Monday, April 29, 2013

Willpower: Your Limited Mana Pool and You


All health choices ultimately come down to that one thing.

How badly do you want it and what are you willing to give up?

Every task, from work, to working out, to dealing with unpleasant social situations draws on the same resource; Willpower (or self control if you prefer). Lately, I've been struggling to manage my "limited mana pool," so to speak. 

For 11 months. I've turned down cupcakes and candy while watching others graze on them at will. I've woken up at 6 in the morning to make time for runs before work despite exhaustion. I've traded gaming time for gym time and the freedom of eating "wherever my friends want" for making sure that there will be something I can eat wherever we go.

Add in a very physical job that requires me to manage groups of 30 people from around the world for an hour at least three or four times a day. It requires me to walk at least 5 miles during the work day alone, and provide the best in customer service to over 1000+ guests a day.

Add in the emotional anniversary of the death of a friend.

Add in my stress over trying to figure out how to pursue my acting career in this new body.

Add in my boyfriend (one of my major rocks), moving back to Michigan for the summer.

The reason I'm listing all these stress factors is because it takes the same type of energy to behave like a mature, mentally and physically healthy adult in the face of all those hurdles despite how different they are.

Sometimes it really seems like the perfect storm, and despite the fact that I have been able to stay on track with my health goals, I've become slightly pugnacious, rude and confrontational in the face of my increased stress load. My fuse is the shortest it's ever been and I really don't like the person I'm becoming.

Seriously, I'm not far off from this:

Many whelps, guys. Many whelps.

Just think about your own life.

How many times have you had a really crappy or exhausting day and made a bad decision using your experience as an excuse?

I ran around the city all day getting ready for my big trip so I'll skip out on the gym because I'm exhausted.

My boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with me so I'll drown my sorrows in a pint of ice cream. 

I just had a really shitty day, so it's ok that I was short with my dad on the phone.

We've all been there. We're only human. Usually when we cave and make a bad decision or lash out aggressively it's because we aren't managing our mana pool efficiently. Then when we don't execute our plans perfectly, it feels like there's no point and more mistakes follow.

But what do we say to the god of death? 

Not today.

Even when the walls are caving in, you have to learn how to cope without relying on your old toxic habits or taking it out on the people around you. If you want to keep fighting for your health, you can't just throw up your hands and accept defeat. You need to change your tactics and evolve.

First, you have to accept that you cannot be perfect at everything all the time. You need to prioritize what you're going to excel at, what you're going to do well at, and what you're going to let go for the day.

It's sort of like prioritizing a kill order for mobs in a video game. Save the bigger spells for the the bigger bosses and get by with the smaller ones to take out the less threatening ones.

If you know you'll have an exhausting day at work, then choose a lighter workout, but plan to eat on your plan perfectly. If you know you'll be going out to a truly fabulous dinner with friends, give yourself a little more leeway if your diet execution has been stellar for the last few weeks, but go hard when it comes to the gym that morning so that you earn it. I usually try to get new personal records in my runs on these days or put in some extra time on attempting new yoga positions so that I can feel like I really accomplished something great.

NOTE: Don't go overboard on the whole "going out to eat with friends" social excuse. Generally, I've been giving myself one day a week where I don't have to meet my deficit on fitbit if there's a significant social occasion, like a birthday. Try to plan things so that treats are just that; TREATS. You don't need cake all the time, but you shouldn't deny yourself the odd indulgence if you plan for it ahead of time and make it an active choice. 

It's also important to start recognizing what recharges you and it's critical to find things that don't involve eating as form of stress relief. After all, before you face a new boss on raid night, it's important to stock up on your mana potions!

What stress factors can you eliminate quickly and which are out of your control? If you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and think of little things you can do. Would cleaning your desk make you feel less stressed? Can you take out the trash or go out and get your groceries? Can you clean out your email inbox?

Is there some activity that you really enjoy that seems to erase the stress of the day? Treat yourself to a pedicure. Carve out some time to watch a movie you've been dying to see. Cuddle with your significant other on the couch and talk about your day together. Schedule an hour to PVP. Maybe you don't have a whole day to lounge around and devour reruns of Doctor Who on Netflix, but you can find some time for yourself if you do some creative thinking.

Can you make time at least once a week to hang with friends and relieve some stress? Sometimes this road to health can be lonely and it can definitely make you feel isolated. Make sure you are putting in time with your friends because it will help you keep a level head. They knew you before you started on this path and they'll be able to step in and help you if you seem to be going a little bonkers.

Is there a physical activity/ritual that seems to center you? Try out some yoga or meditation. Download some new music and go for a walk while you listen to it. The more you can discover physical activities that you truly enjoy, the better off you'll be in the long run.

It's time to accept the things you can't control and and take the helm when it comes to the things you can. Learn to recognize the difference and you'll be able to keep yourself moving in the right direction. Success is just the ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter what. You might not always be perfect, but if you can assess your failures, forgive yourself, and learn from them, then you'll always be ready for the next boss fight will a full mana pool and enough willpower to lead your raid team constructively without the threat of 50 DKP minuses. 


  1. This is exactly the kind of post I need at the moment while trying to kick my butt into gear. Trying to re-organise my life and priorities so that I can make time for the things I want to achieve, rather than making excuses as to why I don't do things.
    Thanks. You are rather inpsiring - congrats on everything. It's clear you have been putting in the hard work and earned your astounding results :)

    1. Aw Fletch! Thanks so much for the nice comment and for reading! I'm so glad the post was able to help you along the way to meeting your goals! :) I know you'll find success if you just stick with it! Remember why you want to reach your goals and you'll always keep them in sight!

  2. I really love the daily approach you mentioned -- "prioritize what you're going to excel at, what you're going to do well at, and what you're going to let go for the day."

    I always try to perfect ALL THE THINGS! at once, and the Nerd Fitness advice of picking just one - while sound - doesn't work for me, either. I don't want to ignore my diet and focus on strength or vice versa!

    The way you phrased that just really made things click for me. It's a good way to take care of yourself while still making progress. I like it. :)


    1. It is really hard when you take on everything at 100%. I can always do it for a while, but it just doesn't last forever! When I try to do that I make it WAY harder on myself then it needs to be. I'm glad I could help! Hopefully I can take my own advice from time to time! Ha!

  3. You always seem to come up with the perfect post at the perfect time for me. I saw this and realised im trying to do too much and make to many changes at once and it was wearing me down. I've started just doing baby steps now and will work my way up from there.

  4. I’ve lost 5 kilos in my first week. I followed the diet with some protein as suggested. It is really like magic! It works. I’m not perfectly following the listed diet plan mostly), but the weight looses even on very little exercise. Give a try on this, this diet plan clearly works.