Gyms and Fitness Clubs

Self-Control: A Limiting Factor to Your Success?


Self-control refers to the power you have over your thoughts, emotions and behaviors. You use self-control when you initiate or inhibit behavior. This can be behavior such as starting an exercise program. Self-control can determine your likelihood of success. Here's why.

Some psychologists believe that self-control is a limited resource. What they are saying is that every person has only a certain amount of self-control to use each day. Once it's used up, you might as well go to bed or you can forget resisting that chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in the freezer.

Here is an example. Studies have shown that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to succeed. They succeed, in part, because they haven't had to use up any self-control. This fresh supply of self-control gives them the energy to resist the temptation to skip the workout. The same has been shown for dieters. Bingeing will often occur in the evening hours because much of the dieter's self-control has been used up during the course of the day.

How many times after a long day at work filled with decisions and deadlines do you just want to plop down on the couch and do whatever comes easy?

Your level of self-control can be depleted throughout the course of a day by the decisions you make. Stress can also do its part of robbing you of your self-control. If you are one of the lucky people out there who have a stress-free life, good for you. As for the rest of us, figure on stress stealing some of your self-control.

Barbara Brehm, Ed.D., professor of exercise and sports studies at Smith College, Northampton, Mass., says, "Coping with stress can leave you emotionally exhausted, and without the energy to get to your workout...stress is the most common reason people slip up in their attempts to overcome addictions or change other habits." These feelings can drain your energy, making it difficult to create a new habit like exercise.

You need to realize that self-control can be a limiting factor to your success with exercise. Reducing the need to use self-control can be of great value. Here is how you can do it.

  1. Exercise early in the morning.
  2. Know that exercise goes a long way in reducing your stress level.
  3. Exercise with a friend-less self-control is needed when you have the encouragement and support of others.
  4. Realize that exercise is hard work-don't kid yourself by saying it's easy. This only puts a drain on your supply of self-control.