Why Willpower Doesn't Work & Never Has (and 4 Steps to Get Started)
Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. Why Willpower Doesn't Work & Never Has (and 4 Steps to Get Started)

    You hear it all the time — losing weight takes willpower...and lots of it.

    Willpower is defined as deliberately exerting yourself to restrain your impulses.

    You know the feeling well. It’s the agonizing back-and-forth in your head– one voice is telling you to do something while the other is telling you not to.

    For weight loss, it usually boils down to the constant internal battle of resisting the temptation to eat unhealthy food — a “good” voice reminding you that it will cause you to pack on extra pounds, hurt your health, destroy your progress, etc. etc. … and a “bad” voice telling you it’s only this once, it’s not a big deal, it tastes good, etc. etc.

    The problem is, no matter how many times the “good” voice triumphs, that “bad” voice will always rear its ugly head again, creeping back in, tempting you, and stomping any chance of consistent health and happiness.

    It’s really no way to live your life.

    But the good news? Recent research shows that you can take control once and for all

    In a study about food regulation in rodents, Boston University researchers found that the more they deprived rodents of food, the more pleasure the rodents took in eating and the more likely they were to overeat.

    That same thing happens in humans. Using willpower alone to lose weight not only makes us miserable, it also causes us to go overboard when we eventually and inevitably do give in.

    The key to accomplishing lasting weight loss is to change habits in small ways you can live with.

    In other words, acknowledge that your body has food urges and that there are times you won’t feel like exercising, and then start to pinpoint small moments in your daily habits that you can tweak.

    Here are 4 steps to take to get started towards identifying the small changes you can make to lose the weight for good.

    Step 1

    Pick a start date, preferably a Monday so that it’s on a day when your schedule is fairly consistent. For the next 2-3 days, live your life normally without making any changes. At the end of the day, or during the day when you have a free moment, write down everything you did.

    Step 2

    Next, use the information you learned from studying your own routine to set and write down S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals stand for setting goals that are “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant,” and “time-bound.” For example, a S.M.A.R.T. goal might be “I will burn 200 extra calories a day by going on a 35-minute walk 3 days a week.” Another example might be “I will trade in my afternoon snack of chips for an apple.” Write down small goals for improvement you want to make by looking at your daily routine.

    Step 3

    Stick with it! The common theory is that it takes 21 days of doing something to make it into a habit. With each passing day, each small change you make will become easier and easier. Eventually, it will be an unconscious thing for you.

    Step 4

    After 30 days, reassess by repeating Step 1. Start on a Monday, carry out the next few days in the same manner you normally would...again, writing everything down. Then compare that routine to the first one. If you notice some significant changes, you’re doing great! If not, that’s okay! Either way, repeat the process and find new small, daily habits to change.

    Now, doesn’t that sound A LOT more doable than being miserable trying to exercise willpower all the time?

    The process is slow and intentional, meaning it will create that lifestyle change — and that weight loss — you’ve been after.

    What is one small change you could make to create a new, healthier habit?




    Author: Caitlin H
    Diet-to-Go Community Manager

    Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.


    Psychology & Weight Loss
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