Use Skillpower Instead of Willpower To Reach Your Goals

My husband bought a bag of M&Ms the size of his head. Great, now those suckers are going to call me every time I open the fridge. I usually don’t crave candy, and I certainly don’t buy it, but when it’s there—staring at me, I find it harder to resist.

I was out in the ShredShed doing my strength workout, and when I walked back in the house, hubs was standing in the kitchen with his hand buried in the bag. Although my first thought was, “I just worked out, a small handful won’t hurt,” I immediately said, “No, thanks” and jumped in the shower.

I was tempted, but resisted every time I opened the fridge for the rest of the day— and I open the fridge a lot.

At the end of the night, I was unwinding on the couch, and hubby had that bag out again, “alright, just a few.” I caved. I know I didn’t need a handful of M&Ms at the end of the night, they weren’t helping me achieve my goals, and honestly, they weren’t even that good. Now, a few M&Ms won’t make or break me, and I’ve moved on, but it’s worth examining what happened.

So, what happened? Did my willpower run out? After a full day of resisting, I gave in to the temptation.

It’s why I don’t like to rely on willpower to reach my goals. Maybe you have iron-clad discipline, but for me willpower can be unreliable. I prefer to tap into SKILLpower, a concept I heard about recently from Al Switzler in his Ted Talk regarding behavior change. I recommend you check it out.

Change anything! Use skillpower over willpower | Al Switzler | TEDxFremont

I wasn’t using the healthy eating skills I had developed over the years. Instead, I let social influences (my husband’s behavior) dictate my decisions. It’s worth mentioning that my husband usually makes healthy choices, and is a positive influence in my life— but he has a sweet tooth and occasionally indulges, which can be a regular part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

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If you put in the work to develop healthy lifestyle skills and habits, then it’s easier to make decisions that benefit your health, because they are routine—on autopilot.

Think about some of the activities you do on autopilot; maybe a cup of coffee before your morning shower, a post-lunch soft drink, or an evening snack with your favorite show. How can you make healthy habits, such as eating 6-8 servings of fruit and vegetables, moderate exercise three times a week, taking a daily walk, or developing a sleep routine part of your life?

With a little work on the front end, preparing and eating healthy meals, exercising, and controlling stress can become so constant in your life, you won’t have to fight against your brain to get them done, they become just a part of your daily life.

The skills you need to reach your goals depend of course, on your goals, but whether you want to gain muscle, lose weight, or improve your performance, there are skills you can work on to help make the small daily decisions work in your favor.


Awareness is a skill. Do you recognize that you open the fridge when you’re stressed or bored? Do you mindlessly eat? Is your calorie intake in line with your daily activity and goals? Are your current habits bringing you closer to your goals or further away? Examining these questions can help you determine where you need to make changes in your daily life.

4 Tips For Mindful Eating

If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing. Record your calories for a week, track your steps, monitor your sleep, or your time spent on social media. Once you know where you are starting, you can begin to make incremental improvements.

Don’t attempt to change everything at once. Choose the behavior that you are most confident you can change or the one that may elicit the best response.


I call it the “Don’t Buy It” diet. That means I don’t bring foods into my house that don’t support my goals. I try to keep my cabinets clear of temptations, or at least minimize them. I keep healthy snacks and bring my lunch to work so I won’t be as tempted by the vending machine or fast-food lunches. I travel with almonds and protein powder.

I try to make unwanted behaviors inconvenient and healthy habits convenient. That means fruit and nuts in the house and ice cream and chips far away on the shelves at the store, so that if I have a craving at 9 pm, I’m more likely to eat what’s around because it’s easier.

Pantry Cleanout Challenge


Let your friends and family know about your goals and ask for their support. Make sure your friends know that if you turn down drinks one Saturday night, that’s it’s nothing personal, it’s your marathon training schedule. Ask your family to keep those sugary snacks out of sight, or your co-workers to lay off the jokes about your kale salad. They may not listen, but people don’t know what you need unless you tell them.

The bottom line is you can’t control what other people do or say, but you can initiate those conversations and ask for their help and support. If you friends and family aren’t supportive of your goals, then work to include new positive influences in your social circle; join a running club, a workout class, a healthy cooking class, or an online health community; There are people out there that have similar goals as you, you just have to find them.


Planning is the key to success. Learning how to shop for the foods that support your goals and how to prepare them are skills that are worth the time to develop. Don’t wait for the last minute to decide lunch, or hope everything will run smoothly in your day so you’ll have enough time to prepare dinner after work, because we all know how that usually turns out.

How to Grocery Shop Like a Nutrition Coach

Meal Prep to Eat Healthier With Less Effort


It’s simple, but not easy. Most people know what they should do, but have trouble executing the actions. A coach can help guide you in the right direction, avoid common pitfalls, and hold you accountable. A coach can often fast track results by guiding you through the proven strategies and methods that get results.

Are you relying on willpower or developing SKILLpower? I’d love to know!

Have questions? Need help? That’s why I am here.

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Use skillpower instead of willpower to reach your goals. Save to your favorite Pinterest board to share.

Questions? I’d love to help.

Coach Lea

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