Karen Asp, SELF magazine
So how can you get yourself to hold back from cleaning out the entire bowl of peanut M&M's? You actually have the willpower in you-and these tiny moves can help you channel it.
The binge trigger: You're on edge.
Stress depletes your stores of glucose, which your brain needs to fuel smart decision making, says Ken Cheng, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences at Macquarie University. Meaning when you're wigging, you have less mental mojo to walk away from the goodies.
Stay strong. Close your eyes and breathe deeply to chill out that moment. To reduce tension long-term, do Downward Dogs: Yoga cuts levels of the stress hormone cortisol, so you'll feel more Zen.
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The binge trigger: You're totally exhausted.
Skimping on sleep taxes the brain region that helps you strategize about what you're going to eat-making it harder to manage what ends up in your mouth. In fact, when people snoozed for only four hours a night, they wolfed down 500 more calories the next day than when they slept for eight hours, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports.
Stay strong. Sleep seven to eight hours a night. Yeah, yeah-easier said than done. So try this: If you have a busy week coming up, clock the most shut-eye the first few nights, says Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., author of The Willpower Instinct. Then, even if you sleep less as the week goes on, you'll still have an easier time resisting pig-outs come the final push toward the weekend.
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The binge trigger: You've been resisting temptations all day.
Doesn't matter if it's a cupcake or a new pair of shoes you've passed on, "when you exert any self-control, your resolve weakens, leaving you more vulnerable at the next crossroads," says Roy F. Baumeister, Ph.D., author of Willpower. Translation: Seconds on dessert may seem irresistible later.
Stay strong. Make a plan in advance. Self-control is at its peak the first time you use it and tends to wane with each challenge, because your brainpower is drained. So in the a.m., anticipate likely enticing moments and how you'll respond. For example, "I'm going to hit happy hour tonight, so I'll definitely have a glass of wine, but I'll skip the schmancy, high-cal cocktails." At the bar, it will be easier to stick to your guns because you already know your order.
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The binge trigger: You feel stingy.
What does generosity (or the lack thereof) have to do with discipline? People who donated just $1 to charity had the stamina to hold a weight about 20 percent longer than those who kept the cash, according to research from the University of Maryland in College Park. It's a weird connection, but doing any act of kindness can strengthen your food resolution, too.
Stay strong. Whether it's true or not, most people view charitable types as having more willpower than the rest of us, says study author Kurt Gray, Ph.D. When you're the one doing good works, you transfer that perception to yourself and try to live up to the image. Even small deeds, like giving up your bus seat to an older person or donating blood, can help you say no-no to the Ho Hos.
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Karen Asp, SELF magazine