November 27, 2013

Do you believe that weight loss success requires willpower?
The answer is “yes” but you might not need as much willpower as you thought.

Here are some ideas to consider…

Understand that willpower is an exhaustible resource.
Think of willpower as being like a muscle. If you use a muscle too much, it becomes tired and sore and eventually you simply have to stop using it. It’s an exhaustible resource.

Willpower is used for many different functions during the day.
• Motivating (coercing?) the kids to get ready for school on time – willpower.
• Dealing with a particularly obnoxious work colleague and keeping your cool – willpower.
• Getting stuck in traffic when you’re late for a meeting, but staying calm – willpower.
• Completing a boring piece of work before the deadline – willpower.
• Smiling yet again at your boss’s jokes – willpower.

Your stressful day at home or work, with loads of challenges and decisions to make, finishes when a team member or child asks you for a decision and you reply “I can’t even think about it now. Tomorrow!”

You then get home and have to face dealing with kids and dinner. Your blood sugar is dropping and you say “Screw it – we’ll just have take-away”. You actually have no willpower left as it has been “exhausted”.

Tip: Be prepared.
The key to maintaining a reserve of willpower to utilise for your weight loss is to plan in advance. Ensure the fridge is full, the weekly menu is written, and maybe even some meals are prepared and cooked. That way, you don’t need to rely on the exhaustible resource that is your willpower.

Tip: Minimise or avoid the things that deplete willpower.
Apparently President Obama gets his wife to lay out a suit, belt, shoes, shirt, and tie each day, so that he has one less decision (actually 5 mini-decisions) in the day, as he knows he has to deal with back-to-back meetings where big decisions need to be made.

Don’t add ‘low blood sugar’ to ‘exhausted willpower’.
This is like pouring fuel on the fire. One of the keys to our members’ weight loss success is that we get them eating meals and snacks every 3 hours throughout the day – and they all are carefully balanced in protein, carb and fat to keep blood sugar in a normal range. This maintains energy levels, keeps the brain clear, and avoids cravings and hunger.

That’s why we say, “Hunger is the enemy of weight loss.” Hunger quickly depletes willpower, so if you get hungry it’s likely that you won’t be able to make the decisions about food – or anything else – that you otherwise would. We can probably all think of a time when we were so hungry it really didn’t matter what we ate, just as long as we could eat something. Food becomes the highest priority, eclipsing other things that may actually be extremely important.

Willpower or Why-power?
If you’re tired, stressed, emotional or in physical pain, it’s likely that your willpower will be low. At times like these it can helpful to fall back onto your ‘why-power’. What are the primary reasons for wanting to lose weight? What do you really want to achieve? What image of your future self do you have in your mind? What do want to avoid by losing weight?

A strong ‘why’ can carry you through the most difficult of times and keep you on the ‘straight and narrow’ when when your willpower reserves are exhausted.