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Train your willpower traveling

Self-control and willpower are like muscles, they can get stronger over time. Contrary to popular belief, willpower is not an innate trait that you’re either born with or without. No, it’s a complex mind-body response that can be compromised by various factors and that can be toughened through certain practices.
Maintaining a healthy diet and actually sticking to your travel fitness routine in the hotel gym, can get tricky when it comes to hitting the road. There is something about traveling that makes you ditch all diets and exercise plans. Is it the jet lag, the sugary food or just all the distracting temptations? Whatever the reason, willpower is the one thing you should work on. At its essence, willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals. And there are plenty of good reasons to do so. The University of Pennsylvania explored self-control in eighth-graders over the course of the school year. The researchers first gauged the students’ self-discipline (their term for self-control) by having teachers, parents and the students themselves complete questionnaires. They also gave students an assignment in which they had the option of receiving $1 instantaneously or waiting a week to receive $2. They found students who ranked high on self-discipline had better grades, better school attendance, and higher standardized-test scores, and were more likely to be admitted to a excellent high school program. Self-discipline, the researchers found, was more important than IQ in predicting academic success.

Contrary to popular belief, willpower is not an innate trait that you’re either born with or without. No, it’s a complex mind-body response that can be compromised by stress, sleep deprivation and nutrition and that can be toughened through certain practices. Trying to control your temper, ignore distractions or refuse seconds all tap the same source of strength. Research also shows that willpower decreases over the course of the day, as your energy gets “spent” on stress and self-control. This has become known as “the muscle model” of willpower. When you use willpower intensely, it becomes fatigued, reducing the amount of strength available for the next challenge. After some time and with rest it recuperates, but telling someone who is completely and totally exhausted to just “try harder,” isn’t going to cut it. It just doesn’t work that way. All tasks draw upon your willpower, from regulating emotions to making daily decisions, to communicating with coworkers, friends, family and kids. Before Steve Jobs was famous for wearing jeans and a black polo every day, there was Albert Einstein buying many versions of the same grey suit. They both knew that by saving brain power on decisions like what to wear, it could be better used elsewhere.

How can we avoid a total breakdown of your willpower after an intense trip? This is where a routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly comes in really handy. Some people call this a habit. For example, if showering is part of your automatic morning routine, then you don’t have to think about using the shower every morning, you just do it. It’s a habit and it saves willpower for your more important challenges. Healthy nutrition comes into play because it also influences how available energy is for the brain. Something as simple as eating a more plant-based, less-processed diet makes energy more available to brain and can improve every aspect of willpower from overcoming procrastination to going to the hotel gym as you had planned to do. Especially when you are traveling, watching your sugar intake can make a major difference. So indeed, skipping that muffin is good for your body and your mind.

Self-control and willpower are like muscles, they can get stronger over time. You can increase your willpower by training. And avoid behavior that will deplete your willpower like having too much stress, sleeping too short and eating unhealthy. Furthermore you can use these five tactics if you actually want to stay fit while traveling

1. Go Back to Sleep to Be More Productive While You’re Traveling

It’s usually a good thing to listen to your body; but when you just entered a new time zone, your body doesn’t know what’s good for you anymore. But sleeping is a great way to help your body recover. So if you feel your bosy is playing a trick on you. Just give in, make a powernap and feel refreshed an up for a great workout!

2. Plan your day meticulously, even your free time

Treat your workouts like any other important appointments in your calendar. The best way to create a habit during your trip is to have a written plan. Decide on the best time for exercise beforehand and actually enter it into your agenda. When you check your schedule in the morning, you’ll see it there and it will help you form a mental picture of when and how you’ll be exercising that day, which helps you stay motivated.

3. Create a routine, a recurring workout schedule

While jet lag is messing with your biological clock anyway, use the mornings to have a fresh start. Wake up 30-minutes early, eat your snack (banana, some yoghurt, whatever…) and get a quick 20/30-minute workout done. The energy boost you get from exercising and becoming awake an fit will more make-up for the lost 30-minutes of snooze time, plus you’ll move faster and with greater clarity during the day. How’s that for a kick of your willpower.

4. Make yourself accountable

This is part of the ‘challenge yourself routine’. Your goal should be to maintain 10,000 steps a day. The best way to do that is to get a pedometer at your local sporting goods store or download an app that converts your cell phone to a pedometer. People wearing pedometers tend to walk more because they’re more conscious of their steps. And while you are traveling, climbing a flight of stairs in your hotel is the equivalent of walking 100 steps. So unless you are on the 42nd floor, try using the stairs more often!

5. Don’t be too hard on yourself

Don’t over-schedule yourself. If you need to spend a few hours planning and booking the next leg of your journey, don’t expect to get more done. Know your limits and realize that travel planning is full of decisions and is a big drain on will power. There is no need to go to the hotel gym two hours every day. This is about staying fit, feeling focused again and feeling good about yourself. Not about making yourself feel bad if you have skipped a day. In healthy travel, a little effort is always better than no effort. Doing a little exercise is always better than nothing. There are many little things you can do that can make a difference. If you don’t have time to work out for an hour, do 30 minutes. If you don’t have the motivation to run 5 miles, at least run 2 miles.  If you only have time to do push ups in your hotel room, do push ups in your hotel room. It will make you feel so much better! Want to know more on willpower and have some time to spare? See this one hour YouTube video