The word willpower is used a lot in conjunction with weight loss. Does willpower have a positive effect on weight loss or is it actually hurting us?
WHAT IS WILLPOWER?
Let's start off by talking about what willpower even is… According to the Merrium-Webster Dictionary the word willpower is defined as energetic determination. I was actually surprised by this definition, but I guess it kind of fits.
So..am I energetically determined to lose weight?? I guess you will have to ask me every single day…because it changes!! 😆
IS WILLPOWER THE SECRET TO WEIGHT LOSS?
I have said the words…I have no willpower….more times than I can count. It is true too. When there are foods I love nearby I have no energetic determination to not eat those foods.
I will go through phases where my willpower is great, but it never lasts long term.
Many so-called health experts chalk up weight loss success to willpower. Not only is this a false belief, but also a way to sabotage yourself and cause negative self-talk.
Most people are not able to maintain their willpower for an extended period of time, simply because of the way the brain works.
Willpower being the secret to weight loss is a false belief in my opinion.
WILLPOWER DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK WITH GOALS
Ever wondered why willpower doesn’t help you achieve your goals? It is because willpower is impossible to maintain at the same intensity for a period of time. Take for example a goal of losing 10 pounds in a month.
This is great, but how will willpower help you get there? Maybe it will remind you to look at the days going by, and realizing that you’re no way closer to achieving your goals.
Willpower doesn't help us build healthier habits.
Willpower won’t change your life in the end. Instead, write down what you want and develop consistency, as in building healthier habits and work on making them stick. Do a bit every day and build on it. That approach trumps willpower any day of the year.
WILLPOWER IS FRAGILE
I have always gotten mad at myself because one day I am so gung ho about my goals and the next day I may not care at all.
Sure, you may tell yourself today that you will run a mile every day, but then when you go outside today, you are in no way motivated to do so tomorrow. The reasons can be plentiful; rain, snow, maybe you just don’t want to?
The fact is that self motivation is fragile, and won’t beat your environment. Willpower will try to elevate you above the environmental deterrent, but the environment may end up winning regardless of how hard you try.
WILLPOWER DOESN'T GIVE YOU ACCOUNTABILITY
Willpower is your own internal resolve. This is fine, but how will you be kept accountable? When you are the judge of yourself, the verdict will always be biased. Get a workout or health buddy, somebody who will hold you to your word.
Plus, if resolve is what you are after, nothing can give you more willpower than good old competition. The competitive nature of mankind is to be better than his fellow-man. This can work out in your favor, as rivalry sets up a win-win scenario for everyone. You may even want to compete against yourself and try to win money in the process.
DIVERSIONS MIGHT WORK BETTER
If you resolve is to stop drinking soda it will take a lot of self power. The problem is that you will be thinking of soda all day, as you struggle to remind yourself to avoid it. Our human nature rears up and keeps showing us what we cannot have and we become obsessed.
A better approach is to give yourself a diversion. Find something to replace what you will be eliminating. Trying to forget soda? Find a healthier beverage that you have no problem using in place.
The diversion allows you to have an out and you don't have to fight with yourself!
THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER TO LONG TERM WEIGHT LOSS
I truly believe that we have been fed a lie when it comes to energetic determination and weight loss. My belief is that this has led us to have a lot of negative self-beliefs.
Willpower sounds great in theory, but just isn't sustainable for lifelong changes.
What are your thoughts about willpower and weight loss? Has willpower had a big impact on your weight loss?
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Madden Online Mall says
Hi Jamie. I totally agree with your thoughts about willpower. I am trying once again to lose weight on Weight Watchers but have to do it on line which is a new learning process for me. I am all but wheelchair bound right now and the wheelchair is getting closer all the time. A walker is a must and I am only 61 years old. I have tried every diet under the sun, even thought I could go vegan and that did not work. WW has helped before so will give it another try. I have no support group which makes it really hard. One day I am motivated and the next not so much. I have deteriorating disks in my spine and a failed knee replacement. I live in so much pain that it usually gets me depressed. I can’t take pain medications as I am allergic to most medications but that is okay too as I don’t want to get addicted to them either as so many do. Weight loss would help me so much but to get there seems an unobtainable goal sometimes. I like your comments and plan to follow you. Thanks for listening.
Donna Zappala says
Jamie, I couldn’t agree with you more. Of course, we have to have a mind set that we want to lose weight, but will power is not going to sustain you through all the difficult times where the sugar or carb addiction/withdrawals rears its ugly head. I’ve lost 30 pounds on WW previously and thought I had myself properly ‘trained’ to live without the tracker/logging, etc. HOW WRONG I was. After a lifetime of loving food and creating memorable full fat/full sugar meals, I found my love for food/addiction was too strong. So here we go again, this time it’s going to have to be for life. A lifestyle change…with recipes like those on your blog and others, there seems to be a new way for me to satisfy my creative process, as well as my love for food, and still be within my points range! Thank you so much for taking the time to document all this….your words are helping many of us!