I found the Willpower Training 7-Day Challenge on Pinterest while I was searching for week-long challenges, and as I said in my previous post, I knew it would need to be the first challenge. How could I succeed at losing weight and exercising if I didn’t have the willpower to ignore the temptations of staying up late, of sweets, of eating too much, of playing Candy Crush or watching TV instead of getting up and moving?
So once that I was back to falling asleep okay without feeling like I constantly needed to cough, I figured that it was time to get started.
The seven days of the challenge each add a different habit to help you curb temptations:
Day 1 – Sleep
Day 2 – Meal Planning
Day 3 – Meditation
Day 4 – Replacing TV time
Day 5 – Learning new skills
Day 6 – Limiting handheld devices
Day 7 – Exercising / Doing a Challenging Workout
Each habit, once introduced, is continued through the rest of the week so that the challenge is progressive. Details about each step can be found at the link above if you’re interested in giving it a try, too!
5 Things Learned
- Kids, man. Kids. Let’s just say that I was glad I was going to bed earlier each night because my daughter was getting up for a couple hours in the middle of the night or waking up two hours early. Turns out she was coming down with another cold (that she so nicely passed on to me so that I’m up late coughing again), but without that extra sleep, it would’ve been an even rougher week. In the end, I learned that getting sleep in this house had less to do with my own bedtime routine and more to do with kids that could sleep peacefully through the night!
- I learned that I still hate meal planning. For someone who likes to plan and organize, you’d think it’d be my favorite thing. I just can’t figure it out and get it simplified to my liking. It’s hard to plan within budget AND what everyone will be willing to eat based on preferences and diet, and it never works the way I want it to. There are just too many days where I come home exhausted from work and just don’t want to cook…no matter what the meal plan says.
- Even with the previous statement, though, I also learned that meal planning and sticking to it can really make a difference. There were times when I wanted a snack here and there, but it wasn’t written on the meal plan….so I skipped it or had one of the designated snacks for the day. It really helped provide willpower: I can’t put it in my mouth because it’s not on the meal plan. But I would have to plan out every bite of every day, and I don’t think I have the time or energy to do that. (If you would like to give meal planning a try but don’t have ideas for dinners, a meal planning site might help. I’ve been using No More T0-Go this past month to get some new recipes and add variety, and there have really been some delicious dinners as a result. Sausage Ragu or Chimichangas anyone?)
- I learned that meditation, in my case at least, is good for sleeping. The first day that I did it, I was almost falling asleep sitting up, and I realized it’s because the method that I was using from Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Understanding the Mind that I found after a little searching was one that I actually used at night when I was lying in bed and not able to easily calm my mind and fall asleep. So I’ll be saving meditation for bedtime.
- I learned that when I’m working I actually don’t watch much TV and what little I watch I don’t want to replace with other stuff. I mean I watch one 20-minute episode of something each night before bed, and I’m okay with that.
Although each day of the willpower challenge had good ideas, I learned that when I’m working, I am entirely too busy to implement them all. I just couldn’t fit them into my day while working, cooking, and taking care of kids. So I have to admit, I gave up at the end. Once I started back to work and my cough came back, all bets were off. I managed to get to bed early–I had to considering how exhausted I was, but that’s about the only day of the challenge that I was able to keep up the whole time and will continue. It’s actually one of my goals for the year–develop the habit of going to bed 8 1/2 hours before wake time–so I think that was more of a motivator than this challenge was. In the end, I had to do a lot of searching online and finding my own ways to implement each day of the challenge. I would’ve been nice if the challenge addressed a little more of the practical side.
If you would like to give the 7-Day Willpower Training Challenge a try for yourself, you can use the checklist below (click the picture to get access and download the Word document) to help motivate you. I printed one off and had it hanging up as a reminder of everything I had to do each day. If you try it, don’t forget to comment below with your own experiences and progress!
And though I know the Bible verse that I quoted above is intended for more serious temptations, I think keeping it in mind is important. Even with every day basic things, or maybe especially with the basics, I know I can avoid temptation if I set my mind to it because God created me with the ability to overcome anything that is thrown my way. The rest of the verse says,
“But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.”
It’s a good reminder to trust Him in all things….even the small things.
It’s not an easy thing to do some nights. I know that I can lie in bed sometimes, even when I’m really tired and especially when I’m overly tired, replaying the day, creating tomorrow’s to-do list. That’s why I really enjoyed this article: “5 Ways to Meditate Every Day.”
At night, when I’m in bed and ready to sleep, as recommended in the article for one type of meditation, I count each breath in and each breath out up to 4, and I keep repeating this. It’s easy for other thoughts to creep in, though, so that’s when I take this advice from the article:
visualize that you’re tossing all of the things that are cluttering your brain into a trash can.
There’s actually a little trash can at the end of my bed, so I picture myself tossing the thoughts into it.
It used to take me a half hour or more to fall asleep some nights (or in the middle of the night when I wake up or one of my children wakes me up). Now, I fall asleep in what seems like no time at all.
So try giving some nighttime meditation a chance. I’ve been doing it for a couple weeks now, and it’s been a lifesaver on nights with sick kids and frequent wakings. You might also read the Parents’ magazine article about meditation and give some of the other ways of incorporating meditation into your day a try, too. Let me know how it goes and what you find to be your most helpful and/or restorative form of meditation.