Jan 272016
 

“When the will is ready the feet are light.” 
–  Proverb

When I was trying to lose 100 pounds, or when I had lost the weight and was trying to keep it off, I can’t tell you how many times someone told me “I just don’t have the willpower that you do.” There was something negative about that statement to me. Not just the negative self-talk where the person was saying “I Can’t” without even trying, but also the implication that willpower is something you have to struggle for.

What is the difference between dedication and willpower?

willpower1

Recently Michael gave me a compliment about my pregnancy. He said he admired my “dedication.” He said he was impressed with how dedicated I have been at eating well for me and the baby, still working out, not slacking on my gym schedule (but also taking days here and there when I did need rest). My comment was that overall I was really happy with my pregnancy and I felt like I had done things “right” for ME. My diet didn’t change all that much, just ate a little bit more. The one thing I regretted was not cutting out the sugar. I voiced my concern about giving my kid a sweet tooth before he’s even here…but I just didn’t have the willpower to completely cut out sugar from diet.

Again, that word. Willpower. It feels so negative. “I didn’t have the willpower to cut out sugar” = I am weak and dependent and addicted to sugar. That’s what I think when I hear myself saying that. Then I feel deflated and think, why am I so weak? Why CAN’T I cut out sugar from diet entirely?? What’s wrong with me.

“Using willpower is exhausting: I had to put myself in the mindset of “I’m gonna do this.” Which is a hard mindset to get into. But now that it’s a habit, it feels natural. I don’t use any willpower on it, and I have willpower leftover for dealing with other occurrences and forming more habits. I’m less exhausted when I use less willpower and rely on habits I’ve built instead. Who doesn’t want to be less exhausted? (source)”

It really is. The concept of willpower is overwhelming and exhausting and feels unattainable. It feels very “all or nothing” to me. Sure, when I was trying to lose 100 pounds I did have an all or nothing attitude about my diet because I had to. I was trying to overcome my food addictions that had lead me to weigh over 250 pounds. I couldn’t eat trigger foods (pizza, ice cream, candy) at ALL because once I started, I couldn’t stop. BUT once some time had passed and I had focus and dedication and was seeing results…it was a lot easier to make exceptions once in awhile because I COULD control it. I knew that having some pizza would not mean I’d eat the entire thing. I had formed a new habit and I was dedicated to my new lifestyle. THAT made it easy.

Some tips:

Stop making excuses – saying “I don’t have the willpower” is a cop-out. Sorry, but it is. Okay, so maybe you don’t have the willpower to try something different in order to lose weight, but do you have the dedication to yourself to at least try? Dedication sounds so much more positive to me.

If-it-is-important-to-you-you-will-find-a-way.-If-not-you-will-find-excuses.

Make it a habit – Instead of looking at weight loss goals as a willpower thing (or lack of willpower thing) I found it easier to think of losing weight as a good habit I was forming. Exercise is part of my routine now. It’s a habit. It’s scheduled on my calendar like everything else in my life and I don’t even think about it. That makes it easy. “Oh, it’s Tuesday– a gym day.” Just like going to work Monday through Friday, or doing grocery shopping every Sunday…whatever it is, it’s part of my routine and schedule now and it’s so much easier just doing it then NOT doing it.

Check in with your goal – I liked to have a spreadsheet with my weekly weigh ins when I was losing weight. It was a visual thing for me, I could track it and see patterns and it was nice seeing those numbers go down.

Make sure that goal is realistic – setting out to lose 100 pounds in 6 months is just setting yourself up for failure. Trust me. You’ll feel overwhelmed and desperate and honestly, losing that much weight in such a short time isn’t the healthiest thing either. Making smaller goals not only gets you to the finish line in  a healthy way but it also gives you something to celebrate when you reach each landmark. Maybe once you lose 25 you get a pedicure, when you lose 50 you buy yourself some new clothes. Whatever it is that helps you stay focused on the end game will make it easier to make small sacrifices when times are tough and you REALLY really want to eat five donuts. 😉

Five Truths of Weight Loss

Psychology of Weight Loss

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
–  Henry Ford

And of course, even doing some of those things above, you’ll stall out. Plateaus happen. We get discouraged. We stop seeing results. Then it’s time to change things up. Maybe running at the same speed and incline on the treadmill week in and week out isn’t getting you the same results. So try intervals. Run outside. Try something else to shake things up.

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Break Your Bad Workout Habits

Married to My Workout

Weight Loss Plateaus

How to Stay Motivated

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I feel like taking “willpower” out of the equation alleviates some of the pressure. Instead of feeling like one slip-up means absolute failure, changing your thinking to “I am dedicated to losing this weight and tomorrow is a new day to try again” makes us more likely to be successful in reaching that goal. None of us are perfect. There will be slip-ups. But they don’t have to send us back to the starting line every single time.

So be dedicated to your goal. Dedicated to yourself. Ditch the willpower and focus on being determined instead.

What do you think? Is willpower an easy concept for you? Or does something else help keep you motivated to lose weight?

 

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Dec 072015
 

I know I’m not alone in this. When I was trying to lose 100 pounds I got a ton of bad advice. There were tons of weight loss tips in women’s magazines, too, that were often a little…sketchy. It was hard navigating through the diet world and finding something that MADE SENSE, wasn’t a FAD and wasn’t UNHEALTHY. In the end, I found a method that worked well for me: counting my calories and eating whatever I wanted in moderation.

