Willpower does not work for losing weight. Willpower is all about resistance and fighting. We are trying to use it to control our impulses to eat. If we spend all of our time using this kind of energy, we will get exhausted. We won’t be able to stick to our plan. When the world gets hard and we get stressed, or tempted to eat, we are going to give up.
We are meant to lose weight from a place of love, for ourselves. From the idea that we want better for ourselves. And from this place we make a plan of what we are going to eat, and what we are going to do, to make ourselves feel better. We should try and lose weight, the way we want to live our life.
We should never start a diet we want to escape from. If we are on a diet, and we need to get away from it, to feel good, then we have a big willpower problem. Instead we should have a lifestyle we are building, that is going to make our life amazing. This is the kind of diet and weight loss, that is sustainable.
The first thing we need to do, is to recognise if we are using willpower to try and lose weight. According to weight loss coach Corinne Crabtree, these are the signs to look for;
- If we keep eating off our plan, and grabbing sweets etc, then at some point we have unconsciously planned to lose weight by forcing ourselves to “be good” (using willpower).
- When we have arguments in our head about eating something, then we know we are trying to use willpower (instead of just saying to ourselves “it is not on my plan”).
- If we find ourselves trying to control our impulses to eat, by using negativity such as calling ourselves a fat pig, or disgusting. Or by saying things such as “you are never going to be able to eat a hamburger”. This is a sign that we are trying to use willpower to lose weight.
There is a reason willpower does not work. We have two parts to our brain, the prefrontal cortex and the primitive part of our brain (simplistic description). The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning and decision making. This part of the brain takes a lot of energy to use. Then there is the primitive part of our brain. The primitive part of our brain is very efficient and it likes habits. It also turns the thoughts that we think on a regular basis, into beliefs. It is the part we rely on the most, to make it through the average day. The prefrontal cortex is used about 5% of the time. The primitive part of the brain, the rest of the time.
When we say we are going to use willpower to lose weight, we are saying we will use the prefrontal cortex part of our brain, every time there is a choice to make. This is where the argument in our head starts. We are trying to resist the chocolate cake, and our prefrontal is saying no, while our primitive is trying to go with the eating habits that have helped us survive for the last 20 years. Eventually, the prefrontal runs out of energy. The primitive brain then kicks in, and we do the thing that has been a habit. We eat the chocolate cake. Then we beat the daylights out of ourselves for having no willpower. That is why willpower, does not work.
The biggest problem is that we usually equate overeating, with being good to ourselves. We think, life is hard and I am just comforting myself with food. We need to change the conversation we are having with ourselves. It needs to become; I am never comforting myself, when I am over eating. By overeating I am escaping telling myself what I really need in this moment. It is me not doing enough self-love. Because the truth is that overeating really is a signal that we are not doing enough self-love, somewhere else in our life.
Written by Lynda Timperley Btch, Dip Psych, Cert Life Coaching
©2020Love Life Now Ltd
Acknowledgement: Corrinne Crabtree PNPtribe.