Where There's a Will, There's a Belly Dancer
It’s funny how most of our New Year’s resolutions always have to do with avoiding something. Avoiding the allure of that last cigarette, a forbidden jelly doughnut, that couture belly dance costume that is just crying our name... It all comes down to this: Willpower.
It helps to think of willpower as a muscle. Like biceps or triceps, willpower can vary in its strength from person to person, but also from moment to moment. Just as well-developed biceps sometimes get tired and jelly-like after a strenuous workout, so does your willpower "muscle." Even moments of every day decision making, like trying to make a good impression on a restaurant owner, or trying to organize a hafla can call on your willpower muscle and deplete your strength.
One of the first things you will need to do to get your willpower muscle ready for spring training is to accept that your self-control is limited. If you have spent all of your energy dealing with work stress, skipped lunch and the trainer, chances are that C-A-K-E, W-I-N-E and other 4-letter words will be waiting for you when you walk in the door. Think about when you feel the most stressed, and make a Plan B. Try to work in a run to help release some steam, or opt for a sensible snack instead.
Another way that will power is like a muscle is that it can be strengthened over time, with regular "work outs." Start by picking an activity or an item that you know is hard to resist, and try to incorporate resistance into your daily routine. Just like any other new work out, it will be difficult – but soon you'll be flexing your improved willpower muscle like pro.
Daily activities, like practicing your belly dancing, keeping track of your finances or what you are eating, or even just remembering to sit up straight every time you think of it, can strengthen your capacity for self-control.
Be careful that you don't take on too many new tasks at once. More is not always better! If you're trying to quit smoking, then focus only on that. Don't try to quit smoking AND start an intensive diet plan, studies have shown that you're more like to fail at BOTH.
The good news is, willpower depletion is only temporary. Just like your other muscles, even your willpower needs a break from time to time – and a little "pick me up" is in order. Spring for a new hip scarf or piece of jewelry while you're saving up for the "it" belly dance costume, let yourself indulge in that piece of baklava. Anything that lifts your spirits can also help restore your self-control strength.