Why You Don’t Need Willpower For Weight Loss

Believe it or not, you don’t need superhuman willpower to lose weight. Here’s what you need instead!

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How To Lose Weight Without Willpower | Wonder Fabi

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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.

Sound familiar?

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.

How To Lose Weight Without Willpower | Wonder Fabi

“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.

How To Lose Weight Without Willpower | Wonder Fabi

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.

How To Lose Weight Without Willpower | Wonder Fabi

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.

How To Lose Weight Without Willpower | Wonder Fabi

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.

weight loss without willpower 10

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.

For example:

  • 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.

How To Lose Weight Without Willpower | Wonder Fabi

“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!

What do you think you need to be able to lose weight? Share in the comments!

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17 thoughts on “Why You Don’t Need Willpower For Weight Loss

  1. This is such great advice, you have nailed it on the head with your suggestions. Congrats on losing weight and keeping it off, which is always the big test! Thanks for sharing at Blogger’s Pit Stop, this has been shared 🙂 Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent points! I think your discussion of the environment we create for ourselves is right on. When we change what is available or easy to grab, even the people or situations where bad habits get the best of us, good things happen! Great post and good for you for a long standing commitment to health!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good post Fabi, I agree that motivation, commitment and environment are all keys to successful weight loss. But, I still think willpower is very important. I’ve tried to lose weight for decades. its all I can do to maintain. I exercise every day. For a couple of years, I was spending an hour working out in the gym 3 days/week, and walking a half hour every day. I could tell my muscles were getting bigger but I never lost a pound.
    I get very, very discouraged when I stick religiously to a diet and exercise plan for 2-3 months and see only 1-2 lbs wt loss (if that). I just don’t see how someone can force themselves to eat foods they can’t stand for the rest of their lives in order to lose weight. If you don’t enjoy eating healthy foods, all the rest of it goes out the window. Can motivation and commitment overcome that issue?
    I’m sure it can with smoking. You don’t HAVE to smoke. But you DO have to eat, every day, for your entire life. How can motivation overcome the temptation to eat something you hate (but it’s good for you), over something you love (but it’s bad for you) for years?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand what you say. I used to hate exercise. Really, really hate it. I had tried to lose weight before but without exercise (as without healthy eating), weight loss goes out the window. That was until someone I loved died of obesity-related illnesses (diabetes and heart disease) before the age of 60. I decided death and illness scared me more than I hated exercise. Once you make a decision, there’s no going back. It’s not motivation per se. It’s more like having a powerful reason to change. If you can’t make a decision to change, then your reason is not powerful enough. You do need a bit of willpower to start, of course, but you won’t need it forever. The trick is to make conditions so that you have no choice but to move forward. What can you do so that you have no choice but to eat healthy foods? Sure you’ll hate it at first, but eventually you’ll get used to it. I hated doing my workouts at first, every step was torture, but I gave myself no choice. Years later, I just can’t stop working out, it’s a habit. You have to stop thinking about forcing yourself and start thinking about how to build a habit. Build healthy habits one by one. I won’t happen overnight. It will take you years. It will be a long, difficult journey, but you have to decide if you’re willing to start. I gave myself no choice because I either started working out and eating healthy food or I was going to get sick and die. You need to fill in the blank yourself- I have no choice but to eat healthy food or I will _________.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Fabi, thanks for taking the time to reply. I agree with what you’re saying. I’m not sure I’m ready to go there. I don’t know what I could do to make it so I had no choice but to eat healthy. Maybe lock myself up on some deserted island where there was nothing at all to eat but fish and seaweed? (both of which I hate).
        Yes, one day I’ll get sick and die. The issue is wether I want to fully enjoy my life. All the good food, drinks, etc- or deprive myself of so many of the things I really love. I have tried to eat healthy. The longest I’ve managed to stay on a diet is 4 months. I exercised at least 2-3 hours/day and did not ‘cheat’. I managed to lose only 1 lb/month. I was so depressed, angry and frustrated. Of course, I gave it up and didn’t want to think about it for at least another 6 months!
