Why is it that sometimes we have fantastic self-control and at other times it seems to have escaped our abilities altogether?
Self-control is what experts call “delay discounting.” It is making a choice between an immediate small reward or a larger reward later. When you have self-control, you are choosing the bigger rewards you will receive at a later date. We all experience delay discounting in several aspects of our lives:
- Do you want to purchase that new item now? Or, save the money to go towards a bigger investment later?
- Do you want to eat that enormous chocolate brownie for the immediate, wonderful taste? Or do you choose to pass it up because you know the brownie does not help your long-term weight loss goals?
- Do you want to catch up on all the latest on social media so you don’t feel left out of todays news? Or do you choose to go outside for that 20-minute walk?
All those small choices add up to big results over the long haul – if you can delay gratification. The number of times we choose immediate gratification over a delayed reward is a measure of impulsivity.
The real question is, can we improve or take control of impulsivity?
I have six tips to help harness self-control so you can enjoy the things you really want, and deserve in life:
- Good nutrition is key. Eating according to the Fat-Burning Machine guidelines helps keep your hormones steady (no wild swing in blood sugar and mood) and the foods cause feelings of satisfaction (called satiety.)
- Clear long-term goals and why. If you are clear on your long-term weight loss goal and why that goal is important to YOU, your ability to control impulsive choices is much better. Know your “why.”
- Exercise. A recent study showed exercise with intensity changes (think Miracle Intervals) gives people better self-control. Get out and walk – that’s all it takes. Ten minutes is better than zero.
- Sleep. We all know that the more sleep-deprived we are, the less likely that we’ll make good food choices. Enough good quality sleep is critical to helping you meet your weight loss goals.
- Stop and wait. There is that moment just before we take action that the voice in our head says, “I shouldn’t do this,” or “I shouldn’t eat this.” When your voice is warning you, look at the clock and wait five to 10 minutes before you act. Impulsive desires often disappear given just a few minutes.
- Forgiveness. When you do slip-up, forgive yourself and move on. Self-hatred often leads to more self-destructive behaviors. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the Fat-Burning Machine plan.