Why willpower sucks when it comes to losing weight.
Image if you had a nickel for every time you heard; you just don't have enough willpower.
When it comes to losing weight it seems to be clear that you will require a lot of this magical substance called willpower, and if you don't have it; Well I'm sorry to say, but you're going to fail.
People talk as if the secret to successful weight loss comes down to your ability to resist temptation at every turn while you navigate this all you can eat buffet we call life.
Well, I'm here to say good luck with that.
Here's the thing, we don't give our mind enough credit in regards to how sophisticated and smart it is. We often don't think twice about this incredible computing device we have inside our skull, and we definitely don't think of it as capable of controlling us.
We think that when we choose to eat an entire box of Oreo cookies; that, that somehow it was a personal choice - but was it?
Did you make the choice to eat it or was something deep inside your mind guiding you to make that choice?
I'm gonna let you in on a little know fact and frankly a huge game changer when it comes to weight loss.
You are not in charge.
Let me make that real clear. When it comes to what you put in your mouth, you are not in charge.
Your brain is more powerful than any choice you may have when it comes to getting its way. It has figured out what foods it feels are best for your survival, and it will do whatever it has to, to get these foods.
Your brain is designed for one major thing, your survival. It is so profoundly programmed for this, that it will make you act and do whatever it feels will give you the best advantage in this area.
Let's take a closer look at how your brain rationalizes this.
When it comes to eating, the higher the calories, the better (from a survival perspective, not from a health perspective in our current environment.)
Throughout history, the animals that got enough food/calories and the animals that were able to store the most fat, were the ones that survived.
Lots of calories = lots of stored fat = lots of survival.
The problem we now have is that its super easy to get lots of calories, I mean like incredibly easy. It's like your brain is a kid in a candy store when it comes to getting calories for your survival. There is hardly any effort, and your choices are endless.
The thing is, do you think it knows it's too much food?
Nope, not at all.
From its perspective, you are crushing it at the survival game, and you are being super successful and finding enough to eat.
Your brain has kept track of everything you have ever put in your mouth and has weighed out the pros and cons of every bite you have ever taken.
There is no coincidence as to why you would rather have a hot fudge sundae vs. a plate of carrot sticks.
Your brain has calculated that the carrots will require too much effort and will not provide enough calories for the amount of energy it would need to eat them. On the other hand, the sundae requires minimal effort and packs a massive punch in the calorie department.
This is why you crave certain things over others. Every choice you make is based on your brain, deciding what's the most bang for your buck.
And this is now where willpower comes into play.
If you think that in a moment of hunger that you can consciously choose to eat the carrots over the sundae, you will know from experience how seemingly impossible this actually is; you are essentially trying to override a brain process that is millions of years old and has control over your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
However, there is a solution.
The first step is awareness.
It's having the awareness that you are not making the choices to eat these high-calorie foods but that you are being guided to eat these foods based on what your brain perceives to be the best option.
The second step is to provide different options.
This is where abstinence comes into play. When you remove these high sugar, high fat, highly processed foods from your environment and only make whole foods available, your brain will learn to adapt and be forced to make new choices.
Of course, this does not happen overnight, and It will take a few weeks for your brain to readapt. During this phase, you will need a certain amount of, for lack of a better word "willpower," but you will be better able to exert control over your food choices now that you know why you are making these choices in the first place.
Also, knowing that in a few weeks, you will have reset your brain and that it will be less likely to seek out those once highly processed, highly calorically dense foods, is encouraging.
There is definitely more to this topic and other factors involved, but having the understanding that a much deeper part of your being is in control of your food choices is key to being able to regain control over your choices.
The road to recovery is a journey and never easy, but by changing the foods we eat, our daily habits and with proper support and coaching, success is achieved. To get started and to be a part of a heart-centered support group for women wanting to lose weight and overcome food addictions.
Join my new Food Over Mood Facebook group.
My give you all the tools and knowledge you need to free yourself from the traps that are holding you back from becoming the best version of yourself, you can be.
And remember... Little steps in a new direction lead to bigger and better destinations.
I love hearing from you guys. Let me know below in the comments your struggles with willpower.
Love and Wellness