bad. When I'm at home though, I want to hang out with my friends and family, so working out is the last thing I want to do! Great topic!

  13. You are so right - it is human to do this! I find that it happens more to me when I'm not working toward a specific goal (i.e. getting to a certain "fit" of my clothes, training for a race). Great tips! I look forward to keeping up! :)

  14. I totally agree. The will to workout is usually not the problem with most people, it's the actual motivation to start. Everyone WANTS to be healthy. I don't think I have ever met someone who would disagree; but, so many people don't want to work at being healthy. Healthful living shouldn't be hard work, but it does take mindful descions, a general knowledge of nutrition, and the overall desire and motivation to never stop working at it.

    Great tips! :)

  15. Love your blog. I just changed my workout program to fit into my schedule better and I needed a good pep talk. Thanks! I'm following hoping to get regular injections.

  16. This is so me. I hate to say I am guilty of this all the time. Even tonight, for example, I am planning on doing a P90X dvd. But it seems whenever I plan on doing this after work, it never happens. Here's hoping. I have four solid days of scheduled workouts so for the most part I am on track. With all the holiday eatings though, I need to bump it up for sure.
    Hope you enjoy the treadmill!!