There you are, face-to-face with an open bar or an all-you-can-eat buffet. What’s more likely to win?That next glass of beer—or your early-morning date with the gym?
This internal struggle is not imaginary, according to a recent study out of Caltech. Researchers found that there’s often an epic battle happening in your brain when you attempt to make a healthy choice, if only for a few seconds: One brain region fires, driving you to pick up a fork—while another drives back, attempting to suppress that desire.
So how can you make sure the healthy impulse wins out? If you typically have trouble resisting desserts or drafts, it’s time to give your willpower a workout. Experts theorize that the more you exercise self-control, the stronger it will become. So here, a few of their tips to get you on-track:
- Pay attention. It sounds obvious, but make sure you’re actually making a conscious decision. (You’re more likely to succumb to cravings when your mind drifts off—whether that’s to a movie, a video game, or a woman walking by in the bar.)
- Eat regularly. When your blood glucose level drops, so does your self-control. Keep your energy levels stable by eating frequent mini-meals and avoiding sugary foods—this will strengthen your ability to make good decisions.
- Set a long-term goal. Find reasons to stay on track, such as promising yourself a reward if you get to the gym every day for two weeks. This will motivate you in the meantime—and the more times you flex that brain muscle that chooses healthy behaviors? The stronger it will get.