September 29, 2016

When it comes to losing weight, some people seem to do it easily while others plug away with little result. Could the difference be luck or willpower or, more importantly, staying power?

Luck is overrated. Sure, we all know people who seem to be able to eat and drink whatever they like with no apparent consequence. We also know others who say they gain weight just by thinking about chocolate. While it’s definitely quicker and easier for some than others, it’s possible for everyone to lose weight so let’s take luck out of consideration.

Willpower is also overrated. When starting a new diet, willpower is strong. It’s easy to resist foods and drinks that are not part of the chosen plan and results usually happen quickly. Good results help to maintain motivation and willpower stays strong.

Life can get in the way, though, and we all have ups and downs. Almost everyone who has ever lost weight will say that they had times where their weight went up: sometimes they had no understanding of why, and other times the cause was crystal clear.

What happens to willpower when the person is tired or stressed or super-busy? When other factors in life become a higher priority than losing weight, willpower drops. When weight loss is slow, willpower drops.

If luck and willpower let them down, what is it that allows some to have the success that others only dream of having?

Staying power. Grit. Tenacity. Perseverance. A genuine stubbornness to beat their weight problem and have the success they deserve. They have faith that plugging away for a short time with minimal results will eventually lead to a major accomplishment.

Does this comment sound familiar: “I know what to do to lose weight, I just don’t do it.”?

Effective weight loss is a long-term process and so knowing can’t take the place of consistently doing. Consistent and deliberate action – in food and drink choices, activity, sleep, and relaxation – is the key to successfully losing weight.

The big-picture goal may be specific, for example “Lose 10kg by Christmas”. It’s essential and it helps with maintaining the focus required to drive day-by-day and meal-by-meal choices.

Staying power takes over when initial high levels of motivation and results wear off. It involves the big picture, but it also requires a far smaller focus. Compare two statements:

  • Oooh, cookies. One cookie won’t matter – I’ll get back on track tomorrow.
  • Yum, cookies. I’ve had them before and I’ll have them again, but not today.

Imagine if these statements were applied with every temptation that presented every day. One attitude – of consistently caving in – prevents success while the other – of deliberately and consistently making good choices – will help achieve weight loss goals.

Staying power can be developed. Support from family, friends, workmates and coaches is important, especially as there will always be ‘enablers’ or ‘saboteurs’ who offer up temptation. Over time, staying power makes it easier and easier to make good choices as the person moves slowly but surely towards their ultimate goal.