Weight loss : A question of willpower?
How often have I heard my clients tell me that they can’t lose weight because they lack willpower or because they’re too lazy? Even though studies have shown that diets don’t work, many people believe that the major reason for their failure in losing weight, is their lack of willpower.
Yet, willpower is not a super human power. It’s more like a mental ressource that gets depleated with use. When it’s totally drained, we give in to temptation, we skip a workout, and we feel guilty. Plus, the more we use this ressource, the more we feel drained and exhausted.
So, how do we change our lifestyle if it isn’t with willpower?
Enjoy what you do
Whether it’s eating healthy or staying active, make it fun, not a chore. A goal is easier to reach when it’s an aspiration, not an obligation. So, by finding an enjoyable way to stay active and a healthy twist to your favourite recipes, you increase your chances of repeating that pleasant experience. Pleasure is key when it comes to living the healthy lifestyle.
Even the smallest decision will tap that willpower reservoir. So, avoid the daily decision-making process and plan your meals, your snacks and your workouts ahead of time. Promoting a healthier lifestyle should be kept simple. The more we plan ahead, the less we tap the reservoir.
Form a habit
Because practising the same daily routine facilitates the habit formation process, those who practise the same activity, like running or meditating, at the same time every day will find it easier to form a habit, it is not because they have more willpower. When the habit is formed, you don’t question it, thus saving the energy required to make the decision. For example, set aside specific time slots for your work outs on your calendar and try not to skip any. You will avoid having to decide to work out in the morning, at lunch time, after work or after dinner, and risk not going at all.
Keep temptation out of reach
Humans are wired to prefer sweet, salty and fatty foods. The human species evolved in a radically different and harsh environment thousands of years ago. Foods that contained these characteristics were hard to come by in nature. When they came across them, they hoarded them. In today’s world, even though these foods are readily available, this hoarding behaviour is still prevalent. So, if we know that we are tempted simply by their sight and smell, we can understand that instead of trying to resist them, it is preferable to avoid being exposed to them altogether. You can’t eat what isn’t there. Out of sight, out of mind.