Even with the tool you received during gastric sleeve in Mexico, willpower still comes into play as you lose weight and then maintain a healthy weight. But Dr. A, you may think, if I had willpower, I wouldn’t have needed VSG! The truth is that willpower alone won’t help many overweight and obese patients, but a combination of vertical sleeve gastrectomy and willpower can help immensely. So how do you boost your willpower? Below are 5 tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Work it like a muscle. Like patience, willpower can be enhanced by navigating situations that require it—or, maybe I should say, by navigating such situations well. It’s much easier, mentally, to remove temptation so you don’t have to use willpower. But you can’t sanitize life. There will be buffets, co-workers who bring cake to the office, holiday parties, etc. Practice a short list of responses like, “No, thank you,” “Maybe later,” or “That food doesn’t agree with me” so they’re on the tip of your tongue. Think of it as strength training for your willpower. And the more you successfully work that willpower, the easier it will become over time.
Tip #2: Don’t get to the end of your rope. Willpower doesn’t stand a chance if you’re compromised emotionally or physically. Most of us don’t make great decisions when we’re tired, stressed, and/or hungry. So give yourself and your willpower a fighting chance by eating before you’re famished and getting the amount of sleep you need to function at your best. And just as important is finding a way to manage stress. Because, if you’re honest with yourself, you’re probably a stress eater. Many people are. Yoga, meditation, reading a good book, binging a favorite TV show—whatever lowers your stress level—must be a fundamental part of your life.
Tip #3: Stop saying “can’t.” If you know anything about 12-step recovery programs, you know that one-day-at-a-time is a key principle. Why? Because it’s overwhelming to think about never having or doing something again. When you’re faced with temptation and say to yourself or others, “I can’t have that,” what you’re saying is that your decisions are out of your control. And that’s dangerous. When you were a kid and your parents said you couldn’t have something or do something, what did you want more than anything? That thing. When you reframe your thought process as “I don’t…,” you take back control. “I don’t eat that” is a signal to your brain that you’re in charge. If you want to eat it later, it’s an option. And that’s a good thing, mentally.
Tip #4: Up your exercise game. You know that feeling at the end of a good workout when you’re tired but somehow able to take on the world? You might even be hungry, but you probably don’t want to ruin all that effort with a cupcake or bag of chips, right? The more you work out, the more you won’t want to “ruin” your effort. And all those feel-good endorphins don’t hurt either!
Tip #5: Ration your willpower. Willpower is a finite resource. So if you know you’ll be called upon to use it at some point during the day (at a party, perhaps), try to avoid depleting it before you get there. Most of us tend to have more willpower early in the day and less of it at the end, so eliminate as many tests as possible as the day goes on. That’s why morning exercise works best for so many people; your willpower hasn’t been tapped yet. Similarly, having a gastric sleeve diet-approved dinner already prepped when you get home from work means you don’t have to test that run-down willpower with another decision.
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.