Believe it or not, you don’t need superhuman willpower to lose weight. Here’s what you need instead!
Follow my blog and join me on a health and fitness journey!
How many times have you tried to lose weight and failed? Yes, me too. It’s happened to me more times than I can remember.
You think about how much you’d like to lose a few pounds, so you start a new eating plan on Monday. Later on, you find yourself thinking about having a cookie, or a cupcake, or some chips. You try to use willpower to resist, but eventually you end up having a bunch of cookies or chips and your healthy eating goes out the window.
The problem is you’re relying on your willpower for weight loss, and that’s never going to work.
You haven’t been able to lose weight because you have no willpower. It’s because you’re lacking decision, motivation and commitment, and you’re living in an unhealthy environment.
All you need to do is change your approach to weight loss and suddenly it won’t be so hard. Here’s how!
Why willpower won’t change you.
“Willpower is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.”
This phrase is quoted like a mantra, but the truth is willpower alone won’t help you lose weight.
While it’s true that flexing your willpower can make it stronger, the problem is you’ll get tired of flexing it after a while. Just like you need a rest day from working out, you also need to rest from using your willpower all the time to keep yourself from bingeing on cupcakes.
And guess what will happen then? That’s right. You’ll binge on cupcakes and perhaps even forget about your new, healthy lifestyle.
Relying only on your willpower alone to lose weight is impossible, and it’ll always lead to failure.
So what can you do instead?
1. Find a powerful motivation and make a decision.
When you say you want to lose weight, are you really serious or is it just wishful thinking?
If it’s just wishful thinking, then you’re not willing to make the changes you know are necessary.
Perhaps you’re afraid of change or perhaps you don’t like to change. Perhaps you don’t like exercise. Perhaps the thought of having smoothies and salads makes you cringe. Or perhaps you don’t want to give up doughnuts and chips.
Or maybe the problem is you’re afraid to fail. You’re afraid the new diet won’t work for you. You’re afraid of being sore after exercising. You’re afraid you won’t see results and you’ll feel even more discouraged.
Whatever the case, if you let your fears and doubts control you, you won’t ever lose a single pound. And the best way to conquer your fears is not by using your willpower, but by having a powerful enough reason to confront them.
Why do you want to lose weight?
Do you want to feel better? Or look better? Would you like to fit into a dress for a special day? Do you want to look thinner for your high school reunion? Did you just have a check up and your health scared you?
Personally, I committed to my health and fitness journey after I saw a loved one die of diabetes and heart disease. I have a family history of such diseases, so I decided I wasn’t going down that road. I decided to stay healthy for as long as possible.
Once I made a decision, I was no longer afraid of confronting my fears and doubts. Getting sick was scarier, and the motivation to stay healthy was a lot stronger than my willpower on its own.
So you have to make a decision about weight loss.
Think about what scares you more, making healthy changes or staying overweight/obese. Once you find a powerful motivation and make a decision to confront your fears, you won’t need a lot of willpower to lose weight.
2. Commit to weight loss.
You’ve made a conscious decision to lose weight, and now you need to commit to that goal.
Making a commitment means you’re dedicated and obligated to losing weight, and this involves:
- Setting attainable weight loss goals. Be realistic! Don’t expect to lose 50 pounds in a month. Aim for 1 to 2 pounds a week, and be prepared for setbacks.
- Investing in weight loss. You can buy a gym membership, or a healthy meal service. But most of the time, your investment won’t cost money. It can be as simple as setting aside precious time to workout and prep meals. The more you invest, you more you gain in return.
- Having a deadline. Plan on losing a certain amount of weight over a period of time. Your deadline can be your wedding day, or Valentine’s Day, or the first day of summer. Keep this date in mind and mark your calendar.
- Getting feedback. You need to keep track of your progress. Keep a food journal, or a workout log, or have a weekly weigh-in, or take monthly measurements and pictures of yourself. When you feel like you’re not making progress, check your records and assess your strategies.
- Being accountable. Seek professional advice from a doctor, a nutritionist, a health coach, or a personal trainer, and meet with them regularly. Look for a real-life or online support group and share your goals and setbacks with them. You can’t do this on your own.
When I decided to lose weight after my last pregnancy, I seriously committed myself to this goal. I set up a workout schedule. I threw away the junk food. I started planning and prepping my meals. I kept a journal. I took my measurements regularly. I enlisted the support of my family and I joined several online groups.
And guess what? I was able to lose 50 pounds and I haven’t gained them back.
When you commit to losing weight, you’re dedicated to this goal and taking steps to make it possible. You’re not just relying on your willpower.
3. Create a weight loss environment.
This is the most important step to take.
The reason you’re overweight is you’re surrounded by people and things that make it easy for you to gain weight. You need to change this.
You need to make changes in your life and create an enviroment which makes weight loss possible. You need to create an environment where you don’t have to flex your willpower all the time to keep yourself from bingeing on cupcakes.
- Throw out junk food so you won’t be tempted to snack on chips.
- Buy fruit and put it on sight so you’ll grab an apple when you want a snack.
- Change your daily route or pick a gym that’s on your way to or from work.
- Stop hanging out with people who aren’t supportive of your weight loss goals.
- Learn to cook new, healthy recipes.
- Download a weight loss app or get a Fitbit
- Set up a workout schedule or take a daily walk.
- Set up an alarm to remind yourself to drink water throughout the day.
- Prep veggies for salads and smoothies so you’ll have them handy all week.
- Avoid restaurants with an all-you-can-eat menu or junk food fare and pick venues with healthier choices.
As human beings, we’re all wired to adapt to our environments. If you create a healthy environment, you’ll adapt to it and get healthy and fit in the process.
On the other hand, if you’re surrounded by people and things that make you want to eat unhealthy food and avoid exercise, then no amount of willpower is ever going to help you.
Willpower doesn’t change you. Your environment does.
Willpower isn’t the key to weight loss.
“We can use decision-making to choose the habits we want to form, use willpower to get the habit started, and then we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. At that point, we’re free from the need to decide and the need to use willpower”. -Gretchen Rubin
Willpower alone isn’t the way to weight loss.
Stop using your lack of willpower as an excuse for not losing weight. You need to find a powerful motivation, make a decision, commit to it, and make the necessary changes.
You don’t need to use willpower to keep yourself from bingeing on cupcakes. You need to change your environment so there aren’t any cupcakes there to binge on.
Don’t just wish you could have the willpower to lose weight. Find a powerful motivation and take the first step. Get into the habit of being healthy and fit, and you won’t need to rely on willpower alone.
Stop wishing and start doing!
I recommend you read this piece on willpower by Benjamin Hardy. It will challenge your approach to weight loss and life!