Not everything works for everyone. If you’re new to my blog, check out this old post: Why Wednesday – Why I’m Not Losing.

Here is some of the worst advice I’ve seen in articles and gotten from people when the topic of dieting has come up:

Skip Breakfast and Don’t Eat Snacks

Or skip any meal, not just breakfast. I’ve seen it before; people say they are saving up their calories for something else later–maybe it’s a potluck or a party or a special dinner. So you skip a meal, your stomach is growling, you’re cranky, you’re hungry, and by the time you get to that meal you were saving up for you go way overboard. It’s important not to deplete yourself so much that you’re woozy and ready to just binge on anything in sight!

Eating snacks throughout the day is healthy. Just make sure they are healthy snacks and not the bag of chips or donuts in the break-room at work. I’m talking about fruit and veggies, maybe some hummus and crackers or a string cheese or cottage cheese. Something filling (protein is good) that will tide you over. I love snacks. It keeps me from getting blood sugar issues (feeling dizzy or lightheaded). It keeps me from getting cranky (Michael often has snacks stashed away just in case–because he knows how I get if I wait too long to eat!). 

Skipping meals or denying yourself snacks can mess with your metabolism. Instead, try and keep things level and steady throughout the day.

Snacking is Not Bad

Foods Masquerading As “Healthy”

On The Go

Three Meals A Day

fruit

Don’t Eat Fat

This one bugs me so much! Fat is GOOD for you. Sure, not the fat in the Pumpkin Spice Latte or the giant cheeseburger. But somewhere along the years someone said fat was bad and people started eating low fat or non-fat foods…except most low-fat/non-fat foods are PACKED with sugar. Why? Because they took all the flavor out when they removed the fat. Gross.

Eat healthy fats. Avocado, good dairy (like a plain Greek yogurt instead of sugar-packed yogurts), fish is an excellent source and I love salmon! Coconut oil is great for cooking. Nuts and seeds are good fats (but the calories can add up fast, so eat them with moderation). Eggs and beans are good sources.

Always Hungry? Here’s Why

Deny Yourself All Junk Foods

This one is a little tricky. Yes, you should cut out junk food. Choosing healthy, whole foods that fuel your body is the better route to go. But completely cutting out certain foods isn’t going to work in the long run. I don’t know about you but when someone says “never eat pizza ever again” I’m gonna want nothing else BUT pizza!!

All Calories Are Not Equal

Eat Real Food

Are You a Moderator or an Abstainer?

How to Deal With Cravings

N is for Nemesis

I Had a Drinking Problem

It’s Making You Hungrier

Denying yourself ALL TREATS backfires. It will lead to binge eating. Trust me, from a reformed binge-eater, denying yourself food doesn’t work. Telling yourself that certain types of food are completely off-limits just makes you want it more. Instead, try MODERATION.

burger

Eat As Few Calories As You Can

I can’t tell you how many times I heard from people that they were trying to lose weight by being super restrictive. Even in a program like Weight Watchers…they were eating too few calories. 1200 calories a day is not enough, at all! Especially if you are also working out. You need fuel for your body and your brain.

Starving yourself doesn’t work! It can seriously screw up your metabolism and hinder weight loss. It could also cause permanent damage. My advice is to talk to a nutritionist or a doctor and establish where you should start. For me, I started at 2,000 calories a day. And then as I was losing weight and that started to slow or stall, I’d reduce that daily intake by a little bit. By the end I was eating around 1600 calories a day + some of the calories I burned in the gym. It worked for me. I never felt deprived. I never felt like I was weak or tired from lack of calories. My body felt healthy. And that’s the point. Health. 

Listen to your Hunger Cues and make better choices instead. Don’t let yourself get Insatiable!

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Don’t Eat Carbs

Carbs have been The Devil for a long time. While I admit that there are SOME carbs that should be avoided, or limited, I don’t think all carbs are bad. When I want to reign in my calories, I do tend to skip the pasta and the bread products. They just aren’t nutritionally enough for me. I’d rather eat something else that will be more filling and not “empty.” Skip the low-nutrient carbs and pick something better. That doesn’t mean all carbs should be avoided. In my diet, wild rice, couscous, quinoa, beans and sweet potatoes are a good thing! There’s also carbs in fruit and that’s healthy!

carbs

Mmmm pizza!

Yeah, so not everything is black and white!

pants

Instead of taking bad advice, read THIS POST:

Redefine Your Relationship with Food

and

An Excuse to Eat

and this one:

The “After” – 6 Year Anniversary

And then check out the series I wrote about how to lose weight:

How to Lose Weight Series: 

Week OneWeek One Check In

Week Two , Week Two Check In

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

Five Truths of Weight Loss

Five Truths of Maintenance

And take all advice with a grain of salt. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another. The gluten-free diet may have worked for your mom, but didn’t work for you. A friend might swear by going vegan or vegetarian and then you try it and find you don’t feel well. Everybody and every body is different. Find what works for you. Talk to a nutritionist or a doctor. EXPERIMENT. And when you find what works, stick with it as long as it keeps working!

What is some of the worst dieting advice you’ve ever gotten?

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