        It would be much easier to stick to it, maybe even to the point of making it a habit as you say, IF there were some results. Without actually seeing some reward for all of that effort, I simply can’t maintain that willpower. Yes, I will probably die younger than if I could lose the weight, but I wonder is it really worth it?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It seems like you’re not lacking willpower but a powerful motivation. Why do you even want to lose weight? If your reason for getting healthy is powerful enough, then your mindset of using willpower to force yourself to move forward isn’t working. It’s not about locking yourself in a deserted island, it’s about investing in something that’s so difficult for you that you’ll have no choice to move forward or lose everything. But only you have the answer to that. Do you really want to change? Why do you want to change? What would you need to invest that’s so dear to you, you would have no choice but to change? Is it worth it? I don’t know. Only you have the answer to those questions.
        I don’t know what kind of food you like, but I used to love fast food. I used to go out to a burger joint every single weekend, and I was so overweight. I also love sweet stuff and chips, the works. But the truth is food high in fat and/or sugar is as addictive as cocaine. I thought I liked it, but I was just addicted to it, and my taste buds were so screwed up I couldn’t even taste the sweetness in an apple. After years of not going to a burger joint, I don’t even crave it anymore. I cook my own burgers and pizza and bake fries. I don’t miss the other stuff at all.
        BTW, 4 months on a healthy routine is not long enough. I’ve been on a health and fitness journey for 6 years and it’s still not long enough. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see results for months. What matters is the person you become in all those months and years. That’s the reward. The value is in the journey, not the finish line. Keep that in mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree it’s got a lot to do with the motivation. I don’t think I will ever get motivated enough to give up so much of what I enjoy. IF I could see some results after a month of suffering, then it would encourage me to stick with it longer. Since I never do, it gets depressing and I get sick of torturing myself and I give up and quit.
        Like you, I love fast food, tho I really don’t indulge in it very often any more. I also love sweets, chips and all the things we’re not supposed to eat. I agree with you completely that stuff IS addicting! I’ve seen studies where they show that sugar is more addicting than anything else. Yes, even cocaine, even heroin. But sugar is in everything and I AM addicted.
        My motivation? It used to be getting people to stop treating me like shit simply because I was fat. Now, I have got to the point where I really don’t care much anymore what other people think of me.
        I tried really hard to lose weight in order to join the Navy. I was 17 and struggled for almost a year. I even went and got my teeth wired shut! THAT was a big mistake! It HURT so bad all I could do was drink to kill the pain! Drinking a lot of booze does NOT help with weight loss! After almost 8 months I finally broke down and took the wires off. All I got out of that experience was rotten teeth and a loss of only about 20 lbs!
        At this point, the only reason I can think of to lose the weight is to help get rid of my diabetes. I’m told that if I lose the weight, it will go away.
        But no, I’m not motivated enough, even with the diabetes hanging over my head, to give up eating all the things I enjoy and suffering through every day trying to eat all the things I hate. It’s really just not worth it to me. To say that it will add years to my life is OK but why would I want to live those extra years?
        I’m not sure what the value is in the suffering? To me, this kind of thing is not at all about ‘the journey’, it is ONLY about the results. The journey is fine if we’re talking about taking off on a world tour, but a diet? No, not worth it if you’re not going to get some noticeable results for all your efforts. The person I become during those times of dieting is cranky and miserable. I don’t like to be that way. Yes, I occasionally still get depressed over my weight, but not so much anymore since I’m getting older and not trying to fit in with the crowd anymore. Can I say I’m ‘happy’ with the way I am now? No, but not so sick of it any more either.
        I’ve enjoyed the conversation.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What an awesome read! Congrats on your 55 pounds down.

    So many people want a simple solution nowadays! Unfortunately, there’s no magic superfruit or supplement that allows us to lose weight without trying. It takes hard work, and you very brilliantly express that idea!

    Liked by 1 person

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